(none) Quintin Stone - Interactive Fiction Review
Interactive Fiction
Role-playing Games

Goose, Egg, Badger

Author: Brian Rapp
Language: z-code
Original score: 3
Revised score: 4

This is a difficult game to summarize. Its gameplay is built around a central, hidden premise and if you don't manage to realize it on your own (or consult the SECRETS command), chances are that this game will fail to impress you. Much as it failed to impress me when I first played it. It wasn't until I read some of the post-comp discussion that I discovered its little secret. In my opinion, it's clever enough, but badly clued, and it doesn't make up for the game's shortcomings.

Constrained as the game is by its obfuscated premise, the writing is decidedly uneven. Even though none of the room descriptions are very long -- at most, 3 or 4 lines -- there are a couple of rooms with text consisting or 4 or 5 words. Even knowing the in-joke here, I find this completely unacceptable. On my first run-through this strongly contributed to my sense that this game was a hurriedly rendered surrealist fantasy which didn't have an internal consistency, that it was just weird for the sake of being weird. Well, even now, I can't imagine why my character turned from a girl into a robot when I waited twice.

Another game with an inventory limit which seems to exist only to frustrate the player. Later, as I progressed in the game, I found that the game's habit of listing every item in a room on a separate line started to get out of control. In the sewing room, the room description was only 2 lines of text, followed by six different objects, each on its own line. This seems to be the result of avoiding the standard "You see ... here" format, but the end effect is visually jarring. There's also an NPC that follows you without providing a message to that effect. When you enter a room, that NPC is not present. On your next action, however, you may see an action performed by that NPC and be surprised to look and find it listed in the room contents.

At first I found the game a cautiously enjoyable experience. I say "cautiously" because early on there were some aspects which seemed to portend trouble. As I progressed, I encountered the two minimally described rooms ("All is strangely quiet") and a tedious set of puzzles involving an electrical wire. Stuck at one point, I consulted the hints, which did get me through some situations, but never helped me uncover the game's secret foundation. I still consider it poorly clued. Some may spot it right away. My guess is that most will not, unless they review the full walkthrough or consult the SECRETS command. Following several hints, I appeared to end up in a situation where I did some events out of order. The hint was telling me to use an object I no longer had access to. Frustrated and annoyed, I quit. Having gone back and played, knowing the game's secret, I can admit that the premise is clever. It's just too bad that it doesn't improve the gameplay any. All I can seem to get from it is extra points.

Final score: 3 (Revised: 4)

High point:
Threatening the badger with the vacuum cleaner.

Low point:
Reading the room descriptions of the animal pens.
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