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EndMaster

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Paradise Violated, by Endmaster

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Paradise Violated, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: EndMaster

General Recommendation: This is definitely one of EndMaster’s most underrated games. I strongly recommend it, particularly for those looking for a more traditionally branching cave-of-time experience.
Preview: As the captain of a unit in the human empire, how you react to the possibility of discovering ancient alien technology will affect your future, and possibly that of the entire galaxy.

=SPOILERS BELOW=

Plot & character notes:
-Salo and LaFleur are characterized quickly and effectively with their opening paragraphs. Their informational links certainly help, but we learn a lot about them just from their initial description, which is good economy of storytelling.
-I’m not a big fan of extra informational links, but I know that many people do prefer them, and this story certainly utilizes them well. It provides the necessary background information without going overboard, and the information is conveyed in an entertaining way.
-The selection of names for the various races is also excellent. Each name perfectly captures the intended nature of each race, particularly the Xont and Elojin.
-“Elojin are cowardly and run at the first sign of danger.” “You mean like now?” Lol.
-Trying to show that the narrator is steadily falling under alien influence is tough to do in a show-don’t-tell way (particularly in an interactive format where players don’t like being told how to feel) but EndMaster pulls if off in a way that feels natural. The “Feeling different” device seems built to help with this, but it doesn’t really work, the necessary information is already conveyed through the writing itself in a neater way.
-Ah, too bad the Elojin had to be killed. I like trying to play nice in these games, but in a work of this tone, allowing the Elojin to survive would only undermine the narrative. As it is, the inevitability of his death contributes to the building theme.
-Alyssa is well characterized, and stays consistent throughout the various branches. It’s interesting to see the different directions her character can go in depending on the narrator’s actions. Her presence as a genuinely likeable side character helps too, especially in a game like this where so many of the side characters are just untrustworthy, or obstacles, or both.
-I like the Gequek hologram, he’s a fun and intriguing character, and in the mechanical sense, a good interactive way to deliver the necessary plot exposition in an entertaining way.
-The idea of the loyalty-inducing germ weapon is also intriguing, and a good explanation for the Xont’s disappearance. Can’t imagine what could go wrong in designing a weapon that increases xenophobic tendencies. On an unrelated note, one could theorize that some mutated form of the virus is actually prevalent in the galaxy at large; all four major nations are xenophobic and expansionist, so an outbreak of Xont germ might explain this inclination.
-The game’s longest path has a surprisingly hopeful and optimistic ending, which makes the entire work feel a little more significant. In a world as bleak as the one presented here, the possibility of future improvement for the galaxy is quite unexpected and meaningful.
-This story does a perfect job balancing political intrigue with adventure. Obviously the planet itself serves the adventure factor; dealing with natives, rival conquerors, and exploring ancient ruins. Meanwhile, your team members, especially Indoctrinator Salo, serve as a microcosm for the political tensions throughout the empire. At the end of the main path, the broadening of the scope to larger political consequence feels both natural and expansive; it works well due to the political groundwork laid early in the story, and expands the scope of the story to a larger view.
-I like that the player is allowed to turn off the main path and end the story prematurely without immediately dying. This is a realistic outcome of the player’s actions. The wide variety of mundane endings that are neither victorious nor deadly makes the positive victory endings feel more special and earned. This is also true of the endings that mostly focus on your relationship with Alyssa, this story allows the narrator victory and failure on both a personal and galactic scale.
-The path where you shoot Alyssa fall further under Xont influence is handled equally well, and forms a nice narrative parrallel to the path in which you let her shoot Salo.
-The ending where you conquor the galaxy was handled well. Often endings like this either emphasize the positives of galactic rule too much, or try to scold the player for being bad. This one does neither; instead presenting the facts of the situation and the narrator’s new outlook, and allowing the player to decide for themselves how they feel about their choices.
-I like that we get to see what the Elojin do with Xont technology, it makes them a legitimate threat rather than just a plot device.
-The plot where you fall under the influence of Xont technology and try to “seize your destiny” shows the dangers of Xont influence, in contrast to other pathes, in which is is possibly to use Xont technology for positive ends.
-I found the open nature of the ending where the narrator says “Who’s with me?” compelling, despite ending abruptly, the story feels neatly finished and a natural narrative conclusion to the events told.
-Dealing with the Mazatt commander who has also fallen under Xont influence is an interesting turn, and it contrasts well with the narrator’s own arc. This arc ends predictably and fittingly. It reminded me a bit of apocalypse now (good movie). Actually, there’s a lot in this story that reminds me of apocalypse now. EDIT: Heh, after reading further, that line seems like it’s a direct reference to apocalypose now.
-It’s weirdly gratifying to see the ending where LaFleur gets his desk job. Poor guy just wanted to push paper in peace.
-The path with the Krik isn’t as fleshed out, but that makes sense, the main story here is about the Xont. Nevertheless, the mission with the Krik does a good job illustrating what a “typical” empire scouting assignment might be like.
-It’s nice that change can be made to the empire’s policies in a variety of ways, such as through Alyssa’s personal success.

Grammar & Mastery of Language
The grammar is fine. The technical aspects of the writing could be better, there are many misued words and grammatical issues that could be fixed with a single editing round. The repeat clauses especially jumped out.
This game’s conversational tone strikes a delicate balance of sympathizing with the reader while not coming on too strong, but after the first few pages, the game settles into a consistent voice that works well with the plot.
A oft-undervalued aspect of setting the tone of a setting comes down the writing style. This story does an excellent job in this respect. The narrator’s bitter, cautious, and disillusioned attitude towards his own life and empire frames the dangerous and frustrating nature of the challenges he will face on the planet itself.

Branching
Particularly good. Most of EndMaster’s games follow the format of having pivotal plot choices at key moments, interspersed with save-or-die choices. In this game, there’s a wide variety of different endings that can be achieved, even when the player strays from the main branch. This storygame has one of the best distributions of width and depth I’ve read. Though EndMaster’s usual strategy allows his later games to dive much deeper into the arcs the story does follow, it’s nice to see this level of attention devoted to player agency and choice.

Player Options/fair choice
Pretty good. There are a few deaths that seem random, but for the most part, actions have logical consequences.

Nitpicks:
-The death link on the first page seems completely random and weird. It does make sense, given what we learn later of the other character’s movements, but it would be smoother just to cut out that pointless first choice and get on with the story.

Endings: This story has an unusually wide variety of endings that can be considered “official”. Games on this site usually tend to follow a couple specific pathes, so it’s nice every now and then to run into a game like this with a broader approach.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I played this game first a few years ago, before I had an account. After dying a few times, I got the ending where you use the hologram to change the empire’s policies.

CONCLUSION: An excellent game!


Alpha Wolf, by Endmaster

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Alpha Wolf, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: EndMaster

General Recommendation: I recommend this game, particularly to those looking for a well-branching narrative, those fond of traditional monster movies, and anyone looking for a fun and varied game.
Preview: Can you, a semi-washed up werewolf, reclaim your former glory days and make an impact on this world popultaed with characters from monster movies?

