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Encounter 2: The Study Group Reviews
Author: Christopher Cole
What does AIF stand for? Adult Interactive Fiction. If you likely to be offended by games with sexual content, you are advised not to open these files.
Reviewed by BBBen (Inside
Erin Volume 4 Number 9 - September 2008)
The second of the Encounter series is, like the others, a small-scale, real world fantasy situation. In this case a group of high school students - one guy and three hot girls - get together to do a school project. Once finished they have some drinks and start a game of truth or dare. A good old fashioned teenage fantasy.
A while back I wrote a mini-review for this game on the old AIF Community Portal, in which I gave it a 10/10. This should give you an idea of how highly I regard it in my personal list of AIF favourites, but for a newsletter review I should probably endeavour to be a little bit more objective.
This is a great example of one of those Chris Cole games that really has a convincing "fantastic day in a real life" feel to it. Sure, it's not something that's likely to happen, but I had enough promiscuous female friends in high school to believe the game - particularly if the PC goes to the right type of school and moves in the right social circles.
Enc2 does not have a whole lot of the standard, full-on, hardcore sex (it's mostly foreplay and build-up, though there is some release to be had if you work for it). Instead, the sex and puzzles are integrated together quite effectively as you try to make sure the girls are drunk enough to lose their inhibitions (as are you yourself), but not drunk enough to pass out. The game is actually a very nice example of a game that does not have or need a traditional SSS (a sex scene with all the usual rub/lick/fuck interactive commands).
For the sake of balance, however, I should mention that this gameplay mechanic can be a little annoying. You discover how many drinks you need to give each girl through trial and error and very carefully plying them with alcohol and helping them get aroused each time they don't seem willing to do something. It requires 'undoing' or saving and loading to feel your way through the whole game (or restarting altogether, since it's a short game), and Cole adds, as is his wont, a few red herrings. In this case there are a few sexual 'dares' that you can try to convince the girls to do that they will not do no matter how much booze they drink and no matter how horny they get, and this could be frustrating for players that expect AIF games to be a bit more forthcoming with the sex (though I personally found that the system simply increased the game's tension, which was a positive in my book).
The other thing worth mentioning here is that the game, while not totally linear, does have a reasonable amount of hand-holding in terms of getting the right commands. This is forgivable because the gameplay challenge is more about the balancing of alcohol and arousal, but I should point out that this game does not contain traditional puzzles, secrets, etc.
This subject largely crosses over with the "puzzles/gameplay" heading, but I will mention that Chris Cole knows how to write a sex scene, and this game is no exception. The descriptions are detailed, the sexual tension is extremely hot, and this is one of those games that doesn't need to get ultra-dirty to turn you on.
The 1.3 release that is current (and most likely final) is technically clean, and I found no bugs. The game is slightly ambitious for its size, in that it attempts features that are not totally standard for ADRIFT.
This is a character-oriented game, and the characters are very enjoyable. Cara is probably the one that stands out the most of all (though others may disagree), and she returned by popular demand in Chris Cole's later collaboration with A. Bomire: Pool Party. There are conversation options in addition to the 'truth' challenges that help you get to know the characters
quite well for such a compact game (it's not a tiny game, but there is only one room, after all).
This is an innovative and hot game that is believable, original and yet classic in its style all at the same time. It's one of my personal favourites, and one of the reasons I got into writing AIF myself. If you haven't played Encounter 2 then download it and play it now. This is compulsory playing for AIF fans.
Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.
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