IFcomp 2016: Night House

Next: “Night House”, a Quest engine offering. We’re getting close to Halloween, and this looks like an appropriate game for the season.

The Quest engine seems to have improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years, and this latest venture is a fine example of what Quest has to offer. Not that there are massive explosions to wow the senses: such things are exceptions that few could or should attempt to repeat. What we have here instead is a competent, capable game with features that could easily become a standard in Interactive Fiction … something extensive enough to get your teeth into, complex enough to satisfy, yet simple enough to feel accessible.

The story here begins with an urgent need to use the bathroom–which is, really, just an excuse to lock our player out of their room and force them to explore the strangely deserted house. The puzzle design is cunningly done; there’s also a bit of playing with the player’s expectations with regard to who the protagonist actually is. I found that revelation quite delicious. A lot of the imagery was also nicely creepy without running over into over-the-top grotesquerie.

If I have any complaints, it’s that some of the actions required don’t account enough for alternate phrasings. At one point, for instance, I was unable to put one item on another because the verb required was “use”, even though “using” item A on item B resulted in the first being put on top of the other. Being more used to “put”, I assumed at first that I was doing this wrong, and it was only by recourse to the walkthrough that I learned to use “use” instead.

All in all, a fine and credible piece. I’m thinking of coddled eggs for breakfast–made in an actual egg coddler–with sauteed mushrooms and toast, and grapefruit juice to finish. Restraint is required to keep the eggs from turning hard-boiled, and the coddler IS a bit of a curiosity; but fancy equipment or not, the end result is a satisfying breakfast with some interesting texture.

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