Broken Legs


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Rating: 4.5/5 (24 votes)
| Comments (17) | Views (116)

DoraBroken LegsLottie's got a problem. The night of her big audition at Bridger Conservatory, the culmination of seventeen years' hard work and cutthroat tactics, her voice gives out on her. But rather than comfort herself the good old fashioned way with a bucket of ice cream and a three-way phone call to her Best Friends Forever, Lottie has another plan. She's not ready to give up, you see. And in this darkly funny piece of interactive fiction from Sarah Morayati, it's not whether you win or lose... because losing isn't an option. Broken Legs is a catty, clever little adventure whose writing elevates it above its technical difficulties.

If you've never played a piece of interactive fiction before, Broken Legs might be slightly overwhelming because there's very little handholding. Useful commands include "examine", "ask/talk to (person's name) about", "inventory", and, perhaps most importantly, "call mom". Typing "save" will let you save your game, something you may want to do often. As Lottie will proudly inform you, she only thinks in compass directions now, so you'll need to "go north" rather than "up". This is actually a little frustrating, since there doesn't appear to be any way to make Lottie repeat the available exits in a room after she enters, and trying out every available direction is tedious.

You're not looking to find a way to fix Lottie's voice or convince the judges to give her a second chance. You'll need to think outside the box to find ways of ruining the other auditions, or turning the others against each other. Yes, it's mean, and you probably wouldn't want Lottie babysitting for you or acting as any sort of role model. But Lottie's teenage cattiness is so over-the-top exaggerated (at least, one would hope) that it's impossible to take her as anything other than satire, and the scant profanity that pops up now and again means this one isn't for the kiddies anyway.

Analysis: There's a good chance you knew someone like Lottie when you were growing up. And if you can't think of anyone who fits the bill, there's an even better chance that it's because there's a little Lottie in you. She's not a bad person, exactly; just more than a little self-absorbed. Still, I doubt she'd be half so reluctantly likable if not for the writing of Sarah Morayati, whose snappy dialogue and snarky prose skewers the teenage stereotype. You're probably going to enjoy Broken Legs the most if you were ever once a teenage girl. (Or if you've ever played one in a Lindsay Lohan movie.) I remember that time, and I miss it, because then? I knew everything. And so did everyone I hung out with.

There are times when I almost felt like Broken Legs would have been a better novel than a game. The writing might be top notch, but the puzzle design is, unfortunately, not. A lot of it is based upon knowing who to talk to (and what to say to them) at the right time, and you can quite easily miss your chance . You'll probably come to rely heavily on calling Lottie's mom for hints (and sometimes flat-out directions), but should you have to? Part of the fun of interactive fiction is figuring out what to do with the situations presented, and unfortunately quite a few of the puzzles in Broken Legs are unintuitive.

But is Broken Legs worth a look? If you find the bratty antics of a selfish teenage girl offensive, you may want to give it a miss. But for those of us who are fans of mean humour, or can just take it in the satirical spirit, you'll probably enjoy it for the exceptional writing. Players looking for high action and adventure will be disappointed, but Broken Legs is a clever story with a protagonist you just may love to hate.

Download Broken Legs (Mac/Windows/Linux, 1MB, free)

Note: In order to play Broken Legs, you'll need to download an interpreter for your operating system. Try Gargoyle for Windows, or Zoom for Macintosh and Unix.

If you like Broken Legs, take a look at other Interactive Fiction we have reviewed here at JIG!

17 Comments

At first I thought I wasn't going to like this game, but I have to agree that the writing is excellent. I also agree that it's difficult to get anything accomplished.

I found the memo and successfully screwed up one girl's audition.

However, this set in motion a dizzying series of events for which I was ill-prepared. Time to replay a couple times.

All in all I am enjoying this game, but it's quite rough around the edges as far as IF game design goes.

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I haven't played this particular game, but it's SOP in IF to have a verbose mode. Inputting "verbose" sets the game to repeat the room description every time you enter one, including directions. The opposite would be "brief".

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I would play it if I even knew what a .gblorb file was

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@ Gabe:

As the last paragraph of the review mentions, you need to use a special program to read the files. There are some links to these programs in the review, just download the one that matches your system and you're ready to go.

About the game, I haven't gotten far yet, but the writing is, like, really well done!

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I really needed the built-in walkthrough to finish this because of all the aforementioned difficulties ... but the ending was excellent! Kudos to the writer. Be sure to choose the "amusing" option upon completing it!

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If you liked this one, I can also recommend Adam Cadre's Varicella.

The king has died and now all the members of his court are scheming to become the prince's regent. You play as Primo Varicella, ideally the most cunning and devious of all: like Lottie Plum of Broken Legs, your mission is to eliminate your competition by any and all means necessary. And just like Broken Legs, there's an incredibly devious twist at the very end...to be honest, while I think Varicella is the better game overall, I think Broken Legs had the better twist.

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Typing "look" or "l" will give you a big chunk of the original description you got when you entered the room; if that description included the room descriptions, so will this one. Unfortunately, some rooms, like the practice room I just tried, don't have the exits listed. In that case you'll have to remember how you got back in, scroll back up to the command you used to enter if your interpreter lets you do that, or do the trial-and-error thing. (I haven't got very far into the game so I don't know how often the exits aren't listed.)

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JakeIsGames Author Profile Page November 22, 2009 12:28 PM

Can JayIsGames post a link to an online version, via its online IF player?

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Broken Legs is a .gblorb file and therefore not compatible with our Flash-based interpreter. Sorry. Otherwise we would have included it with the links above.

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@JakeIsGames: There's a link to a java applet here: http://ifwiki.org/index.php?title=15th_Annual_Interactive_Fiction_Competition/Parchment

(It doesn't work for me, but I'm running Linux, and that's par for the course. Maybe it'll work just fine for someone on Windows or Mac.)

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Incidentally, I've never been able to get Zoom to compile on any of my Linux machines. I use Gargoyle, and it works great. Just a suggestion in case anyone else was having trouble.

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Mary is catty! I love the crazy twist at the end!

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(not-that-new) News:
This game won 2nd place on IF Comp 2009 =)
Can't wait to try it out.

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Try calling dad for amusement :D

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Kira Hall-Gresty Author Profile Page July 19, 2010 5:17 AM

love this game such a cool twist

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Is there any actual walkthrough for "Broken Legs" available online? If I there ever was IF I needed one for, this would be it.

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I have discovered that although typing HELP or HINT doesn't provide much assistance for one truly stuck, typing

WALKTHRU

allows the player access to an in-game walkthrough. If only I had known this last week...

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