If Comp: Gigantomania

Author: Michelle Tirto
System: Glulx
Blurb: Living under the Stalin era, in four parts.
Time Played: 1 hour

More (with spoilers) after the break, you may wish to play before reading...

Review: A depressing little game about communism. Doesn't that make you want to rush out and play it?

The four parts have you playing different characters: in the fields, in a factory, in an office, and finally as Stalin himself. The first parts had me despite the darkness of the piece. Little touches from part to part fleshed out the differences from character to character. In the second part, I appreciated the way the game prompted me to refer to people as Comrade So-and-So. While I found solutions to get through the sections, I felt like I wanted to replay and try to make things different/better. But starting with the conversation/interrogation in the third part, the game started to lose me. I had no idea what options to pick, and some of them seemed absolutely ridiculous to me.

Everything really fell apart in the fourth section, however. My choices seemed really random most of the time and occasionally consisted of just typing 1 or 2 without even being sure why I was doing so. The crazy bracketed symbols were very distracting, too. I got all the way to a Checkmate ending before I guessed that the weird numbers were chess moves. But by then I was totally done with the game. What was the point? Life under Stalin was bad? Stalin was crazy? I like the idea of seeing this more in the individual lives and in characters who are perhaps believing in the system despite how miserable they are. But in a Comp where I've felt dissatisfied with several endings already, this one was the worst so far.

If I rated it just on the opening sections, I would probably rate it higher, but the wacky fourth section and the overall heavy-handed gloominess really put me off in the end.

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