I'll just preface this shortly with the fact that I myself have not known any of the intfic people, along with any of the reviewers. My evaluation and commentary is only based on my opinion of LC through my own experiences, so I hope to stay free of bias.
I have been playtesting LC for a bit before it was submitted to ifcomp. As with many other projects I've participated in, I feel a sort of pride and awe in the magnificent scale of the game and my contributions to it, however little they may be. I've been, on and off, checking up on the ifcomp forums
and the ifdb page
to read up on how the people felt about this game in general.
I was a bit disappointed to find that it received relatively little attention, whereas some of the other objectively worse works were being promoted more. Whatever. As long as the people who did play through it enjoyed it, right? No. From what I've read, the reception was quite mixed (mixed being 1-2 generally positive, neutral, and negative reviews overall), which is quite a shame considering how good this game really is.
Since I've been summoned to report on these findings, I'll categorize the complaints into 3 general points, and offer my commentary on those:
Too punishing - not enough pleasance and too much unpleasance
I don't blame them too much for this one, as it was a point that bugged me when I first began to try out the game. Pleasance was scarce, while unpleasance seemed to pile on incessantly. However, as I played more, and talked to other playtesters and the author himself, I found that this wasn't as punishing as it initially seemed.
There are about 3 major ways of gaining pleasance -
- Successful encounters, which range from giving 1-2 to up to hundreds(rarely)
- Selling resources at shops and markets
- Renouncing possessions, recording secrets, answering questions
(Along with one of the merchant abilities that cost magic.) I think those that have reviewed the game have noticed only the first out of all three methods. None, or not many, have gotten to the point where the large one-time gain of pleasance is worth considering. On a similar note, there are ways to clear all the unpleasance and sprinkled in many locations in the world, some coming at a cost of pleasance and others through a successful elimination of a nightmare (completely cure all worry). Some that occur right before you wake up clears most of the unpleasance categories in one fell swoop. I saw a lot of complaints about worry, the most plentiful and the least “worrying” of all forms of unpleasance.
Again, I only partially blame them for not continuing on, because of this one rule of ifcomp: “Judges must base their judgment of each game on at most the first two hours of play. If a judge is still playing a game at the end of a cumulative two hours of playing time and wishes to continue playing it, the judge must rate the game and not change that rating later before continuing play.”
They’re limited to at most 2 hours of play, which basically means that the depth of the gameplay of LC is barely felt, and most of that time is spent floundering around and barely surviving.
Parser issues/game bugs getting in the way
This one is the most understandable, I feel. Adrift itself is quite a mess and pretty unwieldy at times. Game bugs being in the way of immersion is probably the most valid complaint: LC is a massive game, not to mention that it is procedurally generated, and even though playtesters have caught a good number of bugs, there are probably more out there that, by chance, we haven’t gotten to.
Stylistic complaints, no overarching story
I think this is where it gets a bit subjective. Some guy (again, I don’t know anyone) was talking about how the story itself is lackluster, how there’s no main plot that the reader has to go to, yadda yadda. I won’t go on with the defense, but the game itself is set in a dreamland, where the main character spends their time from destination to destination. Some encounters provide bite sized parts of stories and lore, and others can provide short term missions/storylines. It is, admittedly, detached and wild at times, but I feel like it fits the dreamy setting of the game. (Also, this is specifically an open world game, pfft.) All from my perspective, though.
Anyhow, that’s about an overview of what I’m seeing. You can definitely find some reviews pretty easily. If you haven’t voted yet, do so quickly. Voting ends November 15th (within 36 hours from the time this was posted).