The Ascot review

This is a CYOA masquerading as an IF.  The writer has a good narrative style.  It’s very informal and joking, and the plot is a bit zany, which lead me to believe that the author is working through some first-author nerves, and feels awkward and perhaps shy about saying things he really means.

The form is pretty limiting, even for a  CYOA.  Most CYOAs give more than two options per choice, and in _The Ascot_ frequently false choices lead to an end-game.  FWIW, I got into the story, which is a short and silly little tale about an inheritance that, even within its silliness, isn’t too coherent and doesn’t make much sense.  — One character rushes on-stage to make sure you agree to something, and rushes off, never to be heard from again.  That kind of thing.

I don’t honestly believe this belongs in the IF Comp (nor _Trap Cave_) any more than hypertext does (a suggestion for next year’s troll).  But I can’t really say that with conviction.  This game is far, far better, more lively and entertaining than _Eruption_, which is what we classically mean by “interactive fiction,” but which failed to tell a story or have any puzzles, really.

Also, _The Ascot_ is very short, and took very little engineering ability to do.  So, if I were rating the games, I really wouldn’t feel right about rating _The Ascot_ at, say, a 6 or a 7, on its own merits, when vastly more complex, longer, and more interesting works I was rating lower for their flaws.  And I wouldn’t want _The Ascot_ to beat out a game like _Grounded In Space_, which I didn’t too much enjoy and which I ultimately consider to be a flawed game, but which is nevertheless a substantial entry.

On the other hand, I guess I’m glad I played _Ascot_ — as I say, I was entertained, which might be the bottom line — and I want to be open to experimentations around the form — but, c’mon, a yes/no CYOA?  Even a yes/no CYOA with a Terrible Eagle Beast is *still* a yes/no CYOA.

(There’s kind of an attempt to make the y/n form integral to the narrative; but it doesn’t go past silly meta-commentary.)

Maybe I’d create a new scale, 1-5 for CYOAs, and max _The Ascot_ out at 5.  _Trap Cave_ would be somewhere around 3, more for the engine than the writing, which was mostly in a language I don’t know.

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Published in: on October 28, 2009 at 9:02 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] Ascot review addendum My review of The Ascot doesn’t give the game all the credit it deserves.  There’s a way to truly win the game […]


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