IFcomp 2016: Labyrinth of Loci

Next: “Labyrinth of Loci”

“Labyrinth of Loci” is an atmospheric adventure in which we tread our way through a series of rooms to the end of the labyrinth, each room representing a discrete game which may or may not ask that we have a necessary characteristic (three are chosen at the beginning, in a sort of character-creation phase) or object from a previous room. The rooms are presented in random order, and we always have a choice between two rooms to visit; in this way, not every room is visited in the course of one playthrough, and not every room contains a mini-adventure that can be won at the time it appears.

I say it’s atmospheric, and this is due both to its visual presentation and its background music. I will confess that I did get tired of the music fairly quickly, though. The visual presentation, meanwhile … we have all these black-and-white images of doors, which we click to enter the rooms beyond, and they do give the game an overall sense of mystery. The text font is pretty and unique, highly complementary to the story being told, though not always so easy to read.

Aside from what we learn in the character creation phase, our hero is pretty much an Ageless, Faceless, Gender-Neutral, Culturally Ambiguous Adventure Person. I don’t know that it matters, in any case: the scenarios we encounter are often so disparate that a more defined player character probably wouldn’t make a lick of difference. (And let’s face it: when we talk about “attitude” and “personality”, we usually mean that that narrative voice is playing the story for comedy; and this is not a comedic work.)

Some things are constant, though. Certain names and references appear in more than one place. While the individual adventures might be relatively discrete, the world is still pretty coherent.

I would have liked to have a savegame feature. The random-room format makes the game a bit unpredictable, so if you want to explore a certain mystery–say, perhaps you failed one room on your last playthrough, or perhaps you’re curious about another–you have to play over from the beginning, and hope that chance puts the thing you want/need in your way. And really, it feels to me as though the strongest draw factor here is the plumbing of mysteries. I want to see how everything works.

If this were breakfast, it might be an assortment of crusty bread and cheese, and apple juice. That seems to be about the right flavour. A true gourmet knows that certain cheeses go better with certain breads, but by the time you’ve figured out the winning combinations, you might be too full to eat it. Maybe it’s better to just enjoy the experience of a random combination, sub-optimal or not: it’s still pretty tasty.

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