=SPOILERS BELOW=

General notes:
The idea of a world where monsters from horror B-movies live alongside humans is a truly unique concept that I’ve never seen done anywhere else. It’s a fresh idea with lots of possibility, and the wide variety of branches in this story explores it in a full and satisfying way, without ever letting the concept overstay its welcome. It’s not easy to put werewolves, mad scientists, and martians all in the same world and still have it feel natural, but all the elements of this story feel like they really could exist alongside each other.
Wolf’s pride in his own, and his struggles with his changing role in a new world are struggles many people can relate to. This parallel makes the character three dimensional and relatable, while not hitting the reader over the head with it.
Once again, EndMaster does an excellent job writing a character with an antisocial nature and aggression issues to be genuinely likeable, without falling into any of the common edgy pitfalls many similar characters do. Wolf is an excellent character, and the perfect choice to narrate this story. His done-with-everything attitude only makes the story’s campy aspects more fun and amusing.
The campy concept of movie monsters works well with the episodic tone of the story’s different plots. Each of the plots is its own little snapshot of Wolf’s life, allowing a glimpse into the colorful variety of characters and monsters you can encounter.
Despite each of the individual characters not having much screen time, each of them brings something new and interesting to the story, and it’s fun to see the variety of different inspirations for the characters in this story. A few highlights are the creature from the black lagoon, a typical long-winded posturing alien invader (I know he actually looks like bigfoot, but I kept visualizing him as the alien from looney tunes), an assortment of mad scientists (from Invisible to Fly), THEM!, killer plants.
I’d be quite curious to know the inspiration for this story, as it is a genuinely original concept.

Specific notes:
-The opening paragraph does an excellent job of characterizing the narrator with “You also realize it’s still daylight. You hate waking up early.”
-As always, I’m not a big fan of extra information links. I do think they’re important in this story though, as without them it would be tough for the player to get a feel of this unfamiliar world and its characters. As usual, the pace of EndMaster’s writing style helps these links be genuinely entertaining rather than just info dumps to slog through.
-Selecting a werewolf to tell this story through is a good choice. Many movie monsters are too specific or strange to be familiar to the average reader, but everyone is familiar with the concept behind werewolves.
-I’m usually annoyed by random murder schemes against the main character, but the tone of this work and characterizationo of Jekyll make it believable.
-I like that the government is taking advantage of the mad science in this world. Too often, alternate universes that have a concept like this (such as “real life superpowers” or “wizards”) will ignore the obvious real-world implications of its developments. Details like this make the world feel much fuller.
-The ending of the super serum plot is a nice “and the adventure continues” way of wrapping things up. I came, I saw, I kicked ass, I didn’t get paid. Life goes on.
-Henry tries to do the supervillain thing and explain why he did everything, and Wolf is having none of this shit.
-Though the ending where you refuse Henry’s offer is obviously more mundane, it does a good job of showing what Wolf’s “typical” jobs are like.
-The martians being defeated by the common cold is both amusing, and scientifically accurate, especilly since Earth has a higher temperature and more biodiversity than Mars.
-Gil’s complaints about factories being built in his swamp is an excellent tone-setting detail, showing both reality of the world, and the frustration many of the old monsters are having with its changes.
-I like how Wolf and Godzilla are both fans of each other, the casual way in which they interact fits the nature of the story’s humor.
-Moreau’s “paradise” has obviously been on the tipping edge for a while. In the endings where you do talk the inhabitants into standing up for themselves, the island descends into violence soon afterwards.
-Lol, Andre can’t get ANY free sugar packets? He’s clearly just not trying hard enough.
-It’s interesting that many of the monsters (like Kong) have gotten used to human comforts. It just shows how much the world has changed for them.
-It’s amusing that Wolf’s main beef with the body snatchers is how boring they are. UPDATE: Curses! Defeated by the history of cabinet making!
-It would have been interesting to see the storyline with the killer plants developed a little more, they’re certainly a staple of the genre and lend themselves to a wide variety of plots.
-After the (fun) chaos of the previous arcs, the plotline with Lawrence and Mary is a surprising and pleasant diversion. It’s nice that Wolf gets the chance to reconnect with his ex and his son, and meet some new family members he can be proud of.
-It’s both interesting and in character that Wolf remains satisfied as long has he gets pretty much any ending other than death. He’s attached to the “Alpha Wolf” image, and reassures himself that he’s still top dog no matter what, even in the pathes where he’s failed to assert himself.
-Interesting that Wolf hasn’t run into any of the wannabe werewolves, because there are PLENTY of them, and yes, Wolf would definitely hate them.
-Wolf’s random decision to go attack Vlad and/or Victor would seem weird in almost any other story, but given his personality and the tone, it works here.
-The path were Wolf takes the pack of actors for Mary’s movie under his wing to kick Victor’s ass is oddly amusing. It seems that on both this path and the one with his son, he winds up playing the mentor figure role regardless, despite his derision of the concept.
-I like the way the conflict between vampires and vampire hunters has adapted to the modern age, and I like the references to how the cinematic potrayal of vampires has changed a lot over time.

Grammar: All good!
Mastery of Language
Yeah, there’s a bunch of sentence structure issues, this could have used another proofread. It’s not enough to distract from the writing, but enough to be noticed. Some more commas would be nice.

Branching: This game has some of the best branching out there, even better than EndMaster’s other majorly branching work, paradise violated. The player gets to make lots of important decisions.
Obviously the broad nature of this story means the individual plots can’t be as deep or complex as the ones in EndMaster’s longer works. The story doesn’t suffer from this, however, rather it fits the work’s episodic tone.

Player Options/fair choice: Very good, there is generally a clear strategy available for each challenge.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:
I guess I never gave this game a complete playthrough the first time around, so finding all the new branches while doing this reveiw was a pleasant surprise.

CONCLUSION: A fun and particularly original game, with a unique brand of humor.


Imagination, by Endmaster

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Imagination, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: EndMaster

General Recommendation: I recommend this game, particularly for those looking for a nostalgic reminder of the kind of fantasy books you read when you were younger.
Preview: After being transported to a fantasy world by the evil Nightmare Tyrant, can you use your budding powers of imagination to make it safely home?

=SPOILERS BELOW=

General notes:
Too many authors of children’s stories think they can get away with one dimensional characters and little humor or dialogue of interest. EndMaster does not fall into this pitfall, making each side character their own distinct person, and making the writing enjoyable for kids and adults alike.
In many ways this story seems like it’s aimed less at children, and more at teens and adults recalling a specific aspect of their childhood. Certainly it works as a children’s story, but the work’s tone and elements heavily recall a specific genre of children’s fantasy books that older readers will be more likely to recognize than younger ones.
Many books of this genre focus on an imaginative protagonist pulled into a fantasy world, who uses their unique skills and traits to succeed and return home. In this story, the narrator’s powers of imagination are explicitly supernatural, providing both a driving force for the plot, and tying into the main theme of the power of imagination. The story does a good job with this theme. It uses it as a driving force for the plot rather than hitting the reader over the head with it, and the narrator’s deus ex machina abilities are allowed to cause as many problems as they solve. What’s more, as with many of the elements in this genre, the imagination-powered abilities act as a metaphor for the protagonist’s life in the real world, with the protagonist and nightmare tyrnt each respectively representing the positive and negative side of imagination.

