General Recommendation: I recommend this game. The story is largely linear, but this in no way detracts from the enjoyment as the puzzles and narrative are both engaging and well-constructed.
Preview: You accidentally intrude on a stranger’s dream, and now must complete a series of trials to keep your right to dream, otherwise you will lose the ability to dream. At the same time, you deal with a dangerous situation with a friend in the real world, and delve deeper into what this dreamworld really is.
Basic Plot & Coherence:
The plot is logical, and one event follows another. The author did an excellent job gradually increasing the stakes and the tension. I only read through one of the three plotlines (the Rick one), but I found that both the dream and real life sequences were entertaining and complimented each other. Each successive trial brought something new, but consistent, to the narrative. The various subplots and mini-plots for each trial were well tied in. The only part I didn’t understand was why the main character is so afraid of his inner evil. He doesn’t show any inclination towards evil action (until the final choice you can make in the “e” stage), and although he experiences temptation from his evil self, he doesn’t ever seem realistlcally likely to give in to it. Still, that subplot was also very well done, and foreshadowed well the aforementioned “e” stage ending. Excellent plot.
Characters & Development:
Every character, even the ones that only had a scene or two, seemed well rounded and developed. None of them seemed flat or two-dimensional. The main character had a consistent personality, which is tougher to do in an interactive format, but was done very well. Rosaline’s personality was equally well-developed, and I found it believeable that the two characters could get along as well as they did, particularly while cooperating in a difficult situation. Rick was also well-developed. Admittedly, having a twin is a pretty common plot twist, but it was pulled off very well. The subplot with rick maintained both humor and tension, the character dynamics between rick and the main character were done well. Importantly, the characters and their attitudes changed realisically over time as the relationship developed.
There were mistakes in places, but nothing too horrible.
Mastery of Language:
The language was excellently used and contributed well to the overall tone and feel of the story.
Mechanics & Coding:
Excellently coded. The story maintains the constant “jungle” plotline, while weaving in details for three seperate subplots. Each of the challanges was cleverly built, and logically solved. I was especially impressed by how you worked the puzzles.
There was only one glitch I noticed, if you take the correct underwater path at a certain time in the “u” stage, you still end up failing the challenge.
It's a very linear story, but there is a surprisingly large and well-done amount of branching for such a linear story. You have the choice of multiple subplots, numerous endings, and numerous places to stop off along the way. The story is honest about its linearity, and works well within those bounds.
Player Options/Fair choice:
Generally pretty good. You’re given a lot of freedom in how to solve the various puzzles, although there are a few places where the player doesn’t have much choice about things.
Nothing to complain about for “fair choice”. Consequences are adequately foreshadowed, and there are no “gotcha!” moments that the player doesn’t deserve.
Endings: The best endings (in my opinion) are the two you can get by completing the “jungle”. The dark path ending was foreshadowed well with the evil subplot, though it’s a little unclear what exactly the main character is doing. Each of the endings you can take along the way by taking a job in the dream world are well fleshed out and present a complete picture. Even the “you fail” endings seemed to give a complete picture of what happened to the main character after the events of the story.
I played this through using the Rick subplot, so I can’t accurately represent the other two. For me, the most challenging stage was the “l” stage (especially the patience part), I repeatedly made horrible choices and failed here. This was one of the few interactive fiction games during which I never felt bored or wanted to quit.
CONCLUSION: A truly excellent work.