Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sigmund's Quest by Gregor Holtz

Sigmund's Quest is the visually colourful point-and-click introduction to an incomplete CYOA style adventure based on a tale from Norse mythology. It runs in a web browser, and its deliberately magnified, pixelated colour graphics fill the screen. Unfortunately this introduction is way too short (I reached the end in about five minutes) to sell or indicate much about the game-to-be except that it will have charming graphics.

The blurb mentions werewolves and incest; none of either were in evidence in my playthrough. The tip of the story didn't hook me, as the content demonstrated up until the endpoint was too generic a tale of medieval royalty. The prose is simple and a bit workmanlike, with an earnestness which does little to riff off the playfulness that the graphics suggest as an aesthetic possibility.

The author cites the inspiration of King's Quest. This is writ large in the visuals, but the aggressive attitude of the King's Quest games (which I really, really don't miss - both the games and the attitude) is not. Yet I feel there needs to be some kind of attitude here to something. That's what's missing.

There is still no IFComp rule against entering incomplete works, but historically they've faired poorly. The context is 99% of the reason why. If I'm given scores of games to play, why would I want to play one which isn't finished? Or in this case, barely begun? The space for reception of this kind of demo can become dangerously unreceptive upon the mere apprehension of the fact that it is a demo. In another context I can see the author using this as a fully functional and technically successful demonstration of how the game will operate – just looking at it over someone's shoulder, you'd probably say 'Wow, cool!' – but that's not how players approach IFComp games.

From a reviewer's perspective (which is one which shouldn’t be considered in advance) there is also the feeling that I don't want to end up beta-testing a game I'm meant to be reviewing.

To put the Introcomp spin on what I’ve experienced of Sigmund's Quest, I wouldn't be interested in playing the rest of it if it were to continue in the fashion already demonstrated, and that’s primarily because I'm not trusting the prose or writing to become interesting if they continue in the fashion already demonstrated. Such a perception all comes down to the smallness of the sample space presented by this intro, one way or another.

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