Ratings and Reviews by Wynter

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500 Apocalypses, by Phantom Williams

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Society was an exquisite thing; we love it all the more now that it is gone, August 30, 2021
by Wynter (London, UK)

Having previously read Summit, I was hoping for something good from Phantom Williams, and got it - not a story, but hundreds of fragments of stories, from hundreds of ruined civilisations.

There is something reminiscent of Jorge Luis Borges here, or Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities: instead of telling the entire story of a single world, why not take that idea to its logical conclusion and present only the fragments that would survive from such an event?

Many of the fragments are eerie, some are beautiful, others are a little disturbing. Some don't quite seem to qualify as apocalypses. But all leave you wondering: what happened here?

This is best read in bits and pieces, over a long period of time, and without any strategy, but simply by wandering from one passage to another.

(If you were wondering, the title quote comes from Apocalypse 189)


17776 , by Jon Bois

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Opened my eyes to multimedia fiction, August 28, 2021
by Wynter (London, UK)
Related reviews: Multimedia

I read this a few years ago - it was the first piece of multimedia fiction that I had ever read, and it inspired me to go in search of internet-based fiction, which ultimately led me to IFDB.

17776 makes use of different formats - text, video, gif, even a calendar - to tell a rather bizarre but genuinely fascinating and original story. Reading through the first chapter in particular made me feel strangely unnerved and wonder what was going to happen. I don't want to give too much away, but it's set in the distant future when human life is extraordinarily different, and is told from an unusual perspective.

Although it's relatively low on the interactive elements, the multimedia aspect of it will appeal to people interested in new storytelling formats.


Photopia, by Adam Cadre

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Well-plotted fiction, June 18, 2021
by Wynter (London, UK)

I appreciated Photopia above all as a short story. Alley's life is told through the medium of brief sections of text, presented out of chronological order, and not from her own perspective, but from the perspective of different people in her life. As in some of the short stories of Alice Munro, the reader takes these different fragments of time and pieces them together.

The framed sections, in coloured text, are outside of this world altogether: strange, imaginary landscapes. How do they relate to the main story? The reader has to figure it out. And the final scene reveals - to us, but not the main character - the ultimate source of these stories.

I found myself wanting more from the framed stories: there was enough description of the various fantasy landscapes to get me interested, but if they had been described in more detail, and allowed more "examine" responses, I would have been more interested in these parts. They may have benefited from some more complex puzzles. When I did get stuck, such as in the crystal maze, it wasn't the 'good stuck' feeling that comes from untangling something brainteasing.

The final revelation was an excellent twist. It made me wish the whole game was somewhat longer and more fully realised: we should be feeling that Alley is haunted by this buried memory, that it has been a part of her for her whole life and yet she doesn't know what it is.

I don't find myself as moved by Photopia as many other people do, even though it is obviously about a tragic event: I'd like the air of mystery and wonder to be greater, and for Alley's inner feelings to be explored in more depth (if that is possible, considering that it goes for the clever device of describing her through other people's eyes). But I can at least see the potential for a moving story in it.


A Place of Infinite Beauty, by Porpentine
Wynter's Rating:

The Impossible Bottle, by Linus Åkesson

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Cute, clever, and impressively polished, June 7, 2021
by Wynter (London, UK)

I came to this game with high expectations, having previously played Tethered by the same author. The Impossible Bottle is diametrically different in atmosphere and setting - the only thing they have in common is that, in both games, objects aren't what they seem to be at first glance - but this is another excellent game by Linus Åkesson.

This game is based on one single, very strong and very thoughtfully worked-out idea: (Spoiler - click to show)a dollhouse which allows you to change the size and nature of items inside the actual house, and vice versa. This reminded me somewhat of a similar mechanic in (Spoiler - click to show)Emily Short's Metamorphoses, except in that game the solutions felt a bit more arbitrary and random, perhaps due to the more mystical atmosphere, whereas in The Impossible Bottle they were more logical and easier to figure out.

After having struggled through a couple of fiendish (but deeply, deeply enjoyable) games by Graham Nelson (both of which, if I'm not mistaken, are referenced in this game: try chatting to Nolan at different points in your progress), I appreciated the 'merciful' rating of this one, not to mention the hint system, which gave out tips without giving too much too quickly.

The child-centred view of the world ("this room is the best, because it's yours") was sweet and funny, and once I had figured out how to make the game 'work' it was great fun to (Spoiler - click to show)move different objects and change them from one thing to another. And there is a cuddly capybara in it.


Can you stop Jeremy Corbyn from joining ISIS?, by Tom McNally and Ben Edwards
Wynter's Rating:

Summit, by Phantom Williams

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Beautiful, strange yet convincing, April 4, 2021
by Wynter (London, UK)
Related reviews: Choice-based fiction

What a strange and beautiful piece of interactive fiction!

Summit is based on a startling idea: that human beings must periodically expel living fish from their fishstomachs, and then swallow them, ultimately choosing a more gradual death over a prompt one. Somehow Phantom Williams manages to make this idea sound completely convincing within a few minutes.

The story is based on the desire for the far-off summit of the mountain, and the long journey that must be taken in order to reach it. I would have liked more time to have been spent expressing why the character desires to reach the mountain.

Your journey takes you through a number of different places, in each of which the people find a different way to deal with issues of death, fish, and ecstasy. Having played it through twice, I think the path taken by the character is roughly the same in different playings, but it's possible to skip parts and include or exclude other characters, and to make decisions about how to spend your time in each place, and how much time.

The style of frequent link-clicking, based on symbols which may or may not have significance, slows the story down and gives it an almost meditative feel. The descriptions of the places you visit are mysterious and beautiful, creating an excellent sense of atmosphere.

One question: it promises music, yet I couldn't see any way of turning it on (yes, I had sound switched on). Given the atmospheric nature of the piece, I would have loved to have heard that.


Babyface, by Mark Sample

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Atmospheric multimedia fiction, March 28, 2021
by Wynter (London, UK)
Related reviews: Multimedia

In this Twine short story, a great sense of atmosphere and suspense is created, not just by the use of images and sound, excellent as those are, but by thoughtful use of links: links that change text when you click on them, links that trigger a time delay, and changes of layout. I would have liked the plot to have developed more - it felt like reading the first half of a story.

Nevertheless, this is a good example of what I would consider multimedia fiction, where the interactivity provided by Twine is used not to give the reader a choice of narratives, but to provide atmosphere and to move the story onwards.


Birdland, by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
Wynter's Rating:

howling dogs, by Porpentine
Wynter's Rating:


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