Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Eat Me" (review)

"Eat Me" is a parser game with a tightly constrained verb set, written by Chandler Groover for the 2017 interactive fiction competition. Chandler Groover is one of the most poetic voices in modern IF. A sentence or two from his keyboard generates an entire landscape of macabre surrealism. That's not just a writer-ly skill he employs in the opening paragraphs, but one he applies with equal vigor in every single passage. On the down side, it can be a little overwhelming if the reader doesn't enjoy the style of fairy-book horror which is Groover's specialty. I sort of enjoy the genre.

I mentioned the tightly constrained verb set, a puzzle mechanism which has become quite popular in recent years. "Eat Me" allows compass directions, "examine", and "eat" as the principle actions, to complete a series of six puzzles. I initially presumed that this whole game was a psychological allegory for some grotesque eating disorder. I continue to suspect that bulimia narratives (is that a thing?) were probably an inspiration for this writing. But later game events suggest a more fairy-tale inspiration: Grimm's "Hansel and Gretel" or what not. Well it can be both, can't it, fairy tale and allegory? Most great fables work on both levels.

The puzzles are not difficult and more important the game comes packed with a cleverly integrated hint system. I believe it is the author's intent that the game should not enter an unwinnable state. That said, I found one instance where I lost an item (a pet crow) which I needed to solve the final puzzle. My crow seemed to disappear from the game. I started over and finished the game fairly quickly on the second run.

Post Review Addendum (with mild spoiler): I played again, trying to recreate the situation where the crow disappeared. This time I found him in the Solar. Is it possible I had simply overlooked him there? On the original play I had run straight back to the Fen to find him. He wasn't there. Then returned to the solar to search his cage. In paying such close attention to the cage, could I have perhaps missed the crow in the main room description? Yikes.

1 comment:

  1. I'm the author. Sorry, that sounds like a nasty bug! The crow should return either to the solar or the fens if it leaves your shoulder. If you can remember the circumstances under which it vanished, I'll try to fix it. I'm not sure if you can contact me through this comment system, but my email is on the IFComp website. I apologize again!