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Haiku, by Flaminia Grimaldi

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Try your hand at writing some haiku, January 23, 2023
by Kinetic Mouse Car
Related reviews: Twine, Twiny Jam

Haiku was submitted to the Twiny Jam (hosted by Porpentine, yay!) where the rules were simply to make short Twine game with no more than 300 words. This was partly to make the idea of submitting a game to a jam/event less daunting since it can be easy to talk oneself out of participating, you know, just in case everyone submits a longer and better game than your own creation. I'm part joking, but there is truth to it. Submitting a game to anything can be a big unknown. Narrowing down the word limit to 300 reigns in the expectations of scale while also encouraging innovative cleverness though a word limit.

The game's title borrows from a traditional Japanese poetic structure known as a haiku. These are short three lined poems with specific rules on how many syllables can be in each line. Haiku lets you compose a poem by clicking on each line of a haiku provided at the start of the game. I believe the terms a replace macro. Its a common sight in Twine games. Each line has about five choices to choose from. You swap each line out with another until you are satisfied with your creation. Here is mine:

A pond full of carps
Tells a story to the child
Lies among the grass

The game then ends on a peaceful, reflective note.

I must say, Haiku is rather minimalist, even for the game jam. From a gameplay standpoint the haiku creation process is not particularly advanced. Clicking on a bunch of links several times is not necessarily going to be a hit with players, but offsetting this through other characteristics that engage the player transforms the gameplay experience.

In this case, Id say that the writing would be the characteristic that keeps the game afloat, and I think it mostly succeeds with this. The first haiku line had some cool options, but the options for lines two and three were not quite as potent. It did not quite feel as satisfying as I expected but I still enjoyed it.

The author plays with some simple but appealing visuals for ambience. The background is off-white colour with green text. The bottom of the screen has simple artwork of riverbank surrounded by grass and cattails. The artwork uses basic brush strokes and is merely meant to be a vague impression.

Haiku captures the idea of less is more, which only enhances the minimal yet potency of haiku poetry. Simple and subtle things can work together to make a finished work more complex than its individual components. Now, I am giving this game three stars instead of four because its premise could have been a little more evolved with how the player interacts with the poetry. That said, it still captures a strong sense of serenity through its haiku concept and visual design that makes it enjoyable to play.

If you are shopping around for anything to do with poetry in interactive fiction, I recommend Haiku.

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What are you wearing?, by Von Django
Not much substance to it but a lighthearted topic, August 29, 2022

This is a Twiny Jam game of less than 300 words about a parent casting a critical eye over you and your possessions before you leave on an excursion. It reminds me of being in the dead of winter about to leave when your parents interject that your jacket is not warm enough or that those shoes will be painful for your feet halfway through the day (and usually they are right). This game follows a similar concept.

At the start of the game, you select either a mom or a dad to be the parent in the gameplay. When you try to leave your parent stops you and comments on the (Spoiler - click to show) practicality of your clothes, the amount of food you have, how you intend on keeping yourself safe, and whether or not you snatched something sneaky when they were not looking. For each of these prompts the player selects one of three links that influence the dialog. For example, (Spoiler - click to show) when asked about food you may say trout, mushrooms, or rabbit which each result in a different response. This is the height of the interactivity in this game. It is a short game and needs to be because it was submitted to a game jam with specific rules, but it still felt like it could have been more substantial. The game's ending is sweet and sentimental but a little abrupt.

We never get any backstory on the protagonist's journey. I am curious to know why they are inspired to (Spoiler - click to show) don a "rakish hat sporting peacock feathers" or have a "mark of Grun" to ensure their safety. The writing suggests that the protagonist will be weathering the raw elements during the trip and risk the possibility of encountering bandits. There are tiny little details that hint at a surreal world but none of it comes into play.

In conclusion, this is a short and simple Twine game that can be reasonably relatable. There is not really a specific audience in mind or a dominant message but if you are looking for something brief and positive than this game is a good choice.

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