“Lovely Assistant” by Bitter Karella is parser driven interactive fiction. Karella has written many past IF comp games set in Tim Burton like settings of dark whimsy. This game shares that familiar style. The PC is a magician’s assistant (Trixie) whose magician (Mugwort) has been kidnapped by a devious rival. Trixie explores Mugwort’s mansion, collecting various magical props and using them to open up new locations for exploration. The map is fairly sprawling, about twenty five rooms arranged in a highly branched pattern making it easy to overlook exits.
The writing and puzzle design are as delightful as past works by this author, but the implementation and parser are still rough around the edges. There is wine that can’t be drunk and a clown that isn’t parsed with the word “clown”. There is a good in-game hint mechanism, but the fussy parser renders some puzzles frustrating even when the player knows what to do. Many of the author’s past works have been written in Quest, so I imagine that the switch to Inform has come with a learning curve. This will be an excellent game after additional testing.