What's good is bad and what's bad is good

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I had never played Slouching Toward Bedlam or even heard of it before class on Monday.  I was kind of excited to try it though; it seemed like several people liked it. But I have to be honest. It wasn't one of my favorites.  I played it for about an hour and half and after the first hour I used the aid of a walk-through.  But I still didn't get all that far.  The game is deep and intricate, almost too intricate to be interactive.  I would have loved the idea in a traditional novel.  So, as with all my IF play - even with the walk-through's help - I plodded along slowly and probably wouldn't have made it far beyond the office without the help.  This game seems for more expert IF players, who can pick up on subtle puzzle cues.  I'm still on the basic, instant gratification level of IF play; if I find a key, the locked door should be evident or I get frustrated!

 I think I still got a good feel for the game though.  I examined the office, the archives and several rooms from the Panopticon.  I also found Cleve's file and read all about him, after visiting his old room.

But regardless of how much I did or didn't like this game, I do respect it.  Just because it was a little too over my head doesn't make it bad.  Actually, I think this speaks volumes about its great complexity.  It was masterfully crafted, I think.  The backstory is impressive; it is intricately woven and is told in meaningful and motivational increments.  The Bethlehem Hospital setting is also striking. I think the task of creating, linking and describing 5 rooms for homework sounds like a daunting task, so I can only imagine the amount of time, effort and creativity that went into crafting the labyrinth of the hospital in this game.

I also thought the plot was impressive, in that the author seemed to effectively blend the atmosphere of retro-suspense movies/literature with elements of science fiction and time travel. It was as if the author was drawing from several different trends and genres and stitching them into his own, intricate IF quilt.  In particular, when I was reading Cleve's file and learned how he thought he had become "unstuck it time," I immediately thought of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five

So just because these elements didn't equate to a "fun" game, as a student in a writing class and just an appreciator of good writing, I have to recognize the strengths of the game's setting and plot.

 

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2 Comments

Maddie Gillespie said:

Way to go Jackie! I'll admit that I used the walkthrough as well when I was trying to figure out everything that I needed to have and do in order to progress in the game. I completely agree with you on your thought that this particular IF game is one geared towards more experienced IF gamers. I think that a player can still learn a lot from it, but it might be hard to actually succeed right off the bat when you're new to the genre.

I'll greatly applaud you on your recognizing the fact that simply because you didn't like something or were frustrated by it that it was automatically evil garbage. I think you were the better woman (not to mention the smarter one) to not rail out your vexations on the game itself. I was totally awed by the game as well. I kept thinking to myself, "If this were a movie, I'd be soo glued to my seat!" lol

Daniella Choynowski said:

There are so many options available that I couldn't backtrack and figure out what I might have missed. The game was interesting, but confusing. I never even got to read the files or discover that Clive was in a Panopticon.But it was always implied a little, through conversations with people, that he was not well.

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