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From the Database of Home of the Underdogs




Copyright 2003, Aaron Reed

Every annual IF competition has at least one game that fits the following description: a game with wonderful writing, immersive atmosphere, and fun puzzles – all overshadowed by flawed coding and some annoying bugs. Fine Tuned was such a game for the 8th Annual IF Competition, and this year sees Gourmet take that spot. The game casts you as an aspiring chef who has to prepare several delicious courses.

The writing is wonderful – the command “X ME” for example gives you the (always humorous) state of your character’s desparation, which gets worse and worse as the evening progresses. The puzzles are all logical, well-designed, and evoke some very memorable scenes – at one point in the game you will be wielding a mop against a menacing lobster that dangles from a ceiling fan. The game is very well structured, too: you concentrate on preparing one course at a time, and the courses gradually increase in difficulty.

Given a wonderful setting, unique premise, and strong writing and puzzles, it is unfortunate that Gourmet is marred by some annoying bugs and little problems that add up to hamper my enjoyment a little bit. So if you expect IF games to be perfectly coded without a typo in sight, wait until future releases of the game. But for anyone who has enough patience and tolerance for a charming game that may not get everything right, Gourmet will delight you from the first course to last. Two thumbs up!

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