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Main Course Reviews
Author: quantumsheep
Date: 2008

Reviewed by Abbi Park

1. What was your initial impression of the game, when you first opened it up, and how did the game compare?
Ooh!  A pretty-colored-thing moved across the screen!  Ha ha.  After that: Ooh, this sounds more interesting than I would have thought from the title.  The result?  It WAS interesting.

2. How did the author do within the restrictions?
Fine and dandy.  It seemed succinct.

3. How were the puzzles and/or storyline?
The puzzles were good, except that there was absolutely no indication of one particular step being necessary, and thus I couldn't move on until I peeked into the Generator briefly and found out why.  It had seemed like it might be a matter of guess the verb, but really it was a matter of doing something which I did not know would be necessary in order to accomplish the next step.

4. What did you like best about the game?
Fun descriptions.

5. What did you like least about the game, and how could this be fixed?
I couldn't examine the flap.  Please let me examine the flap.  I want to examine the flap.  You made it so obvious in the description.  Also, it would be nice to give some hint at the step that is required right before SoMorph can eat his first meal (especially since, if I don't know to do that step, I am simply told that the desired prey is not in the room, even if he IS in the room).

6. What stood out most to you from/about this game?
The unique way of describing things, and the subject matter!  Oh, and the particularly gross scene involving a human.

7. How did this game compare with the others in the competition and/or what set it apart?
Very unique third person point of view, and the only game where you are playing as something other than a human.

Any other comments?

Reviewed by revgiblet

Random is not necessarily fun

AWARD:  The "Laugh Out Loud" Award

Another nifty title page - this one with limited animation.  Wow.  That's somewhat impressive.  As is the writing style for SoMorph.  It's a curious mix of sophisitication and primitive urges, and it works quite well.  Actually, this game gets the award for the only entry that made me laugh out loud.  What did it?  Well, for some reason I found "GSOH.  Seeks similar" a very amusing comment in context.  Although I find many things amusing (Gorxungula's Curse for example) it takes that little bit extra to get me to laugh out loud.  Main Course managed it.

Another thing that I felt deserved kudos was the simple comment "SoMorph think it best not to examine everything".  That, I felt, was a great way of acknowledging the limitations of the competition whilst also 'staying in character'.  I suppose that this competition has really confirmed to me how much I appreciate and enjoy those little extras that the author goes to the trouble of adding.

Now for something completely different.  Have you ever had a conversation with someone who insists on completing your sentences for you, often getting it wrong on occasion?  Yes?  It's really annoying, isn't it.  SO PLEASE DISABLE AUTO-COMPLETE AS THE DEFAULT.  There were also a couple of other minor bugs.  Dropping the catnip in the bathroom counted as dropping it in the Cryo Tube room, and when I tried to eat Alan Davies (that probably doesn't make much sense if you haven't played the game) I was told that "SoMorph can't see the dead human" before I began to eat him.  These were just minor bugs, and these things slip through easily enough unless you recruit a playtester or three.

The game itself was amusing and enjoyable, though I had one major gripe with it.  To complete the game you have to grapple with a Battle System - possibly the default ADRIFT one.  The problem with the way that combat is handled in this game is that it is incredibly random with no way of influencing the result in your favour.  You attack.  Maybe you hit, maybe you miss.  He attacks.  Maybe he hits, maybe he misses.  The issue I have with this is that it's easy to die because the numbers didn't come up right - i.e. through no fault of your own.  I had to play this game four times to complete it, not because I messed up puzzles or failed a timed scene, but because I lost the combat.  Random is usually the spice of a good game - but there is no quicker way to suck the fun out of a game than to take control away from the player and kill him off through no fault of his own.

That said, at least the game kept me coming back for those four tries it needed.  I suppose that knowing that the games are going to err on the smaller side helps motivate you to complete them, but I also wanted to complete this one.  I felt that I owed the author that much, since he'd put a lot of effort into creating a fun experience.  And on the whole he succeeded.  Another good entry in what has been an impressive array of games.

