Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

IFComp 2012: Murphy’s Law

Posted by Tracy Poff on November 7, 2012

Murphy’s Law by Scott Hammack is an entry in the 2012 ifcomp. The player character has one last payment to make on his mortgage, but things keep going wrong.

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

As soon as I saw the title, I had a good idea what to expect, and the game didn’t let me down. You spend Murphy’s Law trying to send in your final mortgage payment, but problems keep cropping up that you have to deal with first. You get a papercut and have to bandage it, then you have to get a stamp, then your mailbox is destroyed so you have to drive to the bank to make the payment, but your car won’t start… and so forth.

On my first playthrough, I actually bled to death from my papercut before I managed to get the bandage on. That amused me, and I hoped that the rest of the game would be similarly over the top. Unfortunately, this hope was not realized. If I had to describe Murphy’s Law in a word, that word would be tedious. You must complete every boring step of every boring thing in order to complete the game. For example, when your car won’t start, you must use an emergency jump start kit to start it. To do this, you must pull hood lever and pull trunk lever, open trunk, get kit, open hood, put red cable on positive terminal, put black cable on negative terminal, and finally start car. Of course, you also have to remove kit and close hood before you can go anywhere. That’s just way too much work.

I suppose that the tedium was probably intentional. It shows that you have to go through so much, just to make a simple payment. But it was boring. There wasn’t nearly enough humor to make up for it. The game could have been much better, had it been funnier, or if it hadn’t insisted on making the player actually go through with all of the minute details, but, alas, it was not to be.

The game mostly worked as expected, but I did experience a bug when trying to start the car:

>start car
You’ll need to get inside first.

>enter car
But you’re already in your station wagon.

I got it to work, eventually, though.

This one gets only 2/10. I might have given it another point, because of the general competence of the implementation, but I only gave Escape From Summerland 3/10, and I liked it much better than this. Being boring is a bigger sin than being buggy, I fear.

Play time: 20 minutes for two playthroughs.

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