Wednesday, October 5, 2016

IF Comp '16: Tentaculon

Tentaculon, by Ned Vole

"Tentaculon" is a Twine game, but in the style of an older "Scientist in the Lab" parser puzzler. You play, yes, a scientist in his lab, who's been working on experiments involving inceptioning into a squid's dreams. Sure enough, something goes wrong and it's up to you to figure out what and how to fix it.

While it does use Twine effects to some success (my favorite is a bit of bobbing text you have to click on at the right time), I feel that it would work better as a traditional parser game. So much of the action is taken up by moving around and solving object-related puzzles that Twine feels like an ill fit. It's also sloppy: sometimes exploring a tangent link will provide you with a back option and sometimes you'll have to use Twine's step-back feature. At one point there's an external link that does not open a new browser tab, and so following it means you'll have to start the game over from the beginning. More time spent on polishing the player experience would have helped.

As for the game itself, it seems fine enough. I got to a point with no more forward moves, which I suspect was because I didn't explore more a control panel I had encounter earlier. I wasn't engaged enough to go back and give it another go. I really wonder if "Tentaculon"wouldn't have gone down a lot smoother if it had been a parser game like the ones its emulating.

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