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Dinner Plans Reviews
Author: A One Hit Wonder
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 OveranalysingAIF
Obviously I'm not entirely impartial because of that, but I don't think there's much doubt that Dinner Plans is the best game in this year's Minicomp. OLPD is its closest competition, but that's more of an IF with (optional) sex. By contrast, in Dinner Plans the sex is the plot, making it true AIF game. Specifically, Jon (the PC) is attempting, with the encouragement and assistance of his friend Anna, to romance pizza delivery person Emily.
The way the plot plays out is very linear. The PC meets Emily, then talks to Anna, then meets Emily again, then talks to Anna again, and repeat until the game ends. It's an efficient use of the resources allowed by the Minicomp rules, but it also has the effect of slowing the pacing of the game to a crawl. That was my chief complaint during playtesting, but between time constraints and the restrictions of the minicomp it wasn't possible to do anything about it in the competition version.
None of the game's puzzles are very complex. The solutions mainly involve exploring the environment, and perhaps moving an object to a different room. Additionally, Anna tells the PC what to do about half the time. Unfortunately, most of the PC's actions feel friendly rather than romantic. It's good that they have a basis for a long-term relationship, but I would have appreciated the PC taking the initiative (actually asking Emily out, for example), or at least flirting with her. As it is, he's the perfect gentleman and it's Emily that has to make the first move. There's just enough interaction that it feels like the player did something to achieve that outcome, but it's a close run thing.
The end result is that Emily and the PC finally hook up in one of the two best sex scenes in this year's Minicomp. I think OLPD has the edge, mechanically speaking, but Dinner Plans was the one I enjoyed more because of the greater buildup and the fact that Emily is a more attractive and likeable character.
I'm in two minds about the ending, where it's revealed that Anna has been trying to push Emily and the PC together for her own reasons. On the one hand, it demonstrates that the NPCs have goals and motivations of their own, which contributes positively to their characterisation. On the other, it comes at the price of some of the player's agency. That wouldn't matter quite so much in a larger game where there would be more for the player to do, but in a game like this it does detract from my enjoyment a little. Despite that, Dinner Plans was still the game I enjoyed the most.
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