in Comp96

Alien Abduction? by Charles Gerlach [Comp96]

IFDB page: Alien Abduction?
Final placement: 9th place (of 26) in the 1996 Interactive Fiction Competition

Really provocative premise. Loved the Twilight Zone feel of things, and finding out more about character’s (and character’s father’s) past worked quite effectively. On the downside, some fairly significant omissions (including an axe but not implementing “chop” or “cut”, making a puzzle where a significant portion keeps responding “that’s not important” [this is the spring arm on the contraption & the axe], having the laughable response “It’s not effective to attack with the axe.”)

Prose: Generally effective, and sometimes quite chilling. A bit of awkwardness shows through at times, but never enough to jar.

Difficulty: Except for one major “guess the verb” puzzle (the springarm), this was pretty straightforward. The most difficult part for me (aside from the springarm) was figuring out to get a “real” axe first.

Technical (coding): Some errors including no response to putting things in cylinder, TADS errors on taking shapes. Much was anticipated, but some significant things were not. Could use another round of beta testing.

Technical (writing): Virtually no spelling or grammar errors jumped out. Well-proofed work.

Plot: Outstanding. With the exception of a somewhat disappointing ending (though justifiable — I just crave closure), AA gave a hint of how truly chilling suspense-oriented IF can be. The premise, the way information was slowly released, the drama & emotional intensity were really all quite strong. This was definitely the most enjoyable aspect of the game.

Puzzles: One or two quite clever (the duck), most well-oriented to moving the plot along. The “aliens testing your mental capacity” was an excellent pretense for puzzles. Hints were generally quite well-done, and with the exception of the springarm thing, puzzles were overall pretty good.

OVERALL — a 7.8

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