Specific notes:
-The opening paragraph firmly establishes the main character as a child, particularly, the kind of kid who likes to make up stories. The scenario used to show this is one that’s probably relatable to a lot of readers, and has a humorous and familiar tone.
-The bad guys in this game are comically evil, complete with evil laughs and one-liners. In a more serious work they might be out of place, but here they fit well with the whimsical tone of the stories this work is trying to capture.
-The imagery in this story is particularly good, it’s an important aspect of the genre.
-Many children’s stories seem to have difficulty writing adults interacting with children. This one handles it well, however, all the characters react logically. The “wizard” sees potential cheap labor, and Lyssia and the Captain are balancing protecting the narrator from the Nightmare Tyrant with other priorities.
-The worldbuilding that exists here (such as the description of Null) seems neither barebones nor overwhelming. It’s presented in a neat way that intrigues without distracting.
-Many of the characters here are traditional fantasy archetypes. We have the wizard/charlatan, the captain, the adventurer, the talking animal. It would be easy for this method of cast-building to act as a shortcut for real development, but all of these characters are well-rounded, even those with only brief roles. The use of archetypical characters also contributes to the traditional and nostalgic feel of the story, by including many figures that frequent fantasy readers will recognize from childhood novels.
-The Null is a cool concept for a setting.
-Johnny’s presence illustrates well the consequences of capture by the nightmare tyrant. He also represents a metaphoric more realistic threat, the threat of parental neglect and apathy.
-“Was it a dream?” endings are usually groan-inducing, but as it’s a staple of the genre that inspired this work, it would be practically negligent not to include it.
-I like that the protagonist can defeat the shadows in a variety of different ways, depending on the path.
-I also like the inclusion of many common fantasy elements, such as talking animals, little people, and ghosts. Though for the most part these elements are not essential to the plot, they really make the setting feel like a traditional “fantasy” fantasy world, perfectly capturing the genre.
-The protagonists’s powers mirror the antagonist’s, which is always a nice narrative touch.
-Little scenes, like the conversations between Salzat and Lakri, are what really flesh this story’s world out.
-Once again, the worldbuilding that’s done in this story fits its scope very well. Qualan’s description of his homeland iis yet another frequent fantastic archetype.
-The idea of a halfling pretending to be a dwarf is amusing.
-It’s nice to see more of Melcaar in the second path, and to see him being legitimately helpful rather than merely taking advantage of an opportunity to get his garden cleaned.

Grammar:
-“Creativeness” should be “creativity”.
-There are some dialogue punctuation issues.
Mastery of Language
This story could’ve used another round of proofreading to tidy up the sentence structure issues. It doesn’t distract, though.

Branching:
Quite good, particularly on the branch where you try to scare away the purple people. There are multiple victory endings that can be achieved, and the player has control over the direction the story goes in. The Melcar branch is a bit more linear, but this makes sense in context.

Player Options/fair choice:
Overall quite good. The consequences of actions are fair and foreshadowed, which is particularly important for a story with a younger audience.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I got the ending where you make it home with the Adventurer’s help.

CONCLUSION: EndMaster has proved with this work that he’s capable of producing high-quality writing for any number of different authorial styles. A fun read.


Geek, by Endmaster

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Geek, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: EndMaster

General Recommendation: This game is recommended for those looking for a surreal and campy life-or-death political drama surrounding the factional tensions of a messed-up carnival.
Preview: A surreal and campy life-or-death political drama surrounding the factional tensions of a messed-up carnival.

=SPOILERS BELOW=

General notes:
I’m a fan of works that take small situations and dramatize them into life-or-death power struggles, and this game is a fine example of this trope done well. Its factional nature keeps the game full of genuine suspense and unease, while the inherent absurdity of battle for the fate of the circus keeps the mood light and entertaining. Choosing your alliances is fun, as is choosing the best way to achieve your goal once you know what it is.
It’s tough to make a game fun to play with such a pathetic main character. However, the Geek never indulges in self-pity, and has his own brand of cleverness when dealing with circus politics, becoming an unlikely catalyst in the carnival’s future. The player is forced to work to achieve their goals with limited resources, making the game’s choice of protagonist an asset rather than a hindrance.
The Geek’s lack of power is really a tool in this game, as the Ring Master realizes. As an unaligned character loathed equally by just about everyone, only you have the true power to determine the fate of the carnival. It’s an interesting take on the character archetype.

Specific notes:
-Yikes, that’s one heck of an info dump. I’m not fond of informational links in games, and this one starts off with a lot of them.
-Not a big fan of characters using more than one set of pronouns, it tends to make the writing choppy and confusing. That said, it’s less jarring here, since the Ringmaster is meant to be a choppy and confusing character. I still prefer “they” as a term for gender-neutral characters.
-“Prevus” the clown, lol. Subtle.
-After playing paradise violated, ground zero, and alpha wolf, where the narrator is surrounded by incompetence, it’s an interesting change to be playing an underdog surrounded by people who are stronger than he is, and being used by people who are smarter than he is, like the Ring Master. It requires a different style of play, and gives the game a unique feel compared to these other works.
-I find it amusing that Madam Orbec always seems to know what you want from her when you visit.
-This is a game that could very easily become overly campy or ridiculous, given the nature of the situation (particularly how easy it is to die at a carnival), but the writing style and the way in which the story is presented prevents the story from becoming too over-the-top.
-Successfully siding with Charlie still gets you killed if you doon’t have extra protection, as well it should. I like that choosing with whom you ally is just as important to this game’s outcome as how well you do it.
-The secret behind the pinheads is amusing and logical.
-Huh, Madame Orbec really IS magic.
-I like the way the occult is handled in this story. It’s never really explained or made explicit, and you only really learn things about it in the bad endings. Magic is used to cause problems in this story, not to solve them, and it fits well with the tone of the work.
-I like the Ring Master character. They seem like one of the few genuinely clever and reasonably well-meaning people at the carnival.
-This game is a nice dip into a strange world. Concepts and characters are explored lightly, in a way that intrigues without going into too much detail. I think the short scope of time covered by this game helps, the player is thrust into an unfamiliar situation and must orient themselves. The shortness of the game prevents the player from becoming really comfortable with the world, and keeps them on the edge of their seat, as intended.
-Like Alpha Wolf, the concept for this game is quite unique.

Grammar
All good!
Mastery of Language
There are a number of sentence structure issues, but overall it’s not bad in this one.

Branching
The first time I played this, I assumed variables were used, but I realize now that this is in EndMaster’s traditional cave of time style. There really are a lot of different ways this situation can play out, and the player has a lot of control over the game’s outcomes.

Player Options/fair choice
Though it’s very easy to die, it never feels random or undeserved.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:
On my first play through I got the ending where you convince the midgits to rebel against Charlie and unite under Salina. Probably the best ending, after reading through all of the others.

CONCLUSION: A surreal and entertaining game.


A Very Special Choose Your Story, by EndMaster

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A Very Special Choose Your Story, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: EndMaster

General Recommendation: If you can take a joke, then you should play this game. It’s a well-crafted story that does exactly what it set out to do, with a number of humorous moments.
Preview: Can you make good choices and survive high school unscathed? Hint: No.

