IFDB page: Rippled Flesh
Final placement: 24th place (of 26) in the 1996 Interactive Fiction Competition
Having already played the author’s other competition entry, I sincerely dreaded playing this one. Probably my low expectations contributed to my feeling that this game was actually slightly better than Punkirita Quest. Sure, the writing is still riddled with errors, and sure, the plot and premise still make absolutely no sense, and yes, the coding is very poor and the design even more so, but at least this time I had some faint grasp of what was supposed to be happening. Perhaps this derives from the fact that Flesh takes a more realistic setting and thus less needs to be explained by the author’s inadequate verbal skills. Of course, that doesn’t mean I liked it — just that it was less painful than the other game. Progress? Perhaps — I’ll just try to judge the game on an objective basis rather than on its dubious achievement of being a better piece of work than Punkiritia.
Prose: The descriptions were weak, and the overall feel of the game evoked walking through the brain of a mental patient — a series of non sequiturs, loosely tied together by an irrational framework. The writing suffered under so many errors that they seriously occluded the author’s ability to communicate, and this problem was compounded by the fact that many (most, actually) of the objects and rooms in the game seemed to have no real purpose or function.
Difficulty: I found it possible to move through the game without much trouble, which is a good sign; at least the language problems didn’t render the game so opaque that it was simply impossible to complete without a walkthrough. Mainly the point of the game simply seemed to be finding one’s way through a maze of rooms — the one real puzzle (the wardrobes) had its effect spoiled by the fact that one didn’t really gain much of anything by solving it.
Technical (coding): Coding problems abounded. Nothing fatal, but certainly plenty of the nonsensical and downright baffling. For example, how about those lights that get turned on so brightly that they blind the character, yet in the next turn the room is still dark?
Technical (writing): Really quite terrible. My only hypothesis is that the author is a student (rather than a speaker) of English, and a rather poor one at that. A dictionary and a spell-checker would improve things immensely — then the proofreading can begin.
Plot: No, there wasn’t one. A bunch of random events tied together by a whacked-out ending does not a plot make.
Puzzles: I mentioned the game’s only real puzzle above. Other than that, the game’s “puzzle” was just walking through the exit in each room until finally arriving at the “win game” room. Nothing much made sense, and so the whole experience ended up being unsatisfying. The real brain-twister is why the author chose to enter this piece into the competition in the first place.
OVERALL — A 2.0