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Pay Back Reviews
Author: Vachon
Date: 2003

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 A. Bomire

Overall thoughts: 
This author is much maligned, even among those players who play low-quality games because they like the sex. And this game could quite possibly be the worst I've played by this author. (No, I take that back, his first game Relatives is much worse.) As is usual for Vachon, there is incest involved. If you are looking for a plot, forget it. No attempt at any rational thought process is made in this game. The PC somehow has a dungeon attached to his house, with the entrance/exit in his bedroom, of all places. The game starts with the PC and his sister's friend, Lynn, in this dungeon. The PC forcibly has his way with Lynn, who openly hates the PC. After being raped, she decides that she was all wrong about this lesbian thing and now wants all boys, all the time. Of course, why wouldn't she? The PC lets her go, and his sister finds out. She is, of course, upset about the way the PC treated her best friend and lover. No wait, that's how it would go in real life. In this game she decides she has to find out what the fuss is all about and insists the PC have his way with her as well. Huh? 

Puzzles/Game Play: 
The puzzles in this game are practically non-existent. They consist almost exclusively of which body part to rub/lick/fuck first, a type of puzzle that most players find very annoying. There are a couple of "guess the verb" types of puzzles, at least one of which Vachon addresses in an included README. Even after having played this game before, when replaying it for this review I was unable to complete the game without consulting some old posts at AGX for solutions. I still finished a few points short of the maximum. 

The sex in this game is stilted and forced (both meanings). In typical fashion for this author, it consists of the PC and his partner shouting sexual dialogue at each other (at least I assume that is why Vachon constantly uses all caps in his dialogue). And riveting dialogue it is, too. Here is a sample: 

"I am not getting fucked, you are" Clara says as she pushes you down on the bed. She quickly jumps after you and slides your cock into her waiting pussy. "AAAHHH YESSS, AAAGRRGGGG, your cock feels so good!" Clara says as she starts to ride you. 

"SPLASH, SPLASH!" you hear as you slide in and out of her. 

The author does not speak English as his native language. This part I get, and I actually applaud Vachon for attempting to write in a second language. There is no way I could do the same in French or Spanish, for example. So, I can understand that some of his sentence structures are not quite the way you or I would normally encounter them, and I can try to overlook them. The author has been asked time and time again to have English speaking players play-test his games, and has often insisted that he has done so. If so, it doesn't show up in this game. He has many misspellings and grammatical errors, almost one per paragraph. At least he attempts to lead the PC down the right path in his interactions, with such phrases as "Try to soften her up more first" when attempting the wrong sexual interaction. 

I'll admit that I had a soft-spot for this author. Not because I liked his games, but because I felt he was someone who wanted to write good games, but was struggling through the process. Every game he came out with showed improvement over the last, even if it was in a minor way. He gave me the feeling of "Here's a guy trying hard, but just coming up short." However, when he released this game and some of his following games, I lost all respect for him. With this game and subsequent releases, I got the feeling of something thrown together in a hurry, with no attempt at play testing or good writing. It almost gave me the feeling of someone thumbing his nose at the AIF community. 

Final Thoughts: 
Going into this game, I pretty much knew what to expect having played several games by the same author. However, as low as my expectations where, I was still disappointed. The sheer illogic of this game, even in the AIF world where logic takes a severe beating on a daily basis, just overwhelmed me. Even among other games by the same author, which are generally considered poor in quality, this game sinks pretty low. Bad writing, bad sex, and an illogical/non-existent plot all combine to make a poor game even worse. 

Rating: F 

Reviewed by A. Ninny

Overall thoughts: 
A difficult, yet haunting exploration of a psychopath's fantasy to rape lesbians. An exceedingly dark comedy about an unholy love triangle. 

Such were the promising opportunities evident in Pay Back's opening scene, in which you have captured your sister's man-hating lesbian lover, stripped her naked and locked her up in a dungeon under your house. Given this premise, a story could be built in such a way that we are given in-depth glimpses into some seriously twisted sexual and family relationships. Pedro Almodóvar would have a field day. In fact, his 1993 film "Kika" and his 1990 film "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down" (English title) both explore themes that mirror those possible in this game: obsession and violence, sexual ambivalence and domination. 

Vachon is no Almodóvar. 

What we have in Pay Back are plain vanilla rape and incest fantasies. I should actually take that back - I like vanilla and wouldn't want to insult it. The game is so terribly written and poorly executed that you don't even care whether Vachon has some ulterior agenda or comment, and personally, I don't believe he does. Once begun, I wanted to get through the one single possible sequence of commands as quickly as possible in order that I could see the one single possible ending and thereby click 'no' in the 'Do you want to play this adventure again' dialog box. 