=SPOILERS BELOW=

General notes:
I usually hate games that force the player against their will into poor choices and then try to waggle their finger at them, but I guess I can respect a game where self-righteous finger-waggling is the entire point. To those of you looking to make a game designed to forcibly teach the player a moral lesson, take warning: This game already takes the concept and does it in a better and neater way than it has any right to. You are unlikely to succeed in a similar task.
Part of this game’s success comes from the fact that it admits right up front that this is what it’s trying to do. Many of these other moralizing games try to “trick” the player into thinking the bad outcomes of their decisions were really their fault. This game is much more honest; it makes it clear to the player that you can’t win, you’re just along for the ride, so buckle up.
This story really does an excellent job of toeing the line between the absurd and the poignant. I’m constantly torn between feeling like “No, high school is nothing like that” and “Yes, that’s exactly what high school is like.” The absurdity allows the game it’s unique humor, but the humor in this story is very grounded in the real dilemmas reall high schoolers face, making you stop and think even through the surreal nature of the game.
Is this game actually successful at its purpoted goal of teaching wholesome life lessons? Well… kind of? Certainly the pitfalls the narrator can fall into do have less-extreme real-life parallels, and it is a fine example of what not to do as a high schooler. Perceptive high school readers will be able to look past the over-the-top nature of this game to appreciate the genuinely valuable advice it’s trying to offer.
The game certainly succeeds when it comes to entertainment value. There’s a sort of morbid fascination involved to finding out what exactly is going to kill you this time around. The fact that I genuinely enjoyed this game when it’s part of a genre and style I usually can’t stand is a testament to the writing craft and intelligence that went into its construction.
Overall, this is a very well-crafted game. It takes a simple concept, and packs a lot of high-quality humor and satire into a short game. The writing is delightfully scathing, and the game makes very good use of the choose-your-own-adventure format to tell a unique story.
And now you know!

Specific notes:
-Each branch ending with the moral of the story is a particularly clever touch. Each of the morals takes a legitmate moral (“Don’t do drugs”, “Don’t overestimate your ability”) and turns it on itself in an ironic and biting way, all while pointedly ignoring the fact that the player has no real alternatives. It also provides a well-utlized avenue for jokes that might otherwise be tough to fit into the narrative.
-Man, why do people drink bleach when there are perfectly good bridges availiable in most towns? It’s basic risk-reward analysis.
-The narrator’s parents don’t show up more than they need to, but when they do, they serve to emphasize then extent to which the narrator really has no support systems. And they add humor.
-Each of the various branches in this story are short and sweet, culminating in an amusing final scene. The length makes it easy for the player to quickly skip from path to path, and makes the story easily readable. This is a concept that does well from having more width than depth.
-Fun with acronyms!
-This game is successful at leaving the player with a sense of frustration, as there’s the sense that it would be so ridiculously easy to solve all the narrator’s problems with merely an ounce of common sense. Preventing the player from doing this is sort of the point, and it’s an effective narrative device.
-“You’ll probably expect a long and graphic detailed scene… well sorry, use your imagination.” Lol.

Grammar
All good!
Mastery of Language
There are some sentence structure issues, but not too many. Those that do exist actually contribue somewhat to the story’s conversational tone.

Branching
Really excellent, there’s a very wide variety of different endings the player can get.

Player Options/fair choice
Deliberately and masterfully awful.

CONCLUSION: An excellently written story that satirizes both high school and those that try to give shallow morals about it.


Repression, by Endmaster

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Repression, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: EndMaster

General Recommendation: I definitely recommend this game, in addition to the usual elements of humor in EndMaster’s works, this one has an additional layer of depth.
Preview: Can you break out of the cycle of emotional repression you’re stuck in in a way that improves your life?

=SPOILERS BELOW=

General notes:
I think this work is best read after one has already read a number of EndMaster’s other games and has a sense of what to expect from them. The way this game subverts player expectations means more when you fully understand how different this game could easily have been.
In a lot of ways, I see this game as a companioin piece to “A very special choose your story” (hereafter called AVSCYS). Both focus on the misadventures of a high school loser, and both are incredibly clever in their own ways. However, while AVSCYS focuses on the powerlessness of the narrator to change things, this game does the opposite: It focuses on the incredible power and agency the narrator has to affect the world around him.
Whereas in AVSCYS, no matter what you do you wind up dead or otherwise humiliated, in this game all of your actions are charged with consequence and meaning. Every action you take has an effect on your mental health and the lives of others. The wide variety of endings is where this game really shines. This, more than anything shows the power the narrator has to turn his life in a multitude of different directions.
This game also deserves praise for the complexity and nuance of its moral lessons. Too many similar stories seem to be trying to deliver a message that can be boiled down to a neat pithy phrase (as done humorously in AVSCYS). However, these pithy phrases can never be applied in all cases in real life. By instead showing how different actions have different outcomes in different situations, this game potrays a much more powerful statement about the complexity and difficulty of navigating of the real world.

Specific notes:
-The repeated refrain of “you feel nothing”, echoed across many of the bad endings really hammers in the bleakness of the narrator’s life. He has no hopes, no connections, nothing to live for, and can’t see any way to change his situation. The fact that this refrain is repeated multiple times helps to make this sense much more powerful. The wide variety of nothing endings makes the endings where you do succeed more powerful.
-Most of the “you feel nothing” endings do this, but the catatonia ending in particular shows just how detached and hopeless the protagonist of this story is.
-The sequence where you kill your mom and go on a shooting/try to cover it up with your sister is somewhat disconnected from the rest of the story, but nevertheless plays an important role. Covering up the murder shows the sense of panic and disorientation that prevades the narrator’s life; after having killed his mother, he’s more shocked and surprised than anything else.
-This game really gives the player two kinds of choices: You decide what to do, and then you decide how to feel about it. After killing your mom, you can panic, or you can keep your head. After deciding to go on a killing spree, you can decide if you care about revenge, or just causing chaos. This game is more than just events happening one after another, it’s an exploration of the ways the narrator’s emotional reactions affect himself and the world around him.
-I like that characters appear across multiple branches, and that events remain consistent. Henry is bullying Aaron when you arrive at school no matter what, but depending on your earlier choices, your reaction to this event can be very different. At the same time, the player is allowed to get different information about the characters depending on which path they encounter them on. On the shooting path, you don’t learn much about Jessica, but what you do learn adds depth and groundwork to her appearances in other pathes.
-Again, I’d like to draw a contrast between the shooting in this game and the one in AVSCYS. While that game focuses (very effectively) on the dark humor of the situation, this one takes a much more introspective look at the narrator’s decisions. EndMaster is capable of approaching the subject from a variety of different angles, each of which have their own value.
-If you do choose to follow the school shooting path, it’s fitting that you can’t get any endings where you feel something. You can die and find a kind of peace, but no outcome leads to any kind of emotional resolution. This isn’t the way for the narrator to find answers.
-The narrator finds relief in some of the “you feel nothing” endings, which is fitting. Many people in depressive states like this one are reluctant to leave them because of the emotional vulnerability they’ll be opening themselves up to.
-It’s interesting the wide range of interaction the narrator can have with the mother. There’s the incest, obviously, but there’s also murder, alleigance, hate, compassion, and disgust. It can be tough to have such a wide range of character interactions while keeping all personalities consistent, but neither the narrator nor the mother ever seem to deviate from their base personalities. The wide variety of interactions sheds light on the complex relationship the characters have, rather than feeling like disparate stories.
-You can get positive endings by choosing to side with your mother or sister, as doing this is at least expressing some kind of emotion. However, dividing your family means you can’t get the best ending of making peace in your family, you can only improve your own personal situation.
-After siding with your sister, the game has a nice progression where you can choose whether to interfere or not in a variety or disputes. In some cases your help is appreciated, in others, it’s obnoxious or unwelcome. The game does a good job of showing how the context of the situation matters, and that good ideas and principles can’t be applied unanimously to every situation. Trying to get too big too fast is just as depressing as doing nothing, and ultimately drags the narrator back down into his depression.
-The game also shows well that choosing to change and rebel isn’t enough, you have to do so thoughtfully and effectively, otherwise you’re just trading one bad situation for another. You can end up becoming just like your sister, or just like your mom, who are each dysfunctional in their own ways. Or, you can get a lifestyle that seems superficially satisfying, but doesn’t resolve any of your internal doubts.
-I like that the game allows some endings to be mediocre, like the one where “you feel normal”. There’s no real victory here, but things have changed a little, in a way that is mostly positive. This reflects real life, most of the time outcomes aren’t clear cut.
-All of the arcs in this game are about power, but the arc where you side with your sister is about aggressive power. You are not a peacemaker, but you can be a victor, a bully, a rebel, a defender, or any number of active roles. This is a good contrast to the arc where you side with your mom and never get access to the same kind of power, and to the arc where you side with neither, and develop the power to affect positive change in more subtle ways.
-Again, reaching out to your mom works, reaching out to Henry doesn’t. Different approaches are needed for different people.

