IFComp 2010: The Chronicler

2010-10-22 00:00:00


This is my original comp review, preserved for historical purposes. Updated commentary may be available on my page for the game.

The Chronicler by John Evans is an interactive fiction game entered in the 2010 interactive fiction competition. You've been sent to investigate a research colony that's lost contact with the rest of humanity. What has happened to them?

(This post contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.)

The central mechanic of the game is traveling between two time periods--changes in the past affect the future, and you can move some objects between time periods as well. I like games with time travel (for example, I think Day of the Tentacle is excellent) and the use of time travel in The Chronicler was pretty good, though simple--the idea of bringing a future object to the past so you have two copies is a little too obvious to make a good puzzle, I think.

However, The Chronicler is an incomplete game, and it shows. The implementation is very shallow--few scenery objects are implemented, and there's a severe lack of synonyms. Too, the behavior of the device that transports you between time periods isn't entirely consistent--it takes you to different rooms depending on where you use it, but it wasn't apparent where the boundaries were, so I got stuck since I didn't think to use it in the hallway, assuming it would take me to the Transfer Room. Finally, there's no satisfying ending. I stumbled across both endings quite by accident, but they leave everything unresolved.

I like the idea behind The Chronicler, and I hope to see a finished version of this some time. If it were more deeply implemented and had a more satisfying ending (and a little better testing--I did discover a bug while playing), it would be a fun piece of short IF. The current version has potential, but that's not quite enough. 5/10.