Edenia is a dry sci-fi game, set on some strange planet, where you play some sort of humanoid character afflicted with strange reoccurring dreams. Aside from your tumultuous sleep, your life is pretty mundane and calm... unless your path takes you somewhere else...
Built in a Gauntlet-style, Edenia offers multiple paths to reach the many different proposed endings. Set to undergo a routine scan, with an eerie timing around your dreams, you get multiple opportunities along the way to cure your ailments and go back to your life, or dig deeper into those strange occurrences - maybe even uncovering secrets.
Though it is easy to "call yourself to order", especially at the start of the story, the game makes it obvious the path to take, the "winning" state, is the one where you question your ailments and look into the mystery of those dreams. Something is wrong with you, but why? (Spoiler - click to show)Some medical staff urges you into procedures without much explanations, but for what reason? Other brush off your concerns or try to move you out of the way, but why? It becomes quite transparent you are not supposed to have those dreams, and your changing condition will make it hard for the authority to control.
Still, it was not an easy game to get into, as you are thrown into this world with alien concepts and names without much explanation. The writing itself was quite dry. It was frankly at time disorienting - I wasn't sure if I misread something at the start or whether I was supposed to have played another game before this one. While it does add to the distress you are supposed to feel as this character with out-of-the-ordinary dreams and build on the suspense, it also felt at times tedious to go through.
It was nice the game allowed you to return to a previous choice block if you arrived at an end rather than having the play the whole thing back. It made checking the other options much easier.
Filled with cat-puns and light humour, Capitaine Chavire ships you on an adventure of a lifetime (potentially literally). After setting up a small crew you sail the Milk Sea in search of treasures, food, and companions. Along the way, you may encounter other ships you can fight against or negotiate with, deserted islands where you can pick up lone crew members or find extra food, and mystical creatures to face.
If you manage to keep enough crew and food, navigating the tempestuous sea for long enough, the game will abruptly call the final trial*. Depending on the crew aboard your ship, you may manage to pass it and fulfilling your dream. I have yet to beat the requirements, always missing something by the end.
*I think you need to have clicked on a specific cardinal direction a certain number of times?
While the resource management gameplay is fun, I found the humourous writing to be the highlight of the game. Everything in the game is cat-related. You barter in kibbles, recruit crew whose name will start with Cha/Chat, sail the literal Milk Sea... (Spoiler - click to show)all to fight a mystical fish. Even replaying was entertaining, as locations and names were randomised at every turn.
(Spoiler - click to show)Speaking of the fish, it reminded me of the Rainbow Fish children's book, with... well... it's rainbow scales. Cute throwback!
Either I'm bad at resource management, or I didn't explore enough, or I just have bad luck, but not reaching a positive end has made me wonder if there is a winnable state with the game or if it is possible to reach it at all. The title of the game, and of your name, Chavire, implies something to capsize. While this could refer to the consequences of the trial if you fail, or the treacherous seas, it could also imply your ship will always capsize no matter what you do.
On day, I'll try to get on this milky sea and try my luck again...
A powerful storm is coming, and you might not have forgotten to fully prepare for it. You expect some damage, but can you avoid it?
You know there is a storm coming, and, while your abode has withstood harsher weather, you hope to find little damage the day after. Unfortunately for you, the preparation you made were not enough, as disturbing sounds alert you of broken things around the house. Saddened by the realisation of how much must be replaced when surveying the day after and the little care you put in preparing for the storm, you think hard about what you could have done instead and...
(Spoiler - click to show)...you are sent right back to the beginning of the game. Thanks to some sort of time-travelling powers, you are able to correct your mistakes, and securing better your property. The storm comes and goes, before you will have to inspect the potential damages again.
(Spoiler - click to show)This looping gameplay will repeat, introducing different element around the house that the storm will target, forcing you to check its condition and prepare for the oncoming storm in the following loop. A few screens will have a timer, choosing the first listed option if the timer runs out. As far as I could tell, there was no failure ending, as the game will continue to restart until all elements are taken care of. It is very merciful game on the player, allowing them ample space for mistake and correcting them.
The UI is made of three different screens: before, during and after the storm, each with its respective colour palettes to align with the background. The background looked strangely pixelated or had a low resolution. The nicest to the eye was the after the storm screens.
Following a mundane incident, revolts have spurred around the land. Previous action on your part having failed, they are now marching towards the castle to demand retribution. As Lord of the land, you must ensure the safety of your subjects as well as bringing peace back. Seeking council from your advisors, the Intendant and the Chef des Guardes, you may find things aren't quite as they seem...
Behind the literary prose, the game is more layered than it lets on at first. It is not just the safety of your subject that should matter to you, but your standing with them, and how far they could go to regain some sort of peace. You will need to play through the story a few times to get the whole picture - two playthroughs at least.