Grammar
There are a few grammatical errors in the game.
Mastery of Language
Sentence structure is mostly good, though there are issues in places.

Branching
Quite good, there’s a lot of different ways this game can go. The wide variety of different possibilities adds to the game’s theme.

Player Options/fair choice
Not great, certain actions lead to choices the player doesn’t really have control over. But that’s not really the point of this game, so it doesn’t create any problems.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: Playing this game a few years ago, the very first ending I got was group hug.

CONCLUSION: An entertaining, well written, and surprsingly thoughtful look at the life of a repressed teenager.


TRASH, by Endmaster

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
TRASH, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: EndMaster

General Recommendation: This game is either your thing, or it’s not. If it is your thing, you’ll have an excellent time and will find it quite entertaining, and I recommend it. However, there are going to be some people for whom the humor in this story just doesn’t land.
Preview: Can you get a job and make enough money to convince your girlfriend to sleep with you at the end of the day?

=SPOILERS BELOW=

General notes:
The narrator of this story seems to have all the traits I disliked about the Geek, and none of the cleverness and resourcefulness that made him likeable. Even on the pathes where you succeed at making a quick buck, the narrator learns nothing, and nothing in his life really changes.
That said, the consistency of the narrator’s tone and attitude throughout the story ties together all the disparate branches. He is characterized quickly and effectively, and he keeps the story grounded despite the bizarre events that happen around him.
Everything here feels incredibly real. With most games there’s some sense of disconnect with the real world, but all the characters feel like real people you could actually meet and talk to, and somehow even all the bizarre events that happen are grounded by the narrator’s attitude towards them. Character voice and tone setting is done extremely well.
The mundanity and similarities between many of the endings (returning home to Tina) makes a nice bookend for all of the branches. You go out, you have a weird day, and then you go home. There’s a sense of rythym and cycle to this game that ties together all the branches. This game feels quite episodic, with all the plots feeling like things that could have happened to this character on different days.
For the most part, this story just leaves me wondering what the point was. Most of the endings are extremely mundane, with nothing changing in the protagonist’s life, and nothing meaningful happening during the story.
I’m still rating it an 8, because I try to rate games on quality rather than personal preference, and the only reason I didn’t enjoy this as much as some of EndMaster’s games is that I’m not in the target audience. Nevertheless, I can appreciate the craft and care that went into it, and for what it is, it’s very well done.

Specific notes:
-I get the sense this story is going to have a lot of gross-out humor, which isn’t really my thing. EndMaster has a talent for doing themes I dislike well, however, so I’ll reserve judgement.
-An… alligator? Was not expecting that.
-Employer killed in alligator attack, so the only logical thing to do was pick the cash register for change.
-There is plenty of gross-out humor, but so far it’s done in a way that’s more zany than genuinely disgusting. EndMaster doesn’t go into vivid descriptions, rather letting the reader use their imagination, which is more effective.
-Why is Tina dating this guy?
-The description of Jim’s room does a good job of characterizing him quickly and effectively.
-I find it amusing that you become a quasi local hero for getting into a scuffle with a guy with a brothel.
-I suspect th sequence at the pig farm will mean more to me when I get to Suzy’s Strange Saga.
-Also amusing that you accidentally provoke your cousin’s killing spree and just kind of leave.
-Crazy cat lady seems incredibly suspicious, but possibly rich.
-Lol you get cursed to be followed around by cats. The horror!
-I like that characters appear across multiple pathes, like Dan.
-The alien abduction is completely random, but fits oddly well with the tone of the work.

Grammar
Generally good.
Mastery of Language
Eh, not great. There’s a number of sentence structure issues. It fits well with the narrator’s haphazard nature, however.

Branching:
There’s an incredible amount of branching here. Pretty much every choice goes into its own unique narrative. The branches are generally not very deep, allowing for a reader to go quickly through a lot of different possible options.

Player Options/fair choice:
Generally good, outcomes are fair and predictable. There are some exceptions to this.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
This is the first of EndMaster’s games I hadn’t played before, so it was nice to read some fresh material. The first ending I got was the one where you get a job at the burger place and get fired for being in the room when an alligator busted out of the toilet.

CONCLUSION: Not my thing personally, but an objectively well-crafted story.


Tales From The Basement, by Endmaster

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Tales From The Basement, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: EndMaster

General Recommendation: I recommend this game. Those fond of the lol random and/or offensive genres will have an excellent time. Those who are unfamiliar with the genre can be pointed to this game as a fine example of the genre done correctly. Even those who dislike the genre may find themselves enjoying this story despite those elements, as it has such a wide variety of possible plotlines and outcomes that there’s probably something for everyone.
Preview: Can you successfully get a life? Or will you retreat to the mediocrity of your basement, if you survive the outside world at all?

=SPOILERS BELOW=

General notes:
This is a game that really has nothing else quite like it on the site. The closest I can think of is Trash (with similarities in humor and setting, and the same episodic feel), but there are subtle differences in theme and character that make this one it’s own unique thing.
Despite essentially being three seperate stories, the grouping of these tales into a single game helps the narrative of each individual game stand out in its own way. Cave of time storygames are already seperate stories grouped around a single character; this game takes the logical next step by grouping its narratives around a theme.
Ebay Escapist: A fine exampe of a “lol random” game done correctly. There’s a through-line of theme between all the branches, and even the plots and events that make no sense seem connected and fit with the world crafted around them.
Good Girl: It’s impressive how grounded this branch feels despite dealing with situations that are as fantastic, if not more so, than the other branches in this game. The narrator’s more detached tone, coupled with Suzy’s less, y’know, crazy, personality slows down the plot here and makes each mini-adventure seem more serious.
Anime Addict: Not my thing, probably for the same reasons I didn’t get as much enjoyment out of trash. I’m not familiar enough with the subject being mocked to really appreciate the satire and humor here. I expect other people in the target audience will find this branch quite entertaining and clever.
I’m not in this game’s target audience, but I did enjoy it more than any other work in the genre I know of. I liked this game more than Trash, due to the existence of semi-sympathetic characters, and more variety in humor types and plotlines.

