Saturday, October 11, 2008

IFcomp 08 reviews: Buried In Shoes

This is a review of a game in the 2008 Interactive Fiction Competition. This text is so spoilers do not show up in the RSS feed. That would be less than polite. The feed is set to truncated, not full. You should only be seeing this paragraph, not the review itself. By the way, there are SPOILERS in the review. I repeat, SPOILERS. Do not read on if you do not want spoilers. You have been warned.

Buried In Shoes
by Kazuki Mishima

I've sat here for five minutes trying to figure out how to word this review. You see, I genuinely can't decide if this worked or not.

It's about the Holocaust. That raises the stakes. If this works, it has to work. Not only that, but it has to work on a par with all the other literature, film, etc. which has been written about it.

In a vacuum, there is nothing wrong with this; it's excellent. Breaking it down like this seems wrong, but technically it's extremely well implemented. The prose is competent, even good. There were a couple of genuinely upsetting moments, like getting on the slab in the museum.

I guess what I'm ambivalent about is the length. It seemed far too short. All the scenes were fleshed out well, but I never really got a sense of characterization. Granted, this is much better than some of the other works this year (Grief, Freedom) at accomplishing characterization, but I still felt like more could have been done; the characters seemed rather static. Time played into this. Wouldn't the guard have thrown you out after some time? He had no qualms about yanking you off the slab. Wouldn't the houes have been invaved? Along another path, some of the items were a bit puzzly to find, mainly the photo (which I only found through the walkthrough.) In a puzzle game it wouldn't be an issue, but the game told me I wouldn't be looking for puzzles, so in my first run-through I blew right by them.

None of these problems were major, though. I'm leaning towards "this game worked." On its scale, at least. Ask me in a few days and I may change my opinion for better or worse.

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