If not just to find all endings, the intrigue itself left me wanting to know what was going on. After all, time is pressing, and you have little to interrogates those around you for information (assuming you don't already know).
Though the game is fairly linear, with certain events being unavoidable, the game offers enough choices to avoid feeling being dragged along by the story. One of the major choice branches the story in two separate, yet fairly similar paths. There is some interesting investigative interactivity in each path, uncovering quite the secrets, albeit short depending on the sequence of action.
The game has a simple UI, with a single colour background, a few lines of descriptions or dialogue, and a list of choice or arrow to continue. To differentiate between orators and internal thoughts, the game will change the colour of the background, adding sometimes inconsistently a portrait of the relevant orator above their title.
While the main story was quite rounded, I found the final section confusing. Doubling down in the fantastical, the game introduced a new character to set the ending. I thought this was a detriment to the rest of the game, as few to no hints were included ahead. It is still unclear whether the end could be a cliffhanger to a future project or if I just missed something crucial in previous passages. I think the game could have worked just fine without.
Still, Ending A felt more thematically on point than Ending B, the latter being the more confusing out of the two.
70NW is essentially a one page game emulating the (in)famous fanfiction website Archive of Our Own, listing Goncharov fanfics - texts unavailable to you aside from their tags and blurb. You can click on different elements to filter the 70 fics into smaller groups.
While you can’t technically read each of those fanfics - ironic, considering you can’t really watch the movie either - the elements of each fic may give enough to infer what they could be about. From the title, to the blurb, or the tags including different characters, themes, content warnings, or story structure. Many will refer to specific scenes or motif of the “movie”, or a specific ship. Some fill the gaps the movie didn’t cover, some deep dive into non-canon territory. Some take the alternate universe approach, others have crossovers (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Turnabout Clocktower)
The “game” both makes fun of the meme itself with the deranged theories that sparked during the craze and of fanfic websites like AO3 with its as deranged tags and fanfics (honestly). Even though I never really frequented these fanfic sites, the game does a pretty good job at takes their likeness (a more yellow-ish coffee stain background might have been too on the nose…), as well as the representing the deluge of fanfics submitted to those websites soon after the meme took over Tumblr (there are over 300 of them right now on AO3).
Out of all 70 non-fic, The fruit vendor didn’t deserve this?? was my favourite. When is the crossover with the Cabbage man of ATLA planned?
Goncharov 2073 is a fairly short stylistic linear piece with one small choice, set in a not-so-far and not-so-implausible future, in which Goncharov is a movie written by an AI, rather than the illusive and very human Matteo JWHJ0715. At the movie premiere, you and a group of activists will try to derail the event as a protest. Will you truly succeed?
Following Kon - not their real name - you oversea the smooth running of a project started months prior. Due to the significance of the event, the first ever screening of an AI generated movie, it is of the upmost importance things go the way they should. One small mistake and it will mean the end of the team. Things often go haywire on sabotage missions, and it is never when you think it might…
While the entry might seem to follow tropes of sabotage missions, delivering the tension at every turn, having the blasé handler, or things not going quite as planned, it is not much of the story or the meme that is most noteworthy, but the messages behind it. It should not be this surprising, with the author’s other games often having quite a bit to say or critique about the state of things.
In the past years, there have been increasing talk about Artificial Intelligence and its use in different industry. Recently (as of this review), it has been found that Entertainment Companies have been looking into rendering the likeness of background actors and using AIs to render them in the final project (without needing them on set). The use of AI software to render text or visuals is becoming more common, even going as a replacement for employees. It feels a bit hard to remove this topical aspect from the story of this game: an AI has written this movie, an AI is controlling the likeness of a (probably) dead Martin Scorcese…
The onus is not really put on the AI here - it is just a tool (and not a reliable or great one at that, if the comments about the movie are to be trusted*). The game takes a hit at the companies behind it, the ones using the tool, the ones actually profiting in this endeavour. *or that could just be making fun of the meme, whose lore is often contradictory.
In-game, the rules around AI use regarding using the likeness of someone cannot be done without their consent, a fair system… if it wasn’t an op-out one. The rules don’t seem to apply to people who died before the system was put in place - ruling impending - which explains the presence of a holographic Martin Scorcese at the premiere. Still, you have a sense that regardless of the legality of the tool, those company would try to find a way to use it anyway…
The criticism goes even clearer with the reveal of the activists’ manifesto: the technological advancement is not the problem, capital endeavours are - butchering, making almost a mockery of creativity with their generated “work”.