Specific notes:
-Ebay Escapist starts off efficiently characterizing the lead by showing that they prefer dreams to realisty.
-I can already tell this story is going to be something different when the first major obstacle I face is a homicidal plant. Earth is saved!
-I know that stopping the kudzu & dying unrewarded vs running away and being blamed is more a result of the narrator’s pathetic life than anything else, but I do like when stories allow heroic actions to go unrewarded. It gives stories depth and makes the player question whether they’re playing the game to do well or to do good. More realistic.
-Gosh darn exchange rates
-I usually dislike when actions have very random outcomes, but it seems to fit the tone of this story pretty well, adding to the surreality and randomness.
-…now I can buy that bomb shelter I always wanted? Is this a ground zero prequel?
-Chainsaw murdered because of inconsistencies in english spelling. My own fault, really.
-Lol, I like that the styrofoam island is in more than one branch. Details like this prevent this branch from falling into the traditional pitfalls of similar games. It simultaneously adds connectedness and randomness in a positive way.
-This Ebay Escapist branch is probably the most well-crafted “lol random” game on here. Things happen without any apparent reason behind them, but in a weird way, everything fits with the world in a consistent way.
-I can’t believe the freaking abestos car is worth more than the island.
-After switiching to the anime branch, I’m struck by both the subtlety and the power of the tone shift between the two pathes. The narrator’s tone switches almost instantly, becoming both harsher, and more personally involved. While in Ebay Escapist the narrator is simply telling the Escapist’s story, here the narrator is directly judgemental, laughing at the Addict, and providing personal commentary.
-The grammatical horror of the phrase “AN HERO” really hammers the point in.
-The Addict branch seems to have a lot in common with Trash, both in narrational tone, and a lot of the plotlines.
-“Yiff in hell”, lol
-The use of the narrator’s name (Brian) in the Addict branch is clever. You don’t learn Brian’s name until he’s decided to pull himself out of his anime addiction and developed a bit more of a personality. Meanwhile, you never learn the Ebay Escapist’s name (due to the short random naature of the branch), and you learn Suzy’s name immediately (due to the more involved character-driven nature of her story).
-I can already tell the good girl branch is going to be the most complex, as we’ve got an actual cast of named characters. This does a good job of differentiating this branch right off the bat.
-Oh somebody’s getting those ashes dumped on them.
-Ben should just get a job building people bunkers (and killing Chulocks) since he seems to be really good at it.
-In the Good Girl branch, there’s been yet another narrational shift. This branch is probably the closest to EndMaster’s usualy writing style; a more traditional unbiased narrator who doesn’t directly comment on the action.
-“You would’ve wrote it in already” lol
-Somebody got the ashes dumped on them but it was not how I expected

Grammar:
All good!
Mastery of Language:
I didn’t notice any sentence structure issues, and I thought the change in the narrator’s voice from branch to branch was a particularly clever way of showing the difference between the stories.

Branching:
Quite excellent. Each major branch has literally dozens of different outcomes, with a wide variety of different ways the protagonist’s life can end up.

Player Options/fair choice:
Not great, but since this game has many lol random elements, that’s sort of the point and it’s not an issue.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:
In Ebay Escapsit I got the ending where you die fighting the kudzu. In Anime Addict I got the ending where you leave the house and immediately get beat up. In Good Girl I got the ending where you’re killed by Chulocks.

CONCLUSION: Another original installment by EndMaster in the CYS landscape.


Love SICK, by Endmaster

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Love SICK, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: EndMaster

General Recommendation: Honestly I don’t think there’s any way to tell in advance whether or not you’ll like this game. The warnings are NOT exaggerating, but it’s got a surprising amount of humor and character mixed in with the debauchery. Consult with your doctor prior to reading if you have any heart conditions.
Preview: Can you make your anniversary with your sister extra special?

=SPOILERS BELOW=

General notes:
Huh. Well, I enjoyed this more than I expected.
I was expecting something a bit like the more extreme parts of Trash or Basement Dwellers, but this story has a very different tone. It’s tough to say what exactly is different. I think it has to do with the perspective mostly. Rather than being narrated by a pathetic unmotivated character who gets beaten down, it’s narrated by a character who is pathetic in completely different ways and beats others down. This shifts the tone of the humor in a subtle, but important way.
I think the short length of this game really helps, it’s a simple concept, and trying to turn it into something longer would probably just result in it overstaying its welcome. As it is, the reader is quickly and violently thrust into an extreme situation, and thrust out of it just as quickly, before they really have a chance to orient themselves or decide how to feel about it. There’s no wallowing, no drawing out of the action. It’s all presented very quickly and neatly.
Gower put it best when he said this story is an experiment poking at the boundaries of what is acceptable. Just how many different forms of violence and degeneracy can be fit into a single game? Apparently, quite a lot.
Speaking of Gower’s comment, I also want to reiterate his assertion that this game can be seen as a CYS tolerance test. If you can read this game and laugh it off, then you’ve got the right attitude to prosper at CYS. This meta aspect of the game boosts its rating for me, since it feels like it’s got a wider purpose than simple shock.
This game does exactly what it set out to do, and it does it very efficiently. Like many of EndMaster’s games, I find this story stands alone, almost as its own unique genre. Any attempt to replicate it would be futile and pointless, as it perfectly occupies its own special niche on the site, and the world of storygames at large.

Specific notes:
-Well, as far as first lines go, this one’s certainly a grabber.
-“What rhymes with disembowel” lol
-Lol, “I thought you guys were against assisted suicide?” “That’s catholics!”
-Lol, “What? You think I do this for fun?”
-“Extrapolate” rhymes with “decapitate”.

Grammar:
Generally alright.
Mastery of Language:
Eh, could be better.

Branching:
There’s a lot of different choices the player can make, but they all end up pretty much the same way.

Player Options/fair choice:
Each actions represents accurately its outcome. That said, there’s not a lot of variety.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:
I usually don’t like stories that exist for the violence and nothing else, but this one had a lot of additional humor thrown in, which made it an enjoyable read.

CONCLUSION: I really don’t know WHAT to conclude. Readers will have to make up their own minds about where this game fits into the world of storygames.


Suzy's Strange Saga, by Endmaster

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Suzy's Strange Saga, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: EndMaster

General Recommendation: I highly recommend this game, particularly for those looking to see the branching cave of time format used in its full power.
Preview: Honestly, I think the less you know what to expect when starting this game, the better. Just jump right in. However: I strongly recommend that you read the other EndMaster games listed in the game’s description before reading this one, as there are a lot of callbacks.

