IFComp 2010: Death Off the Cuff

Taurus 85T Revolver vs. Kel-Tec P3AT Pistol

“Death Off the Cuff” by Simon Christiansen

There’s no blurb, so I have no idea what to expect from this work. Beware of the spoilers…

Right off the bat, I love the premise of this game. A renowned detective has been unable to solve his case, so as he stands before the suspects to accuse the murderer he must talk the truth out of his audience.

The whole set-up works very well for IF. The search space is limited to visible objects in one room. Very few commands are used. Most of the game is spent examining objects and talking about them. The special command “slap” is used once, and it’s a perfect accent in the middle of the game. The unusual premise allows the author to give the player character a lot of dialogue, and this dialogue is essentially the whole of the game. It’s different, and it works wonderfully.

I did use the hints pretty extensively. I’m not sure I would have guessed to look at Jonathan’s hands, and in some cases the changes in the environment weren’t obvious enough to me. I would say that this contributed to the sense of casting about for ways to stall and scare the truth out of my suspects, but I found that impression wavering when classic stalling tactics like “cough,” “stroke moustache,” and “remove bowler” didn’t work. On the other hand, the hints are excellent, and slowly guide you toward the next step in solving the case.

Like many good detective stories, every suspect has a secret, and none of the suspects is the murderer. It’s serendipitous that the real killer decided to show up at this interrogation, instead of leaving you and Scotland Yard to arrest an innocent person. This is the least plausible part of the story. Though the tone of the whole thing is a bit silly (there’s a dose of Inspector Clouseau in the main character) good mysteries require their characters to behave, if not rationally, then at least according to human nature. But this is a minor plot gripe in a very good game.

Verdict: A+


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