On the other hand, the game does not shy away from critiquing the actions of the activist group, showing that the sabotage of the premiere would not only shed more light on the movie, but ensuring its popularity at the box office - people who might not have cared about would come in flock out of spite. Activism is hard: there is no one way of doing things, actions can backfire, and you could be going against organism so large your actions might not even make waves or get you quite a bit of retaliation. Replaying the game to see the different option of that choice may hammer on this aspect…
With its title reminiscing of the Blade Runner sequel title, or its dark and gritty UI (a bit à-la Metal Gear Solid - very very cool), and the messages above, the game gave me vibes of Paul Verhoeven movies.
Goncharov is a fairly short stylised kinetic piece, presenting itself as an adaptation of the “original” movie, through snippets of different critical scenes, as defined in the meme lore. Though, you could play the scenes chaotically, by doing a random order for examples, the story is best enjoyed when followed chronologically.
Above a usually animated background, dialog boxes pop up on the screen, typing out descriptions of the scene or the dialogue between characters. Locations, time and present actors are visualised through small screenshots - the character sprites do not change from scene to scenes, so it is easy to recognise who is who.
Depending on your setup, the animated background and text may lag.
A few scenes in, you get the sense that something is not quite right. Maybe it is because each scenes have very few words, or because they lack connection between each other. Their succession from the listed menu makes sense, but it is clear there are gaps between each scene. Or it could simply be the game trying to send you off track, like any good intrigue movie: nothing is truly as it seems.
While the end scene is quite something, the truly interesting part of the game, in my opinion, is when the credits roll. We sort of leave the realm of the movie and the canon, to have a more… meta discussion. Some criticism mentioned above, as well as potential failings of both the game itself and the meme at large, are discussed through two viewers of the movie you just experienced through the scenes. These criticism, from the lack of coherence to the missing actions, are linked to discourse that happened around the meme (though in-game, the discourse is about the movie).
You could take this final conversation at face-value: two friends watching a movie and discussing it when it ends. Or you could look at is as a discussion of the strange phenomenon that was Goncharov - the meme. Taking the internet by storm, it spread without rhyme or reason, with many users contradicting each other with sequencing, lore, or details, as they made up their version of the fake movie. As a collective, we all made the “movie” happen, each adding a scene or lore, trying to make our voice heard through the sea of creators participating. Maybe we were all Matteo, in a way, directors of Goncharov.
Like other entries in the jam, Goncharov: Coda takes the movie-making approach to the Goncharov mythos, where you play as an actor in a “contemporary remake of the film”. Playing as either Andrej or Sofia, the story will take you through the re-enactment of relevant scenes, where you can showcase your wits and line delivery. After all, you are here to honour an unprecedented legacy…
The game starts with the first table read of the screenplay, introducing the team working on the remake - many of the characters having funny pun-y names (especially the director’s name). It is at this point you get to choose which path to act (Sofia or Andrei, supporting roles), and where the first scene sets off.
Though you have two distinct paths, the game is built around bottlenecks. Both paths will share scenes (first and last, disregarding some variation), and out-of-character beats (in-between shooting scenes). The central part, however, is highly dependent on the path chosen, as each is set in a different location, follows a different group of characters, and focuses on different themes (or take on the theme).
The played scenes follow the “canonical” sequence of the “movie”. Starting with the Goncharov’s imminent arrival in Naples, the play indicates the start of new relationships (namely between Sofia and Katya), hints at a change in relationships (Goncharov and Katya), and questions other relationships (Goncharov and Andrei). The middle scenes will continue with this theme of relationships, focusing on how these relationship can also change a person (important especially for Goncharov and Katya), as well as hinting at the culminating fight up ahead. It all ends with the infamous bridge scene, the showdown to end all showdown - I did find that scene confusing, I think there are some flashforwards(?), it’s pretty chaotic.
Another important theme hammered on from the start is the one of choices, or lack thereof. The director of the movie makes a point to remind the player to “Make. Meaningful. Choices” at the start, when improvising certain lines. The middle scenes interactions between Katya and Sofia or between Andrei and Goncharov also emphasise on the choices we make, where they lead us, and the consequences of those choices. Sofia reminds us that choices can set us free, while Andrei will show that other factors, like loyalty, will force our choices to entrap us. It is interesting to see that our choices can be both meaningful and inconsequential to the story.
While it seems like the game is a very serious and maybe dark affair, the game is nothing but. I already mentioned the pun-y names at the start, but the humour doesn’t stop there. It also appears in lines to choose from, with funny one-liners; sarcastic descriptions of locations, reminding you that you are totes still filming the thing; or the almost deranged behaviour of some characters, the director especially had Dean Pelton (Community) vibe. Even the final passage, which is a bit sad when you think about it, was quite funny. I was chuckling throughout the game.