=SPOILERS BELOW=

General notes:
The thing that really jumps out to me about this game is just how truly original all the concepts are. I say this primarily about this game, but as I’ve been reading and re-reading EndMaster’s games, it’s been true of all of them. Many games, books, and TV shows often can be fit into a specific story type; like fantasy quest, space adventures, apocalyptic, etc. EndMaster’s games, however, create their own niche. I can’t name a single other work of fiction that is comprable in plot and tone to his games Geek, Repression, A Very Special Choose Your Story, Trash, Tales from the Basement, and so on. A good author can take any oft-done concept and make an original work (as EndMaster does with games like Paradise Violated and Ground Zero), but I’m particularly struck by the originality of the ideas behind his shorter works.
Suzy’s Strange Saga takes this originality and drives it up to the max. It’s a game that absolutely refuses to be classified. Many staples of common genres are there (‘zombies’, dimensional travel, cult politics, etc.), but these elements all have a twist on them making them defy categorization, and the existence of these elements in the same game creates a total narrative that’s nearly impossible to define. It would be very easy for this variety to become a random kind of gimick and prevent a coherent narrative from forming, but EndMaster masterfully ties all the elements together so that each branch is both coherent, and genuinely adds on to total narrative.
One way I noticed this was done is through all the connections between the branches. Though this is a straight cave-of-time story, you run into the same characters and events across multiple different branches. (For example: the confrontation between the carnies and trailer park happens regardless of which side you’re on.) These events play out in a logical way depending on your choices up until this point, and characters act consistent with their personality in different contexts. Of all of EndMaster’s works, I would say this game takes the best advantage of the branching format to create a truly unique and connected world.
These connectedness extends to the amount of references to EndMaster’s other games. This game follows up on the stories of many of EndMaster’s other games. These references are never allowed to overpower Suzy, it’s her story after all, but it’s a lot of fun to see all the characters and events followed up on from previous games, and learn which endings are canon. This really contributes to the immersive feel of the game. The universe here feels very expansive and complex, there’s the sense that there’s a complete world to be explored no matter which direction you turn in. The existence of 16 complete epilogues certainly helps.
The character of Suzy herself is also handled quite well. Suzy has her own distinct personality, but her personality is allowed to change and grow in different ways depending on the choices the player makes. This makes the player feel like their decisions really matter, as they affect more than just what happens externally. At the same time, the facets of her personality that do remain consistent tie together the different branches of the game.
Finally, I’d like to note how the game’s originality makes it hard to figure out what’s going to happen next while still respecting narrative structure. As someone who reads/watches a lot of fiction, I can usually predict many of the future plot events in stories. I can’t do that in this game; the story never takes an easy obvious way of resolving a situation. Yet it’s clear this game isn’t going out of it’s way to mislead the reader (as some works do, to their detriment). Events are appropriately foreshadowed, this unpredictability is just emerging naturally from its setting and characters. This game is guaranteed to be a fresh and different read, even to those who have difficulty finding media that can still surprise them.