Reviewed by Lumin

1. What was your initial impression of the game, when you first opened it up, and how did the game compare?

From the intro I thought I was going to play a guy trying to keep a monster from taking over his ship, while at the same time protecting his cat. (nice nod to Alien btw...)

What actually happened, was, uh, different.

2. How did the author do within the restrictions?

Pretty well I'd say. The rooms were noticeably sparse, but that kind of makes sense on a spaceship anyway. Just like Abbi I really really really wanted to examine the flap though, I was sure that puzzle had something to do with it. (when in reality the actual solution was so simple I completely overlooked it...)

3. How were the puzzles and/or storyline?

I liked the way SoMorph viewed his surroundings, it added a lot of interest to the descriptions. Except for that business with the flap I didn't have any real trouble with figuring out the puzzles, though I suspect quantumsheep and I have slightly incompatible senses of humor...  

4. What did you like best about the game?

I've always liked playing non-human characters. SoMorph was a non-human character so I liked him, even if I didn't really like him like him and if not for the fact that he was representing me in the game world I would have been okay with Alan putting a boot through his squishy purple face...if that makes any sense.  

5. What did you like least about the game, and how could this be fixed?

Um, I thought a couple (well, all) of the puzzles were a little morbid and/or gross, but I probably just don't have a weird enough sense of humor to appreciate them.  

Any other comments?

Reviewed by Duncan_B

PROS: quantumsheep’s title screen made me go “ooo… ahh…”

SoMorph is an intriguingly contradictory/cohesive character whose behaviours, thoughts, and attitudes manage well to come off as actually alien.  Its dialect was a clever way around ADRIFT’s 3rd person language problem and really helped immersion.

I was really intrigued by the ambiguity of the “have words with” bit... again, the strange character of SoMorph is really the root of this drive.

Some of the scenes could have easily attempted to be horrific (a word I must stop using), but the prim and tidiness of SoMorph (along with the dialect & presentation) made them funny by contrast.

CONS: A lot of extra spaces everywhere in this adventure artificially inflated even small info-bombs to intimidating sizes, which put some speed bumps into the process of immersion and could probably take some people right out of it.

The game did have a lot of little errors.  Movement messages broke SoMorph’s dialect (i.e., they said “SoMorph moves” rather than “SoMorph move”).  Spelling of names was almost never consistent— “Davies/Davis”, “SoMorph/Somorph/SeMorph”— but since “e” is far enough from “o” on the keyboard, I almost feel like I’m meant to assume that misspellings (“Filfthy?”) were deliberate.  At points some conflicts also arose with objects, esp. in terms of “SoMorph can’t eat/see…” messages that should not have appeared (or so I assume, since the actions they referenced were indeed available [in fact, these messages often accompanied the response indicating results said action]).

Everyone seems to have mentioned the flap, already.

Combat came off as particularly boring & awkward, nowhere near as fun(ny) as the rest… also, the compactedness of the combat messages broke the whole extra-spacing issue by displaying messages in-line with the rest of the text, so by the time combat rolls around the game’s formatting issues are not only inconsistent, but doubly worse.  The first time few times I was being attacked, I didn’t even notice.

I suppose I was lucky enough to get through combat on the first run, apparently there was some trouble with that… why not make SoMorph much more powerful than the others?  I don't feel like a cat and an unarmed guy coming out of cryosleep should be able to take down an alien that can shapeshift and eat basically anything.

OVERALL: A strongly character-driven adventure that, despite some annoying formatting issues and comp restrictions yadda-yadda, is the only adventure in the comp that made me laugh out loud (twice).  Recommended for those who would play a game for fun rather than technical prowess, but possibly not for the easily frustrated.

I want another SoMorph game.  SoMorph must "have words with" this Bryan (Brian?) figure.

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