A final point should be spent on the care spent on the UI of the game. Looking like a movie script sitting on a table, with the Do Not Distribute warning at the top, the UI will use screenplay formatting to distinguish between reality and the played scenes. It even goes further as highlighting the actions and lines of the character you are playing (like with a real screenplay) - it must have been a pain to handle all those indents… The UI is pretty smooth to use, especially in fullscreen.
Told from the point-of-view of Sofia, Someone Else’s Story takes a look at the start of the relationship between two side characters: Sofia and Katya, two women linked to big characters whose actions will drive the “story”'s plot. Spanning a conversation, you were tasked to extract information from the lovely newcomer. Will you managed without her noticing?
Someone Else’s Story is a fairly short game mixing choices, to drive the conversation forward, and hypertext*, to provide additional contextual information to the scene or about Sofia’s state of mind. Each choice provide variation in the next screen, with some even adding an option to the choice-list. The combination of all choices made throughout the game will determine how the conversation between you and Katya ends.
To get information from Katya, you must ask the right questions, in the correct manner. Though you have multiple choice available to you, from flirty to pushy, the type of questions asked may tick Katya that something is up, or may just confuse her. She will comment on the matter, before ending the conversation and leaving for the night. You do not learn, however, whether how successful you were at your task. Though, as Katya warns, when one is this expendable, does it truly matter?
(kinda yes… i always want to know how well i did.)
The game raises an interesting point, hinted by its title. Though you are the main character of this game, this short story, Katya may tell you that you are just a pawn in someone else’s story. You may drive the plot in this beat, but someone - your boss - is pushing you to this point in time, requesting things from you to further his story. You may down the line have a relationship with Katya (not in-game), but it will still be framed around other more important players - your struggles being a continuation of theirs.
Still, the illusion of agency still hods, even after replays. You may not be a major player, but the game makes you feel like your actions actually matter in this story, that they actually may change the course of the night. Even if, ultimately, it won’t - Katya will always try to change the subject, or look at her watch, signalling the end of the conversation. Your efforts don’t feel in vain.
While the game will mention a few important characters to the main lore or themes, the strongest one emanating from this entry is the concept of time. You are limited in time to find information for your boss about Goncharov before he potentially makes a move, to extract information from Katya during the party, before time inevitably cuts your effort short - when the watch strikes “twelve”. But there is maybe a more ominous limitation from Katya’s final remark: the time left before you will get hurt (if you continue snooping, that is).
I think this line summarises the game best: Your name is Goncharov. You are fifteen years old, and today is your first day of mafia school. G-TMHDS is a very short datim-sim game, dabbling with the Goncharov “lore”. Dipped in humour and sarcasm, the game gives the player a short introduction of the main players of the “movie” and their relationship to one another… if this was a Highschool AU.
Due to its short length, the game feels more of an introduction to a larger dating-sim, rather than a fully rounded story. You wake up, get ready for school, meet up with a friend (Joe), and try to talk to your crush (Katya) and be jealous of her friend (Sofia), before the game ends with a hint of a dark attraction (Andrej). There are a few choices throughout the story, each giving some humourous variation (try ditching school).
From the start, it is clear the game is not to be taken seriously. It will treat your not-so-smart question with disdain, and your doubt with deprecation - an attitude many would have towards teenagers or very naive individuals. The narrator is not afraid to call you out for stupid decisions (or as-stupid thoughts about doing something). [SPOILER]“Teresa Maria, Goncharov, don’t be such a square.”[/SPOILER] had me wheezing.
Honestly, I still haven’t decided whether this was meant as a parody of the meme or of the highschool dating-sim genre. It makes fun of both mafia tropes and of those dating-sim (as much as it can with the limited passages), juggling between the two without missing a beat. While reading through it, it reminded me of that KFC dating sim game from a few years back - I Love You, Colonel Sanders! - it is of the same tone: frivolous, humourous, and plain stupid (the hahaha this is so dumb kind). It just hits all the right notes.
I think this game might work even better in a VN form…
While this was probably one of the shortest entry of the Single Choice Jam, its subject matter has a special place in my heart (having been part of the Goncharov craze). And, following in those footsteps, the game took its own part of the canon, recreating the setting for the confrontation between Goncharov and Andrej.
To save the most precious thing in his life Goncharov made a deal, one which would involve betraying his friend. You choice here is to either follow through with this plan, or double-cross the dealing party. Which ever option you choose, the scene ends abruptly. But the consequences… they wait for no one.
Though the game is very short, I did enjoy the way the scene was set - in some sort of a Previously in Goncharov serialised way. It gave the fairly intricate (overall non-canon) story some touch of humour.
This was a treat.