Thinking back now over Pay Back, I find only one thing that makes me believe that Vachon may possibly have rubbed two brain cells together while concocting this game. That is: he forces the player to commit the rape. You cannot escape from the dungeon yourself until you rape Lynn. Is Vachon deliberately exerting an author's influence - authorizing, even condoning raping her? I would have believed this if the rape itself was made to be tough for me to stomach (it would also be a massive turn-on for someone who appreciates good rape fantasy - which it is not). Instead, for reasons known only to him, Vachon would have me believe that Lynn comes to appreciate being raped over and over again. She likes it so much it turns not only her but your sister as well on to you and off to each other. Call me old-fashioned but I don't buy it, and the only thing that ends up being hard to stomach is Vachon's writing. 

This game has simply terrible sex writing. There are no real descriptions, only tons of filler, and by filler, I mean stuff like: "AAAHHH YESSS, AHAAA!" and "SHHLSRRPPH!" There are problems besides this. For instance, you can only perform each sex action once and you must perform sex actions in a predetermined order that seems completely arbitrary. If you try to repeat an action, you get total nonsense disclaimers, like: "Her breasts is real great, but try some other of her too [sic]" and "She is not horny enough for that yet [why does it matter if she's horny - I'm raping her]." Yikes. 

Pay Back has the following technical glitches: 
- misspellings 
- grammar terrible enough that it is actually funny: "Lynns breasts are big and are rock hard too and is pointing straight up." (Aside: are rock-hard breasts sexy? There are games with stone sculptures of women that are sexier than Lynn.) 

- guess-the-verb problems out the wazoo 
- missing objects 
- missing vocabulary 
- stuff that just doesn't make any damn sense whatsoever

Aside from that it is perfect. 

Puzzles/Game play: 
Pay Back has no puzzles. In their place it has guess-the-verb troubles that will trip you up and make you curse your terrible fortune at having chosen to play Pay Back. 

Final Thoughts 
In the hands of someone subtle and competent, the main theme of this game could have been molded into something thought-provoking and difficult. In the hands of Vachon, it is complete and utter drivel. 

Rating: F 

Reviewed by Christopher Cole

Overall Thoughts: 
If you're not put off by the story described above, I'm very worried. This game's story is horrific, but perhaps luckily, Vachon is such a poor writer that the whole thing comes off as rather humorous. In the hands of a good writer, this subject matter could have been one of the darkest, most demented AIF games in history. Instead, it's simply a poorly written fantasy by a writer with very little grasp of how to make a game or write erotica. 

Vachon's native language is not English, and this is easily seen in the game as much of the writing, while one assumes is supposed to be sexy, comes off as a very badly translated story by a non-English speaking ninth grader. I have no problem with non-English native speakers writing games. Sometimes you simply get a strange wording here or there, but Vachon makes no attempt to get help with his English, so the game is replete with spelling and grammatical mistakes. 

I happen to know for a fact that Vachon has tried using beta-testers in the past, but that he does not listen to them, and so his games are always filled with the aforementioned bad spelling and also filled with bugs. "Pay Back" is disgusting and deplorable and is exactly the kind of game (story and design) that regular IF'ers talk about when they say all AIF is poorly written/constructed IF. 

I am, quite frankly, shocked that he wrote as many games as he did, and I blame the AIF'ers who never took him to task for producing such shlock. 

Puzzles/Game play: 
The only puzzles in this game are guess-the verb type. The game is not difficult in terms of solving puzzles, but rather in guessing the exact order in which you are supposed to do things. You cannot proceed unless you can get into Vachon's mind and figure out what he would do next if raping this girl. The only reason this game took more than 10 minutes to play was because I spent numerous turns and at least two points in the game, trying to guess the next action I was supposed to take. 

The sex is short and ridiculous. Filled with girl's screaming "AAAAAHHHHH!" all the time, and descriptive text such as: "You hear a splashing sound as it goes inside her." I also find it completely odd that, though you are raping this girl to start the game, you get text such as 'try warming her up first' or 'she's not horny enough for that yet'. Wait, I thought I was raping this poor girl? What does her being horny have to do with it? Though it does nothing for me, if the game is about rape, you might as well let the player do what he wants when he wants, otherwise what was the point in drugging and handcuffing this girl? 

