Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Milk Party Palace by Alon Karmi & Glenn Parker

Milk Party Palace is a brief CYOA comedy in which you play a slack hotel employee who needs to round up six gallons of milk to appease visiting celebrity Alec Baldwin. Your eye is also on the twin goals of attending Baldwin’s "Milk Party” and finding out what a milk party even is. With the tone of the game being a bit juvo-Hollywood-teen-comedy wack, I wondered if a milk party might turn out to be a celebration vaguely along the lines of a lemon party, but I will not spoil such a revelation in this review without warning. Nor will I even let you know, without warning, whether such a revelation occurs. Nor will I even let you know, without warning, whether such a revelation is even relevant.

Milk Party was made in Unity, a rarity for a text game. The Cabrera brothers made their sci-fi IF game 'Cypher' with Unity, though that game’s parser was not highly rated, but Milk Party Palace is not a parser piece and it demonstrates a clean and efficient link’n’click style.

I completed Milk Party to reach one of the three advertising endings, and that was enough for me. Obtaining the gallons of milk involves cajoling or harassing various hotel guests by negotiating some absurd scenarios in their respective rooms. Absurd comedy seems to be Milk Party’s main purpose, and that comedy was pretty hit and miss. I confess that I quickly fell offside with the game, and that this caused me to click away impatiently at each encounter in an effort to hurry through it. I felt critical of my unreceptive state afterwards and tried to work out what I hadn’t liked.

It could be as simple a factor as that it all started off with the anticipation of a very short game involving a celebrity, a description which made me interest-weary. Then came the business of chasing up the milk itself, which was almost hard slog. The guests are understandably wary of your bugging each of them for milk, and the encounters are structured around the pains of you trying to extricate the needed gallons in the face of absurd verbal and physical hurdles. These hurdles somehow reminded me in nature of the kind of conversations I’d expect to have to suffer in hell, were I to end up there, albeit shorter in length. It's testament to some kind of effectiveness of what the game is doing along these lines that I did feel aggravated by the hurdles, even though they are less "real" than they might be in a parser-based game, where you could become physically or literally stuck against a puzzle. That basically can't happen to you in Milk Party, but I was still a bit teeth-gnashy throughout the experiences described in the prose.

So even though Milk Party was not all that long, it felt strenuous. Its brand of absurd thwarting is legitimate comedy fodder – and I found some of it funny – but that wasn't enough to drive me to want to engage with its stuff. Deep down in my heart of hearts, I did not feel motivated to care about getting milk for Alec Baldwin, as fine an actor as he is, and thus I did not get into the shenanigans involved in doing so.

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