I guess this is another ifMUD in-joke game. I make this guess partly based on my interpretation of the included readme file, which suggests that the majority of the author’s support came from MUD denizens, and partly on the fact that I recognize a very few references in the game, like “Eeagh!” and “Awwwk, want cork nut!”, as being from the MUD. I already talked about this kind of game in my review of Pass The Banana, so I won’t rehash all that here. I will say that the ifMUD in-joke game is rapidly climbing my list of least favorite competition entry genres. Right now it’s hovering just below the simulated-house and learning-Inform genres. I don’t know, I guess it’s funny if you’re in on the joke (though maybe not — not being in on the joke, I wouldn’t know one way or another), but to me it’s just really boring. There were some jokes that didn’t feel like they required outside knowledge, but I didn’t find them very funny. In addition, I can only believe that the solution to the game is another kind of in-joke, because I can’t see any logical way that players could come up with it on their own. This makes Death a slightly worse offender than Pass The Banana — at least the latter game was solvable for a MUD outsider. For outsiders to solve this one, they’d have to engage in quite a bit of random guessing, and spend a lot of time trying to do things with barely implemented red herrings. Being such an outsider, this is what I did for about 15 minutes before I gave up and looked at the walkthrough. I didn’t have fun.
Add to these flaws the fact that Death has quite a few spelling and grammar errors, and some really ugly formatting (the game seems to have an aversion to blank lines). Also factor in that the readme suggests that the game makes heavy use of “WHO IS ” and “WHAT IS “, but the game almost never seems to recognize such questions, responding instead with another irritating nonsensical reference. Did I mention that the solution doesn’t make sense either? Let’s not forget the fact that the game offers several objects to play with, but most of them don’t offer the slightest trace of interactivity. There’s a bottle that’s “not something you can open.” There’s an eggplant that’s “plainly inedible.” There’s a dustbuster that’s “not something you can switch.” The list goes on. Anyway, put all these things together and you’ve got one pretty tedious interactive experience on your hands.
The author announces that he plans to put out a “hopefully less buggy version of the game” after the competition is over. This is a good idea, of course, but I think that even after such a version emerges, it will only appeal to a limited audience. Basically, if you hang out on ifMUD a lot, you might enjoy it. If, on the other hand, you’re like me… you probably won’t.