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You Are a Zombie Yelp Reviewer
Today’s Quest: Join the ambling hoard of online reviewers. Then we’ll debate a candy rivalry in Table Talk and explore the world of competitive interactive fiction. Tally ho!
First time here? Adventure Snack is a game series I email to subscribers. Play quests for free, twice a month, and turn your inbox into an adventure!
You are a zombie with a belly full of brains. Well, technically speaking, your leaky stomach and ripped open belly allow those brains to slowly trickle down onto your legs. But you got a solid taste of the brains of the man who was waiting at the bus stop to outrun the zombie apocalypse. His dead, bloody corpse lies limp on your shoes. You'd kick him off, but your focus is more on brain-eating these days.
After standing in a pile of bloody entrails for ten minutes, your undead mind remembers what you used to do after eating a meal. You fish out your phone and open the Yelp app. With excruciating pain and slowness, you tap out your review.
What is your review's title and rating?
When your quest is complete, it’s time to debrief. Join your fellow adventurers at the virtual D&D table we call the comments section. Participating gives you a +1 modifier to your Intelligence and a +6 modifier to your Constitution.
Discuss one (or all) of today’s topics in the comments:
🧠 Did you enjoy your cerebellum supper?
🍫 Which is the tastier chocolate treat: Snickers or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?
🎃 Are you decorating for Halloween this year? If so, what are you putting up? Bonus points if it’s the giant 12 foot skeleton from Home Depot.
👻 What’s your favorite scary movie you’ve watched this year? My partner and I are watching 1980’s horror b-movies this month. Neither of us are big horror fans per se, but we like “bonkers” movies that surprise and delight with weird plot twists and stiff-as-a-board acting. We’ve seen a number of wild ones, but none left an impression quite like Evilspeak (1981), in which a boy uses his Apple II computer for satanic worship. More on Evilspeak in the comments.
THE BEST KEPT SECRET IN VIDEO GAMES
For nearly 30 years, interactive fiction writers have pitted their works against each other in the name of art, honor, and extreme puzzleness. The annual competition is called IFComp and even seasoned game developers I talk to have no idea it exists. Which makes it cooler, I think?!
IFComp predates the modern game jam movement by decades, and unlike most game jams, where teams form to develop a game based on a surprise theme, this competition focuses on solo IF writing and there are no limits on subject matter. IFComp is like a remix of NaNoWriMo and Ludin Dare, and it predates both.
This year, I entered IFComp for the first time! Use Your Psychic Powers at Applebee’s (UYPPA) is one of 71 games vying for the first place spot. The current version of UYPPA has significant changes from the closed beta I released a few months ago. The first public release is based on the feedback I got from you and your fellow adventurers. Give it a play and see for yourself!
I’ve played several IFComp games this year. The breadth of creativity and inventiveness on display is inspiring. I think Adventure Snack players will enjoy many of the games I played. These titles are all short, funny, and/or weird, and therefore worth checking out IMO.
To Persist/Exist/Endure, Press 1 by Anthony O – Navigate an utterly absurd phone tree in this game of existential dread. As someone who hates these kinds of phone systems and always screams “operator” to the machine over and over again, I found this game very relatable.
Esther’s by Brad and Alleson Buchanan – Sit down for a tiny, adorable brunch with mouse couple Janie and Harold in an IF game aimed at children. Esther’s is slyly written though, so I’m certain adults will get more than a few laughs playing this with their kids. The illustrations are bright and full of character.
Nose Bleed by Stanley W. Baxton – Struggle helplessly with a never-ending bloody nose in a game about social terror and interpersonal power dynamics. For those seeking a horror game that goes deeper than monsters and slashers this Halloween season, I found Nose Bleed highly affecting. *Grabs Kleenex*
Who Shot Gum E. Bear? by Damon L. Wakes– Sink your teeth into a candy-themed murder mystery where you’re the detective. I’m terrible at old school parser games that require players to enter certain keywords, but Gum E. Bear’s jokes and funny Roger Rabbit-like world-building won me over.
No One Else is Doing This by Lauren O'Donoghue – Canvas for a cause in this game about the struggles of an activist. No One Else is a bold, honest look at the hard work and heartbreaks required to make a difference. The game uses unique mechanics, like battling the urge to pee, to explore a unique setting for games.
You can be part of this year’s IFComp! Sign up to be a judge and the fate of the interactive fiction community will be in your hands. (Oh, the power!) All you have to do is sign up and rate at least 5 games. Check out the rules for more info.