Friday, October 9, 2015

IF Comp'15: Darkiss: Chapter One: The Awakening, Marco Vallarino

After my first few weeks of getting into IF, I haven't had the chance to play much parser fiction, and parser puzzles of the more usual sort aren't really my thing, so bear that in mind. (Having said that, Darkiss isn't really a challenge in that respect.)

The vampire Voigt, freshly awakened, has to find a way out of his own crypt and wreak revenge on the ones who drove a stake through his heart. Most of the narrative concerns Voigt restoring his memories by looking around the crypt's rooms, from which we learn that Voigt wouldn't be out of place either in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (to judge by the light-hearted glee Voigt feels at the remembered torture of friar), or Sesame Street (one of the puzzles involves counting snakes and spiders! Twice!)

I feel that this being a first chapter of a larger narrative sort of set me up to like this less than I otherwise would have. But I have other criticisms as well, unfortunately. 

The writing is pretty heavy-handed, and that's disregarding the fact that it's a translation, unless the siren call of writing in a foreign language prompted the author to add lots of ten-dollar words to the prose. In almost every place where an adjective could be inserted, it is. Now, sesquipedalian gyrations are more or less the norm in Gothic writing, but here the riff on Stoker is a bit too noticeable, even if it was intended (?) as a spoof.

Also, the conversation with the parser was rather stumbly, not because of difficulty issues, but because of the sheer amount of text in each response. It felt like Vallarino has tried to write a Gothic novel in parser form, and I'm not sure the two forms fit. 

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