IFComp Reviews: A Fine Day for Reaping, Jealousy Duel X

If you’re wondering what this is about, see here.

The first games I tried were A Fine Day for Reaping and Jealousy Duel X. Spoilers follow past the “read the rest” link. If you’re judging the competition games, you’ll probably want to play them before reading on.

These games are not promising.

A Fine Day for Reaping does not work. The premise is that you’re Death–the author admits to a Pratchett influence, here–and you need to round up the souls stuck in the “denial” stage. To which end your employers–whoever they are–mail you a list. Therein lies the problem.

I pick up Death’s mail. The list is in there somewhere. “You can’t read the mail!” says A Fine Day for Reaping. Okay. In my experience mail usually has words on it, which are usually readable, but maybe afterlife mail is different. I take a closer look. “You see nothing special about the mail.” Possibly I need to take it out of the envelope first? No, I can’t open the mail either. I’m running out of ideas here. There’s a bin in the foyer, and I’m tempted to chuck the mail in, but it turns out the bin can’t contain things.

The problem, apparently, is that when I entered the foyer I typed “GET ALL” instead of “GET MAIL.” This is the “guess the verb” problem: you know what to do, but the author’s given you only one way to do it, and you can’t figure out what it is. That the author didn’t anticipate “GET ALL” suggests that A Fine Day for Reaping wasn’t hugely tested. I didn’t continue with this one.

Jealousy Duel X has graphics. (The competition is heavily oriented towards the text-based games usually identified with the “interaction fiction” label, but graphic games are within the rules, and add some welcome variety.) I don’t usually play these. My game-playing computer is a Mac–which I guess says something about how dedicated to gaming I’m not–and the graphic games and homebrewed text parsers tend to be Windows-only. This one included a Mac version. Based on OS 9, weirdly, but it’s a pre-Intel Mac and I can run Classic.

So I read the introduction… and already there’s a problem, because the game is about “you.” Not a particular you, a specific character described in IF’s traditional second person. It’s you you, the generic “you” who appears in Adventure and its progeny, as signaled by the graphics that show the guy as a gray outline. And I don’t want to be this particular “you,” because he’s a dick.

(Probably heterosexual female or gay male players don’t have this problem. You lucky bastards, you.)

See, the premise is that your girlfriend left you. But “If you got phone numbers from some other women and waved them in her face, she might get jealous, and you’d have the last laugh.” Man, if that’s your idea of a fun evening no wonder she dumped you. I can’t identify with anyone who considers this plan in any way sane.

But I gave it a shot. The main screen maps all the places a quantity-over-quality romantic could want to be: Home, the Bar, the Ex’s Party, the Coffee Shop, and… the Abandoned Mine Shaft…?

I don’t know what kind of women you would meet in an abandoned mine shaft, but whoever they are I’m sure that they are totally perfect for Our Hero!

I never found out for sure. This is not a forgiving game–getting phone numbers seems to require buying everybody coffee or beer, and you have a limited amount of money, and it’s easy to lose all of it by getting mugged. There’s no way to save your game, so if you screw up you have to start over. I couldn’t be bothered to figure this one out.

I’ll hope for better things to come. Next up: My Name is Jack Mills. Hi, Jack!

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2 thoughts on “IFComp Reviews: A Fine Day for Reaping, Jealousy Duel X

  1. Hi Jack,

    Thanks for playing my game and posting a review. Like most people who enter the IF Comp I’m really keen on getting feedback and the lifting of the ban on talking about games mid-comp should mean I don’t have to wait so long to get it. I’m sorry that you couldn’t get on with the game but I thought I’d leave a comment to correct something I felt was unfair. Your observation about ‘get all’ is accurate, but I think it is unfair to therefore assume that ‘the author’s given you only one way to do it’. I counted and there are about 12 different ways of manipulating the mail/letters/post that allow you to proceed with the game. ‘get all’ is not included so your criticism is fair but I wouldn’t class this as a ‘Guess the Verb’ problem with only one solution.

    Again, thanks for playing. I’ll correct the ‘get all’ bug for future release. Enjoy the rest of the games and I hope that you have some more encouraging experiences.

  2. Isn’t requiring “GET MAIL” instead of “GET ALL” a “guess-the-noun” problem?

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