IFComp 2019 review: A Blue Like No Other

spoilers follow

A Blue Like No Other is a Twine game with what looks like an interesting setup. Your friend has sent you a copy of some 1980s English language learning software to try out. In addition to the retro style of the software, you also have access to a more modern-looking chat messenger interface in the bottom corner of the screen.

Language learning software as a vehicle for interactive storytelling is an idea I’m particularly excited about, and the chat message interface has so much potential for creating a layered narrative.

Unfortunately, there’s no interactivity of any kind with the language learning software, even though it looks like there should be, and you never get any new chats from the message interface. It’s a setup with enormous potential for interest that just doesn’t go anywhere.

The point of this game appears to be that the author of the language learning software put her novel into it as the sample text. The problem is that the novel is just not that exciting. A thief infiltrates a palace and falls in love with a princess; it feels like generic fantasy in content and style.

The game lacks interactivity, and I’m guessing that’s because of some problems with bugs. Each of the lessons or modules has a task (click these words in the sample text passage), but they don’t work. You can’t interact with the sample text at all, and as far as I can tell, the only way to switch to a new module is to open and close the messages. (Also, lessons 2 and 3 are identical for no apparent reason.)

Another review seems to indicate that the links worked for them and that there are parts of the game that I didn’t see. But I tried playing in five (!) different browsers and had no luck, so if there is more to the game, I don’t have any way to access it. Overall, A Blue Like No Other feels like an interesting concept with really disappointing execution.

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