This last-submitted parser for the jam is a bit of an intricate puzzle, requiring the player to read the prompts very carefully to find the solution… or they will be yoinked back to the start. The game is built in one room, where the player can do different action in hopes to reach the end - a sort of Aisle meets escape room, where there is only one true action to solve the puzzle.
And so, you are an investigator (maybe?) stuck in some sort of loop (if you could remember why you are here, it would be greeeaaat), in a subway station, next to a vending machine, surrounded by some critters… and plagued by very strange and prophetic dreams (you really should take note of those).
The twist/explanation of the ending is kind of nonsensical and very trippy, very on point from the rest of the game. It is both confusing and hilarious. I’m glad I played this last.
Remembrance is an emotionally charged entry, which follows the player getting ready to put their mother’s ashes to rest. The trip allowing only limited amount of luggage, you can only choose one keepsake.
The entry deals with the themes of death and grief with delicate words, showing the good the bad and the ugly of going through the things that mattered and the memories linked to them. Though you have a choice, there is no wrong or right options there. All are important pieces of yourself, all matter.
I think I liked the box of recipe the best out of all objects. The connection between your mother and yourself felt the strongest and most emotional - I think I related to it the most. I liked the little nod of Jewish traditions hinted in there too, and the want to continue those traditions, in a way or another…
It is a powerful piece that left me without many words when the game ended.
In this short game, you are task to find not who but what has been stolen from your client. Following a party where many artists were invited, including a known thief (a sort of Arsène Lupin gender-swap meets art forger), the hosting couple found a note from said thief, a momento left behind to replace what had been taken.
But nothing looks out of place…
This was a cute moment, with some humourous jokes, and - like the author admits - feels at time a bit incomplete/rushed. I wouldn’t say no to a longer version of this game, maybe in an episodic form with different cases, and showing a bit more the investigators’ relationship.
This entry is the last Visual Novel submitted to the Single Choice Jam, and quite a visual polished one at that. Starting with a short game trailer, you are introduced to two friends excited by the re-print of cards they used to have when they were kids. Especially the very rare print of the Blade of the Overlord, a highly stylised card in an alien-like font.
In three act, the game encapsulates the nostalgia around card games like Magic the Gathering or Pokemon, and all the shenanigans around it - the special editions, misprints, the weird rules on the cards, the seedy players, the hours spent around the table opening packs and playing them, or the rich collectors who will spend thousands on the rare stuff (that was a fun nod at current event, with Post Malone buying an MGT card for $2mil).
I liked the different approach the characters have towards the game, with the one who buys into the hype and would spend all their money to get the rare cards; the one who is the opposite, only buying to build up a playing deck; and the one who is realistic about their situation, but still misses owning some specific basic cards from their childhood. The arguments set forwards may affect what choice you pick at the end, both being neither good nor bad - just very realistic.
This felt like opening a time capsule and reminiscing about the good and the bad old times…
As the months pass and people seem to move on from the health crisis that changed the lives of millions, the early days of the pandemic seem like a distant mirage of a time. Stuck at home (some of us), away from loved ones, crushed under the uncertainty of recovery… there was a lot do deal with. And this entry manages to capture a raw snippet of those early days, when there was more uncertainty about the virus and how to deal with it than known knowledge.
Set in the Pageant universe as some sort of sequel, we catch up with Karen, who obviously is not handling being cooked up at home well. From her characterisation in the previous installments, this truly feels like the correct continuation of her personality: still depressed, still a mess, still unable to communicate her feelings (or just period).
Unable to sleep, she meets up with Emily, her somewhat-girlfriend-but-maybe-not-really - Karen is always questioning labels when it comes to her relationship with others (case and point: Miri). Even with Emily’s reassurance, Karen does not shy away from falling into unhealthy choices (well, you can’t affect that part of the story). Honestly, she’s a bit of a dick there.
I’ve also noticed how similar Karen and Em are, especially when Em unloaded her worries about relationships in general, the want to both be present around people and disappear without leaving a trace, or struggling with her feelings at time and what they mean. It is interestingly very similar to what is expressed from Karen throughout the text, though Em handles it probably more healthy by actually communicating all of this.
Removing player agency from the game is not new in Autumn’s Games, often used to depict the character’s inability to perform a certain task, whether it be because of external forces (e.g. friend is asleep), physical health (e.g. can’t hug your girlfriend during a pandemic), or mental reasons (i.e. Karen is a mess) - with those reasons often styled in a self-deprecating manner (a Karen’s guarantee).
Half-way through the game, there is an interesting point made about choices. While you only have a small choice at the end, the story refers quite a bit to past actions, and how they affected others. There is a heavy sense of regret from having done some actions or failed to do those, with hindsight and time adding onto those guilty feelings. It feels so… real, and human, and it hurts.
