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To End All Wars Reviews

Author: Duncan Bowsman
Date: 2009

Reviewed by James Webb (as revgiblet)

A First World War game - one that reminds me of Over the Edge in that it seems to want to portray the brutality of the Great War by making the game punishing.  As in 'Dung Beetles Are Aliens', DB tries to evoke a particular atmosphere through his presentation, this time through the medium of music.  The jolly nature of the tune jars a little with the nature of the game, but I assume this is intentional as the lyrics are clearly satirical and therefore tie in with the heart of the game.
The style and presentation are excellent.  DB puts lots of effort into this side of his projects and it contributes to making his games a pleasure to play.  Navigation of the text is painless and his descriptions are spot-on.  In terms of the writing matching the genre and atmosphere of the game, all of DB's efforts for this comp have been flawless.

However, I'm not too sure what DB is trying to achieve with this.  There is no obvious plot, other than to survive, so the incentive to play the full version of this game appears to depend on the player's interest in a series of timed puzzles, with failure to complete being punished harshly.  The game invites you to try a variety of different actions, each of which either kill you or reduce the number of moves that you have left to prevent inhaling toxic death.  Checking the hints seems to confirm that it's impossible - like Over the Edge - to complete the game.  I suppose that you can't fault it for making its point.  It does, however, make it hard for me to judge this game.  What am I judging it on?  The writing is, as I would expect, great but there isn't anything else about this effort that makes me want to play on.  As an educational tool, a First World War IF game has the potential to be perfect.  Combining DB's writing with the chance to learn more about 1914-1918 *does* appeal to me (I do have a passing interest in military history) but beyond that there's not much to entice you to play this game.

I would certainly recommend the full-game to myself, and people like me, but I am fairly sure that this would be unlikely to become anyone's favourite ADRIFT game.  But that doesn't matter - an interesting and very good ADRIFT game would be enough for me.

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