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Sandyís Lost Doll Reviews
Reviewed by James Webb (revgiblet)
I SEE NO SUCH THING
Under-implemented, with a few careless bugs (for example, the magical doorway that claims to lead to the kitchen but takes you to your parents' bedroom) means that this is the least polished of all the entries. There's very few clues as to what's going on, and I could only assume from the title that I was Sandy looking for my lost doll. It becomes clear after a few turns that I am either a child or that my parents have never really cut the apron strings, but I could not find out if this was a cunning twist or not because I couldn't complete the game. This is the sort of game that struggles to compete with entries like Mr. Fluffykins and ESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS Chance but it had something charming about it.
It turns out that I quite like 'charming'. I'm learning this about myself. It was the reason why I enjoyed A Witches Tale a lot, and it's the reason why I can't be as harsh on this game as some other individuals might be. I found it quite therapeutic to wander around aimlessly trying to find something that I could interact with. I got quite excited when I found there was a different response the second time that I played around with the toilet seat. This game actually makes me think there might be a market for a sandbox game that just lets you potter around a house trying on different pairs of shoes and making sandwiches to hide under pillows.
Reviewed by Duncan_B
3rd place: Sandyís Lost Doll, by Sandy.
The first thing any player will notice about Sandyís Lost Doll is that although thereís some degree of detail in most of the room descriptions, absolutely zero objects are implemented. Aside from lack of implementation giving the player no motivation to use "look", and providing no clue further to use the specific syntax "look in X", the game is unwinnable due to a coding issue that should have been caught in playtesting (Winning taskís restriction is "Referenced number must be equal to 2" rather than "mom must be equal to 2").
Really, anything beyond the above is just nitpicking, but I will mention one specific room. "Hallway" doesnít even really have a room description, just a mention that it is the hallway, and the directions leading away. There is also nothing to signify to the player that they ought to type "look for doll" here (and no reward for them if they do so). Properly immersive room descriptions & structured, well-paced signification are keys to writing good IF. A little playtesting can help develop these things.
Overall, Iím inclined to read Sandyís Lost Doll as a sort of Rybreadish poetic experiment in some ways, where the player enters believing from the title and room descriptions that they will play as Sandy, but where they later discover through bleak and hopeless exploration of an imposter house that the protagonist is actually Sandyís doll lost in a roughly describable, but inaccessible prison-world with no doors, no windows, and no exits dominated by the vague presence of overbearing parental figures and abandoned by children. Then again, I also get the strong feeling that Iím the only one who interpreted the experience of the game this way & that itís not what the author intended. Plus, whenever I have to interpret something that way, it pretty much automatically knocks five stars off on the conventional rating scale. Unconventionally, though, Sandyís Lost Doll gave me a surreal & chilly frisson for a few minutes, which is perhaps all I can ask of any game or story.
Reading revgiblet's review makes me wonder if, because of the lack of implementation, any given player is likely to essentially make what they want of the game... perhaps this is an important function of minimalism in IF...?
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