Speculative Fiction (Diane Christoforo and Thomas Mack)

Speculative Fiction is a lighthearted fantasy game that debuted as an Introcomp participant. But then, unlike many Introcomp authors, Christoforo and Mack came back and finished it, presenting a complete game, map, and supporting walkthrough.

The game’s concept is that you play W.D., the familiar of an incompetent and currently imprisoned wizard, who has set out to rescue your master from the tower cell in which he currently resides. Doing that requires raising money; raising money is going to involve a range of unethical actions, from bank robbery to stealing from a blind beggar. The game is gleeful about the amoral nature of its protagonist, and resoundingly silly. My favorite solutions involved elaborate ways of deceiving other characters, from playing on momentary inattention to setting up the NPCs for complex misapprehensions: the puzzle designs use the NPCs in ways that go well beyond executing standard fetch-quests or dispatching hostile guards.

The game design is very wide open — most puzzles are available simultaneously, and the player does not need to complete all of them in order to win. This design decision helps offset some of the game’s potential difficulty.

The walkthrough also deserves mention. Far from a bare list of commands, it’s a detailed, chatty, explanatory walkthrough that contributes its own jokes to the playthrough experience, and clarifies which elements of gameplay are optional or necessary.

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