IF Comp 2011: Cold Iron

Cold Iron is a very short atmospheric piece centering on folk superstition and a ramble through the woods. More details follow the jump.

“Cold Iron” explores the same space from two points of view, that of a superstitious farmer and that of a more scientific clergyman (though there’s some implication that the farmer may be a figment the clergyman’s imagination). It has a certain amount of atmospheric charm, and I encountered no bugs or significant implementation problems.

But there’s not really a lot of there there, ultimately. Both peasant and clergyman are pretty much ciphers, the conflicts they face very mild, the plot so slight as to verge on non-existence. It probably doesn’t help “Cold Iron” that I kept comparing it to The Warbler’s Nest, which also plays with differences of perspective between the superstitious and the scientifically-minded, but achieves a quiet, effective horror; and to A Change in the Weather, which presents a short-ish excursion in nature in a way that feels transformative for the main character. By comparison, “Cold Iron” doesn’t feel like it has that much of a point.

(Edited to add: Carl Muckenhoupt’s review speculates that there’s meant to be more going on here than we initially grasp. But he doesn’t know what that might be either.)

Still, “Cold Iron” is a tidily made little piece and bodes well for the author’s future projects.

5 thoughts on “IF Comp 2011: Cold Iron

  1. Pingback: IF Comp 2011: Overview | Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

  2. I feel like this one was a near-miss. If it were fleshed-out more (NOT necessarily longer), and the relationship between the farmer and clergyman clarified a bit more at the end, it’d be a solid piece, I think.

  3. I have the impression that the farmer exists only in the priest’s mind, and that that part of the story was a flash of inspiration or imagination or something that came to him (the priest) randomly when he touched the axe-head. Not magically or even logically, but just one of those random inspirations that happen out of the blue sometimes. And that inspiration or whatever it was helped him overcome a minor obstacle, representing the fact (I guess) that he had grown slightly as a character.

    (Possibly I am prejudiced by the fact that I tend to instantly assume an IF is occurring within a hallucination whenever anything strange and/or creepy happens. I already suspected this was being set up as some kind of dream– albeit somewhat less surreal than is typical for IF dream sequences– and so I felt my conclusion was “confirmed” after the viewpoint shift and I didn’t really feel confused.)

    As for what the whole thing is about, I guess that it’s okay to tolerate a bit of “wonder” and make-believe in life– that it’s okay for a staid, respectable intellectual to wear a holly crown and gallivant in the woods sometimes. Not that that’s any kind of earth-shattering insight, but there you go. I can’t say definitively what the author intended of course, but my interpretation works for me, and so I gave the game a pretty good rating.

    Even though this game was very short, I rated it higher than some of the sprawling, “epic-scale” yet ultimately (in my opinion) boring entries (e.g. Myothian Falcon). I would rather play a short, interesting game than a long, dull one any day.

    • I have the impression that the farmer exists only in the priest’s mind, and that that part of the story was a flash of inspiration or imagination or something that came to him (the priest) randomly when he touched the axe-head.

      Hm. That’s certainly possible, I suppose. But even if that’s the story, it feels a little bit… inconsequential, I suppose? Mostly because we have no context about the second character’s life, why it would matter for him to experience this inspiration, and so on.

      That said, I agree it did have a cool atmosphere going for it. I just felt like there was the potential to be a lot punchier.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

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