IF Comp ’09 Review: Gleaming the Verb

So, next up: Gleaming the Verb, by Kevin Jackson-Mead.

As always, the disclaimer about reviews (and now the list of this year’s reviews so far) is here.

Spoiler-free summary: A well-formed but extremely small puzzle.

Spoilers after the picture of a cop cruiser driving out of Christian Slater’s ear, and Christian not being sure what to think about this.


I never saw this movie; I hope that won’t make it harder to enjoy the game. Oh wait! It’s Gleaming the Verb, not Gleaming the Cube. So I should be fine. Except that the room I started out in is described as a cube, and there’s another cube in the middle of that room, and a mysterious voice has instructed me to “READ the CUBE”.

Here’s my prediction: The main puzzle is a guess-the-verb, and the magic verb in question is “cube”. Verb. Cube. See?

All right, here we go…

> xyzzy
That’s not a verb I recognize.


> x me
You are completely naked. Good thing it’s pleasantly warm in here.

Yay, a little.

> i
You are carrying nothing.

Where’s my skateboard? :(

> titrate cube
The cube shakes and rattles, and the synthesized voice says:

What? That was correct? I didn’t even know that was a word; I was just dicking around and thought it was funny. I was all making a joke in my head about asking a stripper what her titrate is. What the hell does ‘titrate’ mean, anyway?

“To ascertain the quantity of a given constituent by adding a liquid reagent of known strength and measuring the volume necessary to convert the constituent to another form.”

Err… I don’t think you can do that to a ten-foot metal cube. Certainly not without any sort of chemistry equipment, or even a lab coat.

Anyway, my initial prediction has proven to be incorrect: this is a series of guess-the-verb puzzles* where the cube is the object that you are verbing. Still, I wasn’t all that far off.

Yay, I won.

Well, that was quick. I didn’t see any problems (except for the questionable use of the verb ‘titrate’) and it basically accomplished what it set out to do, which was to offer a brief series of simple puzzles (and seriously, they’re not hard at all — if you get the first one, you’ll get the rest of them). I guess I can’t hold lack of story or anything against it really, because that doesn’t seem to have been the purpose of it. But more (and a wider variety of) puzzles would have been appreciated.

*Well, in the sense that you’re given a clue and have to derive a word from that clue, and then use that word as a verb. Not in the usual sense of “Oh you motherfucker were you huffing spraypaint when you coded this?” I’m not going to name names, but I’m thinking of a word, and that word is ‘unbite’.

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