The sex is not hot in the slightest, and the poor English actually had me laughing out loud at certain points. 

No game killing bugs, and the special commands are laid out for you in a text file, so no real complaints there. But there are numerous minor bugs such as when meeting your sister. She tells you to strip, but typing 'strip' gets back: "You are not wearing any clothes". Apparently you are only carrying your clothes. Important items (such as the handcuffs) are not actually there (or at least you can't manipulate them at all). 

The aforementioned having to do things in an exact order is also highly annoying. 

This game should serve as an example of how not to make an AIF game. Be warned if you decide to play this or any of Vachon's games. They are the worst of the worst. 

Final Thoughts: 
The concept for this game is incredibly disturbing: Lesbianism is wrong and to prove it, you're going to rape a lesbian in order for her to see what she is missing by not liking boys (!). As I mentioned above, handled by a good writer, this could have been a very dark and frightening piece of fiction. Instead it's a horribly written rape and incest fantasy by a bad writer. 

Many of us tried to help Vachon early on in his career, but he wouldn't listen. He felt his games were perfect as they were, and stopped using beta testers at all. It's probably for the best he's stopped making AIF games. 

I was tempted to give this game a D- simply because I laughed out loud so many times while playing. However, I decided not to since I was laughing at parts that Vachon obviously did not intend to be funny. 

Rating: F 

Reviewed by S. Welland

Overall Thoughts: 
Payback is a game I finished for one reason and one reason only, because I agreed to review it. Had it not been for that, the atrocious slaughter of the English language and the comic strip sound effects, such as AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH during the sex scenes would have been enough to have me quit, without saving, for good. Having done a little digging, I soon learned that English was not Vachon's native tongue and I found myself realizing that if I were to write in a different language, I fear my attempt would also, shall we say, SUCK! 

Puzzles/Game play: 
If guessing the verb and thinking to masturbate at the start of the game are considered puzzles, then there were some. Aside from that, not much more thought went into the puzzle side than the sex scenes. 

What can I say that I haven't already said? 

Though the game was short, it took a long time to play. Okay, in all fairness, maybe it only SEEMED to take forever due to the overall contents and having to resort to begging for assistance online to move past the first few minutes of the game. 

Final thoughts: 
I can only be grateful that Payback was not my initial introduction to AIF, as it would have been enough to turn me away forever. 

Rating: F (This rating is PAYBACK for having to sit through it) 

Reviewed by VISOR

Overall Thoughts: 
After discussing Christopher Cole, we now turn to a discussion of the other phenomenon known as Vachon. From the man universally acknowledged as the best writer of AIF to the man universally excoriated as the worst. From the best thing to happen to AIF since the creation of TADS to the worst thing to happen to AIF since Stiffy MacKane. From the man whose leaving brought cries of horror and dismay to the man whose leaving brought sustained applause. In short, from the Master to the Mess. 

And yet … and yet. I find it hard to destroy Vachon as gleefully as others have for one simple reason. Vachon is not, to the best of my knowledge anyway, a bad man. (Or bad boy, I should say, for certain tell tale signs in the game suggest that he has not yet reached his full maturity, but more of that anon.) English is obviously not his native tongue, he knows nothing about how to arouse a woman, and he can't program for sour owl poop, (metaphor stolen from Harlan Ellison) but you could make those same accusations about the Pope, for Heaven's sake! At least that was my position until I actually started playing Pay Back. You are all correct. Vachon is evil. 

I have never been so repulsed by a plot in my life. Okay, that's not quite true. I was repulsed by Depravity Bites but I also had a sneaking admiration for it because it dared to break all the unspoken AIF taboos and was actually well written. Pay Back has none of those virtues. It is just badly done 

Puzzles/ Game play: 
All Vachon games are an exercise in guess-the-verb and this was no different. More than that, I didn't care if I guessed the verb. If there is no desire to see what happens next, why bother to play? 

This is incredibly anaphrodisical. Who needs a cold shower when you've got Vachon. It is clear that Vachon knows nothing about sex. I cannot escape the feeling that Lynn is an actual person who turned down Vachon's advances and this is his revenge. 

Not as many bugs as some other of his games but just as many spelling mistakes. 

Final Thoughts: 
Well, it's not as bad as Stiffy Mackane, but when you've said that you've said everything. Some of his other games are more bug ridden and others are impossible to complete. In this one the plot turned me off instantly and he was never able to recapture me. I will now delete this game from my files. 

Rating: D- 

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