Reviews by Andrew Schultz

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Your Death, in Four Acts, by Amanda Walker

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Double the poems in version 2, November 26, 2021
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: EctoComp 2021, post comp

The whole "writing an Emily Dickinson poem as IF/text adventure" thing has been done before--just completely differently. It was a (since withdrawn) entry in Ryan Veeder's competition for good Interactive Fiction, and it focused on Emily Dickinson's "There Is No Frigate Like a Book" as opposed to more death-related poems. I was sad to see Reverie go, and I'd be sad to see this entry ever disappear. While I knew of Frigate, I was maybe aware of only one of the poems in Four Acts.

There are no puzzles. In fact, pedestrian actions may push you through a bit quicker than you intended. You must basically roll with the poem's punches, and each poem is included in-game to reference as you wish--so, paradoxically, paying attention to the poems will help you look around at all the mystic entites around you before accessing the one that pushes things along.

Four Acts proceeds from your death to your funeral to a ride with death and immortality to, well, something not worth spoiling. I enjoyed trying to subvert the poem and its responses--for instance, doing the wrong thing with my inventory, or trying to hang with Immortality instead of Death. And I appreciate this sort of thing, as someone stuck feeling quite hopeless during the poetry parts of English classes, while better-informed people around me somehow knew what the poems were about but would probably let anyone they caught reading poetry that, well, that was a bit weird and impractical. I guess I like to be able to poke around and not worry if I'd missed anything.

The author was disappointed she couldn't fit in everything she wanted for EctoComp, and while I liked the original Your Death in Two Acts, the new bits make everything even nicer. Perhaps I'm the gullible sort who says "gee, okay, either way works great" when asked to just choose one, already. But here, I'll go in for the equally squishy "gee, more poems are better."

Most post-comp editions are worth playing to see what the author tweaked and maybe see a clearer way through, or they're an excellent exercise for the author to nail down things they didn't quite have time for. But Four Acts is a completely new offering, and I don't blame the author for wanting to share it as soon as EctoComp was over. If you enjoyed Two Acts during EctoComp, then I think you'll want to check this out. There's double the poems and some nice fixes to implementation.



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