There’s always an age when kids will start pushing boundaries with their parents, objecting to their decision or sneakily do what they are not supposed to. And there are often other nosey adults who will lecture those kids, even if they are not related…
From this generic setting, you must suffer through the dispensed morals of said adult who caught you speed-reading (reading without buying) a magazine. But the ordeal can pass through quickly and without much yelling… if your timing is just right.
See, the old man lecturing you has a lot to say to you, about what’s morally correct, and how should kids behave, shaming you for not behaving properly (you seemed to be just a regular kid). Click too early on the response, and you will be berated for cutting him off; too late*, and the scolding will be about not paying attention. If your timing is just right (there is a visual indicator) and let the man finish his moralistic monologue, he will let you move on with your day.
While this is a fun gameplay, my issue was with the timer. It is way too fast to be able to read anything. Even being able to read pretty fast usually, it was even hard to scan through the text before the timer runs out, and worse still with the latter longer morals. Your eyes just focus on the right moment to click the response, missing the rest. I had to open the source code for this part…
I guess it makes sense, context-wise, to have such short timer. You’re a child, and moralistic monologues are a drag - the preachiness of things, ugh… - you’d rather just uh-huh the adult until they leave. But as a player, it’s not very satisfying…
I will say it outright: this fantasy entry was an absolute delight to play. You are an inexperienced thief breaking in the word possible place one could think of: a witch’s house. But that doesn’t stop you - you will take something from the house before you are found out!
A list of options are presented to you, each leading you to a different ending. I recommend going from bottom to top for the most funny sequence. Each ending is different, some where you will succeed, some where you will absolutely fail, all very funny.
Speaking of the humour, it felt very Terry Pratchett-y to me, from the wittiness to the sarcasm, and even the moral behind it. Every passage has some quirkiness of them, each flowing from one to the next. I enjoyed it a lot!
I went into this entry completely blind (did not read the blurb) and came out holding my side from laughing to hard.
Go play it :P
This entry is a companion piece to "forever, an echo", a short game submitted to the Neo Twiny Jam, a sort of opposite point-of-view to the original piece.
It is an endless fight, an unwinnable fight, one your enemy will always come out victorious. But, you never despair. No matter the version of yourself, no matter your weakened state, you will continue to fight. You will always come back, ready to fight.
Unlike the doomed perspective of the other game, this one screams resistance, and hope. You may not win now, but one day you might. You will never surrender yourself, your soul, your everything to your enemy.
A good opposite to the other piece.
This game is a remake of Crawl Back to Me from the same author, but in a visual novel form. You play as Alastair, a gallant knight who recently lost his wife, Cassandra, in an accident while away. Filled with grief, you would do anything to speak to your wife one last time, hoping it will help you move on. Incidentally, Cassandra left you instructions to help your quest.
The story might be a bit cliché, and the twist a bit too obvious, but it works quite well as a visual novel, with the clunky sprites reminiscent of old RPG dungeon crawlers games with all its campiness. I did enjoy the wide range of endings from the final choice, with the moderately neutral ending probably being my favourite out of all of them.
Orbiting around the largest moon of our solar system, your ship is in a dire situation, and you are no better. Waking up with missing memory, and no way to get it back, you must find what happened to your ship… and how to get out of it before it is too late!
With choice options formatted like parsers, with the trusty > before the text, or even behaving like one, when looking at the actions (examine, move to a different room, interact with…), the game still restrict you in what you can actually do, giving you humourous reasons to why you can’t do a certain action (YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO KNOW). Until the final show down…
This final part is actually quite interesting in terms of gameplay, giving you the option to a limited NewGame+ after your choice. I highly recommend to play through it all, as it will provide even more context to how you arrived to this situation, why you got there, and maybe even find a way to save yourself.
Some locked actions on that screen only become available if you perform another one before the reboot, giving you multiple multiple opportunities to reach a satisfying end. It was fun to piece the whole backstory together from the little bits and pieces each option provided.
I’ve quite enjoyed my time on the ship but I’ll let the fighting the cultist mecha dragon to another player now…
In a retro black and white UI, Tauvigjuaq send up into a post-nuclear winter future, following a small community of nomads trying to survive the winter, away from the rest of civilisation. Though your life is harsh, it is about to get even harder when the news of the matriarch’s passing reaches the camp. Assured it was foul play, you are tasked to investigate.
The game is fairly short and linear, with the choice being expectedly accusing the potential murderer. But before this penultimate task, you will come across suspicious individuals, wonky alibis, nonsensical accusations, worrying news, and forbidden objects. It is your job to piece the events together correctly.
