30 March 2016Superluminal Vagrant Twin

I really liked it! You should try it out.

What I especially liked, and I think distinguishes it from other, shorter Pacian games I've played (and would also recommend -- especially Castle of the Red Prince), is the sense of depth to the world. Where Red Prince feels allusive, SVT is expository. For example, there are some characters who exist only to point the player to other locations to visit, from a mechanical point of view. And yet, the few sentences they're given often give a sense not only of the politics and culture of the world, but also of the characters themselves. It's pretty masterful to be able to do so much with so few words.

It reminds me a little bit of how the exposition in A Dark Room is parceled out in bite-size morsels, though it doesn't make as much sense in SVT. Shouldn't the protagonist know at least most of their homeworlds? The "Visited Worlds" list only contains the one you're standing on when you begin the game. But, this was the kind of quarrel I only thought of after I had finished -- I was willing to accept the artifice while I played.

The only other criticism I have is that I felt the end arrived a little too abruptly. I had found one tool of what looked to be several that I'd need to reach the end, and then by pursuing a different thread, ended up bypassing the process completely. And I was actually looking forward to hunting for tools!

I was OK with the limited parser vocabulary. It felt accommodating rather than restrictive, the same way it did in Midnight. Swordfight. The act of typing felt unnecessary, though, because there are so few verbs, and there are no hidden objects (so far that I found, anyway). I've played some of Draculaland (warning: autoplays music), and it seems like this kind of verb-buttons-next-to-nouns interface would suit SVT well. But I also understand that the tooling to create those interfaces isn't quite as mature as Inform. It struck me as a practical choice, to privilege narrative and mechanics over interface in development time.

(By the way, I named my spaceship The Zoombeast, in case you're shopping for a spaceship for me and are wondering what to christen it_._ Another grace note in the game is when the moment you get to name your ship occurs-- not right at the start, as is typical for roguelikes, but in the mid-game, after you've had time to build a mental picture of it through gameplay.)