[IFComp 2012] Murphy’s Law

Only 18 days left to judge the competition and I still have 12 more games to go! Let’s get started, shall we? Murphy’s Law by Scott Hammack opens:

Thing are looking up! After decades of scrimping and saving, you’ve finally pulled yourself out of debt. The only thing left standing between you and financial independence is one last mortgage payment. What could possibly go wrong?

Ahhh, debt. At least in a game I can be responsible and pay it off.

>look at window
Through your dining room window you can see the living room window of the house next door, formerly occupied by the Ryersons. Mrs. Ryerson used to have a habit of doing housecleaning in the nude and “forgetting” to close the drapes, but that particular avenue of pleasure was closed off to you after Caroline caught you looking one morning. Anyway, she’s gone now. They’re all gone. And you’ve got bills to pay.

This game is… interesting. It’s very step-by-step interactive fiction, and the only time I ever lose is by bleeding to death from a papercut. It took me a game to figure out where the bathroom was, so that I could find a bandaid.

But otherwise, the challenges are easy, as long as I do them in the correct order:

>get in car
You can’t get into the closed your station wagon.

>open car
It seems to be locked.

>unlock car
What do you want to unlock your station wagon with?

>unlock car with keys
You unlock your station wagon.

>get in car
You can’t get into the closed your station wagon.

>open car
You open your station wagon.

>get in car

There are many descriptions of things in my house that lend me to believe there is a rich backstory here. Memories of Caroline, the presumed ex, are in many descriptions. It seems I’m lonely – as I don’t mind that there aren’t coasters for guests, and a bottle of sleeping pills helps me calm my mind each night and drift to sleep. I try to leave work at work – I refuse to even look at my briefcase at home, possibly an old argument with Caroline.

Robbers are the surprise act at the bank, and I don’t/can’t get involved. (I should say in the winning version.) I passively stand by, quietly observing the other customers who are so shaky or scared that they are holding their breath. I refuse to even gawk at the police officers, robbers, or the cars outside the bank – instead, I chuckle mildly to myself as I drive away. It is only at the end that it becomes clear to Murphy Slaw that even getting out of debt was pointless, my house and car are destroyed and I should just be content with a beer.

I’m left feeling a little eh about this one. It’s well-created and I get it – Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong will. I seal an envelope, I nearly die of a papercut. I go to start the car, the battery’s dead. I get to the bank, the bank gets robbed. I get home, there’s an explosion and lightning and my house is gone. I feel like this one could have been a bit richer though – a bit more fleshed out and maybe a bit more entertaining – trust me, no one wants to live this guy’s life.



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