Specific notes:
-The recap of how Suzy’s situation has changed since TFTB is presented in a quick way, which prevents it from being an infodump.
-I’m amused that the serial killer ending with Bobby is the canon one for TFTB.
-I’m not liking any of the options on the first page. Getting help from Peter sounds like a good way to get a part in his next movie. Moving in with Donna and Julie seems like it would not be condusive to getting a job. Relying on Bobby for help flits too close to the possibility of being ritually sacrificed. I guess I’m going to go with Donna and Julie as this option seems to have the least health hazards, but I’m not happy about it.
-I’m curious to see what effect (if any) the GZ references will have on the plot.
-Lol. “Who would be vaccuming?” “Donna?” “Nah.”
-Distracted the national guard by pretending (“pretending”) to be lesbian. Can’t believe that worked. Do people really get aroused that easily?
-For a story that doesn’t set itself up as a zombie apocalypse story, it somehow manages to be one of the better zombie apocalypse stories on the site. I think the mistake most zombie games make is they focus on the mechanics, while ignoring the emotional tension and stakes that are actually at the heart of the genre. This game focuses on those aspects, making it feel more like a true “zombie” story than many similar games.
-Lol Mel is in this. I find it amusing that he’s the leader of one of the surviving factions.
-With EndMaster’s two other giant stories (Rogues and eternal) covering decades of a character’s life, it’s interesting to see a story that just covers a single crazy week. It allows the plot and characters to be more detailed, and allows them to have a wider variety of possible outcomes (this story has 16 victory epilogues, which I believe is EndMaster’s record.)
-Julie is the kind of character who could very easily have become annoying, as she’s not as competent as Suzy, but she’s written in a way that prevents her from becoming dead weight and allows her to remain sympathetic.
-Johnny’s annoying even when he’s not murdering people. His initial holier-than-thou attitude towards the other partiers is a good signal for his future/alternate behavior while not immediately being a major danger sign.
-I like the contrast between Suzy’s competence in the arcs with Julie and Johnny. In the Julie arc, Suzy becomes strong and action-taking, making decisions and standing up for herself. In the Johnny arc, Suzy allows her life to be pulled out from under her by a stranger, and reacts to danger with fear rather than action. Additionally, her reaction to Peter’s phone call shows how unraveled she’s become.
-One thing I really like about this story is the consistensy across the branches. Many storygames have events that change depending on unrelated actions the player takes, or the branches are just so disconnected from each other that consistensy doesn’t matter. But in this game, events remain consistent, and you’re allowed to come across the same situation in a variety of different contexts.
-“Property of the Ground Zero Corporation”? Was Ben working with Ground Zero? Heck, they might even have been the government agents he was worried about seizing his stuff.
-Oh, is Johnny supposed to be the kid from repression? That would explain the mother/sister references, as well as the incest kink. I wonder which ending is the canon one for repression.
-The wide variety of different plotlines in this game fleshes out not just the characters, but the setting. As the branches weave around each other, you really get a full view of the town’s geography and nature.
-I like Mel’s inclusion in the arc with Donna. A familiar face makes his character and the trailer park setting automatically more rounded, and it’s fun to see him taking actions in a different context. I didn’t enjoy Trash as much as EndMaster’s other stories largely because Mel couldn’t seem to get up off his ass in any meaningful way, but in this game he’s taking initiative and controlling the situation, which makes him more likeable and more fun to read.
-The repeated refrain of GZS commercials is a nice way of tying the days and branches together.
-All of the references in this story are excellently done. Often times, references can go overboard if writers get too excited about them, but EndMaster refrains from hitting the reader over the head with these references, instead allowing them to fit in naturally with the story he’s constructing.
-I like the snapshot scene used for the Bandit Blondie epilogue. It does an excellent job of illustrating Suzy’s new situation, and the changes in her character.
-The pathes where you leave the trailer park do a good job at showing Suzy’s personality and morals changing slowly rather than all at once.
-I like that you’re able to have a positive relationship with Donna in one of the endings. That’s another strength of this game; Suzy is allowed to have very different relationships with all the characters depending on which branch you’re on. It allows these side characters to be fleshed out in ways they never could in a linear story, and adds weight to the player’s decisions.
-Bobby, practitioner of cult worship and human sacrifice, gets defensive about being compared to a mormon.
-I like that even though Bobby is a cultist, he’s self aware, and can raise legitimate poitns about Suzy’s odd standards.
-Hang on, are Leslie and Lillith supposed to be the couple from love sick? If so, that would explain a lot about the GZS shelters.
-I like that the chaos god is Tiamat, most readers will have a basic familiarity with who she is.
-Too bad Aiden’s spelled with an e, otherwise aidan and nadia would be the names reversed.
-Suzy and Helen are bonding. “It’s okay, everyone thinks about killing people sometimes.”
-The cult dynamics and debates over what is the best way to serve Tiamat are interesting. The arc I’m currently on doesn’t go into too much detail, so I hope to have more involvement in them in later arcs.
-Like Bobby, Bobby’s grandmother can call Suzy out on some of her strange priorities.
-The epilogue with Enki is oddly touching; Suzy has grown past her basement-dwelling tendencies, and is now trying to instill the lessons she’s learned in a new generation. Albiet she’s grown from a basement dweller into a cult member, but the point still stands.
-“Tiamat’s chaos can be as kind as it can be cruel” is a nice take on the cult.
-I like that Helen can be an antagonist or an ally depending on the arc. It fits with what we know of her personality, since she’s so easily dominated by whichever strong personality is around her. I also like that she’s more intelligent than Diana when it comes to plotting to kill Suzy.
-I like that the cult’s relationship with the trailer park is different depending on which epilogue you get.
-On the path to epilogue 13 (Matriarch of Madness) I thought the chocies got a little repetitive, the final 4-5 choices essentially amount to trust/don’t trust Helen.
-Well whaddaya know, the Ebay Escapist has a name.
-There’s a lot of J names in this game. Julie, Johnny, Jake, Jack.
-I like the inclusion of Jack’s character on this arc. He’s not being a jerk (yet), and is adding elements of mystery and unpredictability to the story.
-I’m not sure why there’s a detour where you leave Jack and then return; all it seems to do is provide two more opportunities to die.
-The adventure in the gray building so far is fun.
-I keep thinking this is Rask. EDIT: Oh, it IS Rask.
-If Suzy is the mother, that explains a damn lot.
-I’m quite intrigued by the parallel universe plotline.
-Gay alternate universe Suzy. Lol Suzy just needs to admit she’s bi at this point. On that point, I think Suzy’s sexuality has been handled pretty well. It never becomes too important, or pushed aside at times when it should be important, and the two possible gay relationships in this game are healthy (Julie) or at least no more messed up than other comprable male ones (Helen).
-Lol: “You’re a writer. Makes sense actually. You certainly procrastinate enough.”
-After seeing so many parallel universe plotlines where the protagonists are sent to a version of reality that is slightly worse than their own, it’s fun to visit one where the protagonist and world at large are actually better off. Makes me wonder if this timeline is closer to the “real life” timeline.
-I like the implication that the other arcs in this story are books written by Epilogue 15 Suzy.
-The mother character is used quite effectively. Though we never actually meet Suzy’s mother in other branches, from what Suzy has said of her to others, we know she loved her a lot and she had a big influence on her life. Having her play a major role in this branch works because of the details we already know about her, and it adds depth to the other branches, where Suzy’s mother never shows up in person, but her influence still drives many of her decisions.
-I’m torn on how to feel about Suzy’s mother knowing her identity. On the one hand, it makes for a good scene between the two, and is more realistic than Suzy successfully fooling everyone. On the other, it’s hard to believe that Suzy’s mother could overlook her daughter being replaced by a stranger.
-Every now and then, it feels like the narrator is talking directly to you. It’s intriguing, in a story like this it makes me wonder whether there’s something else going on.
-Ahh yes, Lillith, the GZS employee, and quite possibly incestuous serial killer. Maybe this is the branch where we’ll learn what’s causing the crazy cannibalism. EDIT: Yes, it is.
-“Humanitarian” lol.
-Claiming to be sick to avoid Jed and Hugo is quite clever here.
-Occasionally while playing these games, I’ll make a choice as a matter of principle, despite fully expecting it to kill me. Choosing not to go to the shelter with Lillith and Leslie was such a decision, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my gut instinct was correct.
-I find it amusing that in a numebr of the endings, you’re having sex when the bomb goes off.
-I’m surprised that Suzy and Bobby get back together in Epilogue 14, but I think it works well. Suzy didn’t want to marry him because she didn’t want to risk throwing herself into his power on his terms. Her adventures during the story allowed her to develop her own power and ability to take care of herself, allowing them to have a much more equal relationship.
-I like how the cannibalism thing was built up slowly over the course of the story, with plenty of foreshadowing surrounding the meat and Suzy’s capacity for violence, but never so much that it hit the reader over the head with it. This allows the epilogue to be logical without seeming obvious, and avoids it seeming like it’s just going for a shock factor.
-I find it amusing that the geek was too drunk to remember the details of his own plotline. I also like that he eventually ran the circus.
-I like that Roger appears in multiple branches, as alt Suzy’s husband, and as a national guard.
-The extent of the lust/hate Suzy is drawing from the male and female members of the carnival seems oddly high, I wouldn’t think people would react in such an extreme and unified way to a new face.
-I like that you can end up on both sides of the confrontation between the trailer park and the carnival, and that it is optimally resolved in an aggressive or peaceful way depending which side you’re on. The contrast shows well the difference between the two groups, and the differences in Suzy’s character on each of those pathes.
-I also like that while the clowns were clearly the main villains of Geek, they have a more heroic role in this story.
-It’s fitting that Suzy ends up with Shrimpy in two of the epilogues. He always seemed to respect her most as a human being, and they had a genuine friendship beyond his attraction.
-Lol, “Right, like arriving at a door with a group of clowns isn’t straight out of a horror movie.”
-I think the New Security ending is important for the balance of the story, in this ending, though Suzy survives, she never really grows past her basement-dwelling mentality. It serves well as a contrast to the other endings where she grows in power. It also serves as a more wholesome contrast to some of the darker endings. Interestingly, Suzy’s comptence and morality seem to be inversely proportional.
-I like how the Rogue and Zalmora have a fairly equal relationship. Both can hold their own against the other when need be, but are still willing to compromise.

Grammar:
Generally good.
Mastery of Language:
There are sentence structure issues, notably a lack of commas. I noticed a typo here and there, though not many, considering the length of the story. A couple dialogue issues.

Branching:
Quite good. For a story of this length to have sixteen unique epilogues is impressive.

Player Options/fair choice:
Eh. Not great. For a more story-oriented game like this one, it’s pretty much unavoidable, but many actions have consequences that could not possibly have been forseen by the player. Most notably, chosing not to have sex with Bobby in your living room means you later give him a blowjob while driving and cause a car accident.

Nitpicks:
The only real confusion I have with this game is that sex is extremely important to everyone in a way that seems unrealistic. It’s well-written, it just seems odd that nearly every character views Suzy in some sort of sexual way. Granted, this could accurate and I just haven’t been exposed to the places where this behavior is frequent.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:
Got epilogue 7 on my first run (the bunker lesbians one), I think I did alright as far as not dying goes, though dying a few times is pretty much inevitable in EndMaster’s games.
After finishing the game, I think this is probably the best ending. Suzy develops skills and confidence, but she never turns evil, and ends up having a fairly good life. The other endings all have drawbacks to them. (Endings 1, 3 and 8-10 are a bit meh, 5 and 6 both suck, 11-13 are alright but involve being a human-sacrificng cult leader, for 2, 14, and 15 you have to make really unethical choices to get there, 16 you end up losing your entire family and world, coolness factor aside. 4 is probably second best as far as Suzy’s situation goes, with 10 being not too far behind.)
Amusingly, I found ending 1 last.

CONCLUSION: An impressively expansive, immersive, and original game that stands as one of the site’s most unique games, as well as one of its best explorations of the branching cave of time format.



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