While there have been a number of limited parser games in previous competitions, “Dull Grey” is the first game I’ve seen with a limited choice system. The player has the same two options, presented as two possible careers for the protagonist, at each decision point in the game. The context of those choices and their ramifications vary, and they ultimately decide the fate of the main character.
Gameplay: The player proceeds through vignettes in the narrator’s early life, pushing him towards one of two future careers at each point. Although the options remain constant throughout the game, the scenes emphasize different aspects of those careers, and the choices the player makes therefore prioritize different goals of the protagonist. Despite the repetitiveness of only having two choices available, the scenes are dissimilar enough and the writing strong enough to prevent the game from feeling like it’s on rails. 7/10.
Mechanics: The game’s central idea of a single recurring choice is clever, and the writing in the game is strong enough to sustain. It’s a simple game, but it’s effective. 6/10.
Presentation: Like last year’s entry from Provodnik games, “Dull Grey” also has attractive art and a clean layout, despite its very different art style. The setting is a science-fiction or post-apocalyptic future in which machines and computers maintain the environment, and the short vignettes present just enough to explain the setting while keeping it alien and mysterious. 7/10.
You might be interested in this game if: You liked last year’s “Railways of Love.”