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Dear Brian Reviews
What does AIF stand for? Adult Interactive Fiction.
If you likely to
be offended by games with sexual content, you are advised not
to open these files.
Reviewed by 'trix (Inside
Erin Volume 4 Number 9 - September 2008)
Brian gets dumped by his girlfriend, and receives a magic pendant from his mother, which transforms him into a girl. As him, you must find a way to reverse
the spell, and resolve things in your love life.
This is one of my favourite AIF works, and I'm not sure why it doesn't get talked about as much as some other games. The idea of writing an AIF game that you either choose your sex, or switch between them as you play, is something that's been around forever (maybe not forever-I'll estimate 2 thousand years in the absence of any hard data) and has rarely been explored because it's so much effort: you're pretty much doing the work of two games and only ending up with one. Dear Brian doesn't exhaustively explore all the possibilities of dual
gender perspective (which is the new official term I just invented), but it makes very good use of it to produce a fun and very big-feeling game.
Dear Brian has more of the elements of IF than a lot of AIF: it has an interesting premise and characters, and the puzzles are mostly along the lines of figuring out how to deal with each NPC, and which sex to be when you do it. Some of the puzzles are somewhat obscure, but it's fun enough to keep you going till the end, and then you have the added fun of replaying and getting all the many things you missed AND the multiple endings.
Most sex scenes are open for the player to explore rather than being on a rail, which works very well. There aren't points for twenty different possible sex acts per scene that you want to exhaustively go through so you haven't missed anything, and you can largely do things in whatever order occurs to you. Latterly, when you get the camera, you can try and explore every possible avenue, but it's not compulsory. The camera is a fun little addition to the sex scenes, as well as being a plot device. You get to have sex with a load of different characters, each of which has a different character and tone. Since the game's premise is one of switching sex, it's a little disappointing that as a girl you only get to have sex with one guy (and no girls), which isn't really making full use of the female PC. But there's plenty of hot chicks for the male PC to score with, which is probably what the player-base wants.
It's TADS 3, which gives it an immediate leg-up on most other games; however it's fairly early TADS 3, which isn't quite as tweaked to perfection as the current version. The technical implementation is very good and very thorough with just occasional annoyances: characters don't respond when talked to or to "hello"; they only respond to being asked about specific topics, which are occasionally hard to guess; also occasionally things don't give sensible responses to "search" commands. Those aren't enough to impair enjoyment of the game. However, it is very easy, early on, to get the game into an unwinnable state and not realise it
As you play you can discover the characters' backstories (some more than others), which is one of the things some IF does really well and AIF mostly doesn't bother with. And there's loads of hidden stuff to try and find in the game, including secret endings.
What's not to like? Even if you're too manly to enjoy playing as a girl, this is a big, well-written, very well implemented game with humour and sex and a guy in a wookie costume AND it's got puzzles and storyline and hidden stuff to enjoy if you haven't got a one-track mind.
Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.
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