I’d love to say my suspicions were right, but I just failed completely…
I found the choice options quite interesting. Not because you could accuse yourself, but also because the game delve into the consequences of the accusation for yourself, and most importantly the tribe. Different endings are included in the game, some pretty negatives, some more positive, and some… well…
It was nice to have a button to go back to the final choice without having to go through the whole story again. Especially to check out the other endings. The illustrations and patterned background helped enhance the vibe of the game as well.
Another Round is by far the chunkiest entry of the Single Choice Jam, clocking over 25k words. Set in a fantastical world where demons and humans coexist, you are Maddie, a probably depressed, definitely broken-hearted, lesbian drowning her sorrow at the Haven bar, trying failing to ignore her ex. But, you are also clearly not over her…
The game has an interesting gameplay: stuck with only one choice, it smartly uses a restart mechanism to both let you every aspect of the story and advance it (restarting felt a bit loopy/groundhog-y, I digged it!). Each start felt a bit eerie, as things both stayed the same and were just different enough to realise something was not… quite right. Every round culminates to THE choice. And it hits every. single. time.
I thought the story discussed a particularly interesting topic throughout the game: relationships, the labels of those relationships, and the expectations around them. Can we really think of relationships are purely transactional when removing all the mushy feelings that come with it? Should we try to change ourselves to fit the mold set by the other, even if it hurts us? Should we have expectations from the other and how to communicate them? How much of yourself do you lose in a relationship? How much of yourself should your refuse to give up?
There is honestly a nice and believable progression during the game, of the character realising how wrong things actually were, how mistaken her actions were and how hurtful they made her then-other half. It is not just communicated through dialogue between the player and her ex or her friend, but also through her snarky thoughts, disassociating daydreaming. Bits and pieces are dripped on the page, slowly painting a truthful picture of reality.
I particularly enjoyed the earnestness of Maddie, in wanting to ensure the safety of her ex. Though her action are more than flawed, disregarding almost the agency of the other woman, you can’t help but root for her. Maybe not to rekindle the relationship, but save her friend. The different path of actions taken between rounds and their sequences were particularly satisfying.
This was a pretty well rounded game all and all!
While one the short side, this parser is still much longer than its title promises. Set somewhat like an escape room, you must find three words to complete the simulation and escape a doorless room. Easy, right? Well… no. You can only do one action before the simulation ends and you need to reboot it.
Forced to replay the game until you find all elements to complete the puzzle, the game forces you to think about your previous action, as it does not track it on screen. You can look at different objects around the room, as well as manipulating them to discover the room’s secrets. But remember, the room resets when the simulation ends!
The Sysiphian gameplay is quite interesting and pretty smart. It really makes you think about the information you have on the screen before you have to reload the game. Examining every single element in the room will give you and idea of what you can interact with… and most importantly how. The hints parsed throughout the rooms are quite cleverly done (though it took me a while to find some of them - thank you Help for putting me out of my misery). The first word is probably the easiest to find, and as soon as you understand the logic in it, the other needed words will follow quite easily (or go check the help section, like I did :P )
It is a very neat small parser experience, and I would recommend to anyone with 30min to spare.
The trolley problem is as old as… well the invention of the trolley. And has plagued everyone with its ethical conundrum: do you act and change its trajectory, or will your inaction act for you? There have been hundreds and maybe thousands of iteration of this problem, with different amount of people on the tracks, the kinds of person on the tracks, animation instead of humans, close family members specifically… The possibility is essentially endless.
However, this might be the first time I’ve seen someone looking at what happens after the lever is pulled. What does your conscience say about this act/inaction? Are there consequences? Is pulling the lever actually the path of least destruction? Should we actually all pull the lever?
TTPP tries to answer these questions in a humourous manner, linking unlikely accidents to an already unlikely event. (I mean who has to handle trolley courses like this…). The consequences are so dire, you may have had triggered WWIII… Think about what you’ve done!
Though, one could argue the game is simply mocking this moral disagreement (why are we forced to choose between a utilitarian answer to save the many or refusing to participate in an already morally wrong situation? who are we to decide how worthy a human life is?).
Having played this author’s Neo Twiny entry, I was really looking forward to reviewing this one. And it was as expected: humourous, kind of campy, and a bit of a fun time.
One downside for me: after the choice, the text appeared a bit too fast, and the colour changed quite abruptly between screens, not a comfortable experience.
In this cinematic VN, you are Player, a drunkard jazz piano player stuck in Limbo, drinking your days away. Paired with three other stuck souls, Buddy, Big, and Chip, you must put on a show to earn your deliverance. One small problem… If you mess up, you will spend eternity in an endless pit… and Buddy is at best a mediocre saxophone player.
At the eleventh hour, you are face with a choice: save yourself but at a cost, or reject change and stay in Limbo forever.
