IFComp 2014: Eidolon   Leave a comment

A.D. Jansen’s Eidolon involves a child with insomnia who finds their way to another world. I had trouble finding a good excerpt to reproduce. There are too many.

It is a bright morning in spring and you are seven years old and a shoal of golden flies is simmering on the surface of the wide river, on the other side of which lies another world.

Ok, fine: here’s another:

And every bit of its disturbing span has been overburdened with stars; at any moment space might collapse under the weight of them.

One more:

Sometimes, when there is almost no light, a strange phenomenon will occur. Things will reveal their true selves to you.

Ordinary things: decorations, appliances, furnishings. They shed their shapes and leave crumpled snakeskins behind.

I’m trying to say the writing is some of the best of the comp but I’m not good enough at writing myself to explain why. “Shed their shapes and leave crumpled snakeskins” has the alliteration of “shed” and “shapes” and “snakeskins”, the vivid imagery of light and dark, the quiet combination of the ordinary and the strange.

Sadly, the interaction somewhat fails. The (very long) opening and a (moderately long) ending are mostly lacking in real choices, but there’s a central structure that wants very much to have puzzles; here is where the problems lie.

One trick the game does is give a list of a many mostly indistinguishable items and require you to click on all of them to find something hidden. Or to click on a sea of “the” words to do the same. This is, to say the least, annoying.

There’s also a frustration more commonly seen in graphical adventures that Andrew Plotkin calls the “Can’t take that now” syndrome:

The designers make thorough use of a pacing gimmick which goes like this: you click on an object, and the game says “I have no use for this.” Or “I don’t need that.” (Sometimes, in a burst of honesty: “I have no use for this now.”) . . . Later, when you stumble across the puzzle in which you do need that, you go back and click on it, and ping! you’ve got it.

The same thing happens here. There are rooms you can enter and items you can click which give a description, but if you come back later they do something different. There is no apparent reason for this other than these are the points the plot has decided something should happen.

This was also a very long game (I hit the max 2 hours at the end) and a save game feature would have been most welcome. (Especially in the game’s current state — I have heard people mention bugs and crashes.)


Posted October 12, 2014 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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