Ah, human drama. The trials and tribulations of star-crossed lovers, the agonizing decisions made on the battlefield, the ...supreme annoyance of having some rotten kid try to steal your favorite toy?
Child's Play, a wonderful piece of interactive fiction created by Stephen Granade, brings us back to a simpler time, one when 'the Mom' took care of our every need and the ills of the world were no worse than a spilled glass of milk. You are an unnamed child, somewhere between baby and toddler (crawling: yes, walking: no), and today is playgroup day! This would normally be all well and good, except for one unfortunate fact: your nemesis, a little red-haired girl named Zoe, will be there. She's smart, she's determined, and she wants your favorite toy. Oh, but there is no way that you are going to let her get her grubby little hands on your treasure, is there?
And so unfolds the very entertaining yet surprisingly complex scenario of baby vs. baby. Granade does an excellent job imbuing an adult sort of awareness into the unique mindset of a young child; the protagonist is entirely self-aware (as well as savvy enough to realize that adults will be of no help whatsoever) but must contend with limited abilities (cannot talk, cannot walk, etc). So, instead of relying upon strength or sophistication, you as baby must watch the world around yourself, observe patterns of behavior and learn how to manipulate the other children and adults into doing your will. Surprisingly Machiavellian!
I love the game's childlike yet witty way with words, which also contains some truly awesome imagery (one favorite: "Zoe is sitting in a fog of grump on the floor"). The other child NPCs are remarkably well-integrated into the gameplay and display individual character and personality without saying a word; the parents are simply funny, and their interactions shine a bit of a light on the absurdity of adult behavior. Still, what stuck out to me most about the game is the steely determination of the protagonist and nemesis to gain control of the toy; no battle over land or riches was more single-mindedly fought. You'll need to muster all your adult intelligence to win this child's war!
Time to enter the fray:
Play Child's Play Rated yellow :o due to (mild) adult conversations going on in the background.
Cheers to Emily for the suggestion! =)
The links above point to JIG's internally developed Flash-based Z-Machine interpreter (thanks asterick!), with the story files hosted here with permission from the game's author. That means you can now play these games in your browser rather than having to download and run the game in a standalone interpreter.
If you would rather download the game, you may do so at the Interactive Fiction Database. If you choose to download the game, you will need an interpreter to read the z-file, just like most IF games: try Gargoyle for Windows, or Zoom or Splatterlight for Macintosh and Unix.
If you enjoyed "Child's Play," take a look at other Interactive Fiction we have reviewed here at JIG.