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Question : Is it ok to review a game subjectively which you’re not very good at, really dislike the genre, and know you’re neither going to enjoy nor complete it? Can you even provide an objective review? Discuss.

This is not a review.

So I’ve always been in awe of those people who can both create and solve cryptic crosswords. You know. “Drinking pink Gin in the Club! Whoops! Here comes a crocodile.” and the answer turns out to be ‘tesseract’ or ‘plimsoll’ or something. Here’s the thing. Even when I see these, completed, I still mostly can’t work out the relationship between the clue and the answer. People try to explain it me. ‘Ah!’ I say when it eventually becomes clear. “Ok,” they respond, “now you’ll definitely be able to do this one.” I can’t of course. They despair.

I am not good at word games. The first one I played in an IF context was ‘Nord and Bert couldn’t make Head nor Tail of it.’ – an old Infocom game. I got stuck almost instantly. People rave about Counterfeit Monkey – I wear a confused expression.

In Ailiphilia, I get stuck on the first command and have to turn to the walkthrough. The first command. There is a Pact Cap in the room and I have to take it. ‘OMG, Ade,’ you’re probably thinking, ‘that’s so obvious! How dumb are you?’ Maybe. I suspect, like most people’s, my brain is good at some things, and bad at others.

Ah, but, or so the argument goes, if you just took the time to practice. Maybe. I’m not very good at Golf either and don’t really enjoy it. Should I spend the requisite 10,000 hours on that instead? There are 1000’s of things I’m bad at.

I’m guessing the author of this game is Andrew Schultz who is an absolute master of the interactive word game. I am absolutely in awe of what he has achieved here. I cannot even begin to imagine creating a game like this where the central wordplay mechanic forms both the basis for the prose and the main mechanic for puzzle solving. It’s astounding to me. Every sentence, every description is built around palindromes.

I play for a little while working directly from the Walkthrough. It feels like an exceptional implementation like all Schultz’s games. I imagine if I liked wordplay, I’d probably be wriggling with delight right now.

There used to be a thing where someone might go ‘bah! I don’t like choice games, so I’m scoring it a 1!’ – to which the correct response is – if you don’t like ’em, don’t play ’em – it’s not as if there’s a lack of choice in this competition. I feel it would be unfair for me to score this game. Massive kudos to the Author for creating such a thing, though. Unscored.



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