“Ocean Beach” is a parser-based game that attempts to recreate the experience of lazily wandering around a boardwalk and surrounding areas. The idea is compelling, but the glacial pace of the game and its intensely frustrating passages of delayed text make the game a chore to play.

Gameplay: The protagonist of the game wanders around the beach, taking in the scenery and having quick scenes with passers-by. As the ostensible walkthrough states, the puzzles are immaterial; the point is to enjoy the environment. Unfortunately, that environment is intensely frustrating to explore. There are long passages of delayed text in the game the player is forced to sit through, including a particularly egregious one that beginning (which even opens with “(pauses are part of the game)”). An interactive fiction game is fundamentally different from a medium such as film. Long stretches in which the player can’t do anything besides stare at text he or she has already read don’t build up any emotion or set any tone; they just waste the player’s time. I stopped playing when a cutscene involved waiting for several minutes while lines like, “I like sunset best,” or “I don’t know,” appeared after five- or ten-second delays. When I found myself pulling up another interactive fiction game in the background to kill time waiting for the scene to finish, I gave up and quit. 1/10.

Mechanics: The game discourages interacting with its setting, dismissing attempts to do so with, “You don’t want to.” There are actually things the player can do, but the implementation is sparse, and the descriptions offered are uninteresting. 3/10.

Presentation: There are numerous spacing errors in the game (e.g., “A group of people kicking a soccer ball[line break]drifts by.”). While there are embellishments to the environment (e.g., the random encounters along the boardwalk), they’re loosely sketched out. Later sections of the game may have a stronger setting, but the game was too frustrating for me to continue playing. 2/10.

You might be interested in this game if: The setting reminds you of an idle walk along a beach you’ve had in real life.

Score: 2

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