Life in the Dorms

After fumbling around with what might be the worst point-and-click interface I’ve ever encountered, my patience was stretched to the limit during one sequence in Life in the Dorms.  While on a scavenger hunt, I accidentally clicked one of the beds in my room.  What followed was an interaction system so comically awful that I was convinced that I had broken the game.  Upon clicking the bed, the dude you control (named Dack, poor kid) walked over to the door.  Then back in front of the bed.  Then back to the door.  Then back to the bed.  Then the door.  Bed.  Door.  Bed.  Door.  Bed.  I couldn’t stop it.  Door.  Bed.  Door.  Bed.  Door.  Bed.  No interrupt button.  Door.  Bed.  Door.  Bed.  Door.  Bed.  Door.  Bed.  WHY IS IT DOING THIS?  Door.  Bed.  Door.  Bed.  Door.  Bed.  A minute straight of walking back and forth.  Door.  Bed.  Door.  Bed.

Finally, Dack sat down on the bed, and sputtered out a one-liner bitching about how hard the mattress was.  I turned to my boyfriend and said,

“Brian?”

“Yes, sweetie?”

“Please turn off my Xbox before I murder it.”

Despite the clunky interface, the puzzles of Life in the Dorms seem about as logical as your average point-and-click game.  Such as "Use lightsaber to get toilet paper down from shelf."

Despite the clunky interface, the puzzles of Life in the Dorms seem about as logical as your average point-and-click game. Such as “Use lightsaber to get toilet paper down from shelf.”

I’m sure the above CPU brain fart was due to a criminally horrible design choice that required the lead character to physically touch every object you point-and-click on.  Though for the life of me, I can’t bring myself to the mindset where anyone could believe this was a good idea.  Point-and-clickers are slow enough without having to watch your character lock into the appropriate place.  The above example with the bed actually happened, and it kept going because the character couldn’t properly line up in the spot that triggered the “sit down” animation.  That’s the only explanation I could come up with for why he staggered back and forth like a flash bang had gone off next to his face.  But it wasn’t the only time I had problems.

I didn’t make it out of the first chapter of Life in the Dorms before my patience wore thin.  I wouldn’t have even bothered going as long as I did if the writing didn’t at least hold the promise of being good.  Unfortunately, the awful interface negates whatever potential the dialog had.  Like going through a box of DVDs.  Instead of being able to collect every DVD, the game plays out like this.

Step one: click on the box.  Make sure you click the eye, which means you want to look at the contents of the box.

Step two: wait for the camera to hover over the box.

Step three: select one of the DVDs in the box.

Step four: Slowly pull the DVD out of the box and put it in your inventory.

Step five: Click another DVD in the box.

Step six: Dack will address the camera directly saying how he better put one of the DVDs back.

Step seven: you watch Dack put the DVD back, then the camera pulls back, then zooms in again when Dack grabs the next DVD you selected and puts it in his inventory.  The length between steps five and seven is fucking atrocious.

It's even worse because the dude who addresses the camera (and occasionally has awkward hugs with various NPCs) has no expression on his face except "I will steal your immortal soul." Shit will haunt my nightmares.

It’s even worse because the dude who addresses the camera (and occasionally has awkward hugs with various NPCs) has no expression on his face except “I will steal your immortal soul.” Shit will haunt my nightmares.

This is one of the most clunky, cumbersome, awful interfaces I’ve ever seen.  It’s like Life in the Dorms is overdosing from that slow-motion drug from Dredd.  I just want to move the plot forward with as little resistance as possible.  Yet every rinky dinky action requires Dack to turn and face the camera to address the situation, in what I can only guess is an attempt to break down the fourth wall.  I’m actually embarrassed that I gave up on a game this quickly, even though I was an hour in and had made almost no progress.  The only thing I could think about was “this is a point-and-click game.  Those typically require lots of insane logical-leaps and guesswork.  That means I’ll be seeing a whole lot of wrong guesses where the punishment is more slow movement from Dack as he turns to address the camera.  Fuck that.”  I think what happened is the developers forgot they had made a story driven game.  Imagine if the only way you could watch a DVD was to fumble with the controller and push a random sequence of buttons, then wait for the next portion of the movie to slowly load up.  So slowly that you see five minutes worth of story over the course of your first hour in.  Nobody would find it unreasonable if you just moved on to something else.  With that in mind, I’ll move onto something more exciting.  Like sleeping.

xboxboxartLife in the Dorms was developed by Moment Games

80 Microsoft Points said “wouldn’t chain-locking the only exit to the door be considered a major safety hazard?” in the making of this review.

Advertisements

About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

One Response to Life in the Dorms

  1. argamae says:

    I actually like Life in the Dorms. Yes, it’s fucking slow. But the quirky humor somehow worked for me. Played it’s predecessor Office Disorders and had fun with it, too. Yeah, maybe I’m a bit of a masochist. But really, both games aren’t half bad.

What do you think?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: