One thing I've always liked about the IFComp is how it feels like you've just walked into an arcade (or, if you prefer, a library). And like an arcade or library you'll walk by a few titles that are really similar, the shooters with the plastic guns or five year out of date books on HTML or whatever, but then you'll turn a corner and walk down another aisle and find something different.
You could make the case that at its core Beta Tester
isn't different from the first two games I played -- it's an exploration game with some puzzles -- but I would argue that in IF, a game's presentation, or in other words, a game's voice, can be everything. Beta Tester
, then, lives (and dies, unfortunately for me) on its voice.
I get the feeling from this game that the author started off with a lot of energy to work on the first puzzle room, but this energy waned as he went further in. You can hear this in how the style of the voice supports the puzzle solving in the first room with its failure messages and extra descriptions, but later comes to replace much of the player agency with scripted outcomes to the actions you do take.
There is some genuinely funny writing here, but again, later in the game the comedy is less about the style of the voice itself and more about trying to script the comedy like conventional fiction, and for me this just didn't work. The beginning of the scene with Greymyrrh is a good example. I quit a little after this point, as I didn't feel the future boded well, and there was no walkthrough to peek at to see if I was making a mistake (I admire people like Mike S. with the stamina to play all the way through most of the games and write a fully informed review -- unfortunately I'm not one of those people!).
Ultimately Beta Tester
started off strong with real personality, but I think later used this style, to its detriment, as a crutch in place of real gameplay.
As far as I can tell this is the author's first game; I definitely look forward to the second. gameplay script
(I'm not doing this for every game, just the ones that held my interest for a while)
. Some complicated interactions pulled off well. (I've revised an earlier score for Star Hunter downward in this category)Creativity: 8
. Definitely a lot of effort here. WTF!?: 7
. Mainly because any IF game with a personality has something going for it in my opinion. Score: 7.3