[IFComp 2012] Body Bargain

Body Bargain by Amanda Lange has the subtitle: A Tale of Transhumanism. Sweet.

I wake up with surgery done:

You are generally pretty happy with what you see. Your body is thin and healthy-looking, belly flat, breasts pert, and legs toned and thin. Your hair and eyes are now the same color: brilliant blue, your favorite. Even your skin, pale and smooth, has a slightly blue cast, which you think makes you look a bit like a fae or an elf. You had considered asking for pointed ears, but, maybe you’ll venture this next upgrade.

And, it appears that this is a pretty mild surgery, in the scheme of things. Doctor Overclock is like, a 7 foot tall robot, and one guy wants to be a dragon, so I can live with blue skin.

The game lets me explore and take matters into my own hands, which I like. There’s no forced time to get the file back to the doc, or to get the vial to him. There’s a lot going on and enough to explore.

As far as the game goes, I would have liked to see more descriptions for things. I can’t look closer at my scars, or look at the tubing for the IV line. I also would have liked better responses to the doctor answering questions:

>ask doctor about juicer
There is no reply.

>ask doctor about dragon
There is no reply.

These are other patients we are working on, and when we talk about the dragon’s file, he tells me all kinds of things. It would have been nice to have this character fleshed out a little more.

One of my other issues (that I had to go to the walkthrough for) was the monitor and the keypad. I couldn’t figure out that I had to “consult the monitor about” things, and there was no prompt by examining the monitor. I tried several things to search for things on the computer, but that one was confusing.

Despite these minor issues, Lange does a great job with her descriptions and sensory applications. This game really freaked me out in parts! Here are just a few small examples:

Or, rather, it used to be your flesh. As the tattoo represented a significant investment at the time, and you really liked the compound design, you couldn’t bear to part with it entirely, and asked the surgeon to frame it for you once it was removed. He complied, but his surgical skills are greater than his skills at framing, and it’s been bolted in to the frame quite hastily for the time being with a series of thick staples.

The preserving chemicals it was soaked in prior to this treatment must be the main source of the formaldehyde smell in this room.

I mean, I framed my tattoo. How sick is that? Where do you put a framed tattoo? Over the mantel?

You hear a high-pitched sound, and the doctor comes down on to the man’s arm with a spinning circular saw, following the line of your incision. The saw chops in to bone with a horrible screaming noise, and blood and muscle fly indiscriminately from it. You step back and hold up your hands, to avoid getting viscera in your eyes.

And viscera? And how Lange describes the sounds? Disturbing. I cringed reading that.

The air is full of the smell of blood and powdered bone.

And the smells. SMELLS of blood and powdered bone. I mean, I never have smelled powdered bone before, but I can smell that room.

Lange really captures all of your senses to really involve you in the story. And it’s creepy. I think, if anything, it almost put me off the game. It was so hard to play the first time through (I escaped, to hell with everyone else) and I was really hesitant to go back and re-live this sensory story.

Which, in a terribly roundabout way, is a compliment. Lange is descriptive in her writing, and she does a really great job of bringing the player directly into the story. Really great job.

I played this one before bed, and I am-not-shitting-you, I had a nightmare about this one. A NIGHTMARE ABOUT AN IF GAME. (For the record, I was in the server room, and I could not get that damn keycard to work… so it was a little bit like real life playing the game, but still!) Anyways… sweet dreams.

7/10.

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