Review of "Matt's House"

Matt's House is an ADRIFT 4 interactive fiction game and is © 2001 by Matt Mancini.

Review by David Welbourn (originally posted at IFDB)

What's worse: having nothing to say or not knowing how to say it? I start up the game and see only a title. The almost blank screen is an omen of things not to come.

Matt's House is very much like Aunt Nancy's House. There's no goal and there's nothing much to do except flit about and fiddle around with whatever fixtures and furnishings that the author could be bothered to implement. The closest thing to a puzzle is following up on what one finds in the mailbox.

There's a dreary monotony to this house. Almost every room description is a variation of the arthritic formula "This is the [room name]. There's [a list of things] here. The exits are [list of directions]." Apart from a "wow, look at all the appliances" comment in the kitchen, the rooms have no personality at all.

NPCs fare even worse. Forget about conversation, can we get a better description than "Your sister." for Rachel? She's, y'know, family. Presumably important to you. But is she older or younger than you? Is she pleasant or bratty? Is she into dolls or boys? The author probably knows, but we don't. We learn nothing at all about Rachel.

So that leaves stuff. Have fun changing channels on the TV, playing Nintendo, using the computer, playing CDs, and flushing the toilet, because that's the gameplay. Apparently, the value of a home can be determined by how many things it contains that use electricity. Somehow, I'm underwhelmed by the lukewarm expressions of excitement — "Wow, that was a great show/game/song." — that these activities provoke. If they were truly that great, you'd be able to tell me why they're great. Elaborate, please!

Okay. This was probably the author's first game. I assume he had no idea what to write about, so he just implemented his parents' house. So, fine. It's not going to be original or exciting or particularly special. I'm okay with that. But this is just so damn generic. It's not Matt's House. This is anybody's house. Gimme some passion, some memories, some stories about the place. Show me what's important to Matt. Let me see his home through his eyes. If the game was called Rachel's House, I should get a different experience, shouldn't I?

And please, let's not do Hallway2 or Kitchen2 in Ben's house next door. You don't need me to tell you that was wrong.

Rating: ⭐️

✍️🏻 See my handwritten notes.