The story kind of reminded me of Grim Fandango, with the stuck souls trying to reach a peaceful state, and you in the middle, trying to find your way. But unlike out favourite skeleton, our job is to play jazz, not sell packages to paradise. And you are riddled with guilt over what happened around your death.
The consequences of the choice might feel quite expected by the time you get to it. But it still holds its emotional weight - I don’t really want to spoil the twists. Though, without its impressive UI and formatting, it might not have.
I think I will end this review on what is probably the most impressive aspect of this game: how polish it is. From the choice of sound, to the sprites, from the formatting of the text to the sequence of screens, the game screams I have been worked on for days and every single bit of code has been checked and tested so many times my devs can’t take it anymore. Essentially the whole vibe is on point!
An excellent collaborative entry.
We all know the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus: man goes to rescue woman, king of the underworld agrees under conditions, rules are broken, everyone is devastated. But, what happens after? And what would have happened if Orpheus hadn’t turned back?
This author has an answer: it is so very wrong. No matter your choice, no matter whether you follow the original story or take your own path, it will not be what you expect. Either way is the stuff of nightmares. It is really gross.
And it makes the myth even more tragic than it already is. Those epics transcribed long ago don’t really take into account all the nitty and gritty of everyday life, or what would happen if you couldn’t die (or if you did).
The use of click-to-reveal the next block increases the anticipation of what is to come. And even as you enter the most disturbing part, you can’t really look away. You have to click until you reach the end. You have to know the end.
This is surely the shortest entry of the jam. Composed 4(well 6) lines about drinking alone. There is a choice to reveal the last two line. It is quite poetic*, but behind the imagery I am not sure I found its meaning.
Ever met a drink or a food that could talk to you while you were ingesting it? Me either… but I feel like if I were at a low point in my life, I too would want a friendly ear (or well, voice) keeping me company and maybe even helping me through things. Because sometimes it’s just easier to talk to an inanimate object than unload your feeling onto another being.
But this soda is even more special: it is not only sentient, it can also remember thoughts and memories of people who drank soda before. Like your brother at his seventh birthday party, or you mother throughout her life (even though she claimed to hate them). Able to retell those memories to you (old or new), Soda tries to bring you comfort through what seems to be a hard time. Remind you you are not completely alone.
Like soda, the entry is quite the saccharine coating over relatively darker themes, enhancing the contrasts between elements. Soda is cheery while you are a bit morose. It reminds you of better time when currently… it’s really not great. It engages with you in ways you may not have been in a while (was there a hint of Covid in there?). The whole thing is very sweet.
As his second entry in the Single Choice Jam, Andrew proposes a maths/logical puzzle with switches. The Earth is set for destruction, but the Galaxy granted the poor human solace if they managed to disarm some bombs. One wrong flick and…
Back to the setting, the premise kind of reminded me of those sci-fi story like HHGG, where Earth is just inconsequential in the eye of the Galaxy, a backward planet in the way of advancement… It’s always a riot when those stories are used, mirroring the aliens’ view on Humans as we might be doing towards other species on Earth. Often makes me giggle a bit (and this entry was no exception!).
But the most important aspect of this game is its gameplay: the switch puzzle. With a certain mathematical pattern (shudders), you must disarm three bombs: one with two switches, one with three, and a last one with… four. Your character technically disarms a load more, but as a player you don’t! (hurray!)
The puzzle itself is intriguing, as it is not one you’d expect (like the Wolf/Goat/Food river cross, or get 1L of water from three containers), and solving it can be fun. But the novelty also runs off pretty quickly, due to the repetitiveness of the task and the length of the pattern. It feels pretty grindy by the last bomb.
The author indicated that the work was not complete, missing some levels and some QoL features. I hope they consider adding some more writing to pad around the puzzles a little.
This French entry (one of two for the Single Choice Jam) digitalised and gamified Le Dodéchédron de Fortune, a 13th century book of fortune in verses, categorised by themes, and answering all the existential questions you may have. This neat parlour trick (the 8-ball of its time) required only a d12 and flipping to the right page to know whether your child would find love or be blessed with a broken heart, whether they would have a long or healthy life or spend the little days they had left in pain… and so on, and so forth.
Honestly, it is fun to go through the different categories of questions (click the cute arrows by the header) and create pretend scenario in my head where I would need certain kind of fortune. There were 72 questions to choose from… so many RP possibilities there. Then be shocked when the fortune would derail my fake plans or dramatically “faint” when the gods blessed me with happiness. And you can’t go back and reroll the dice, once cast it will not change the fortune (even if you click on return until you get to the title page).
I really enjoy silly games with no real consequences or point. Just some pure silly fun. And well… the UI is absolutely gorgeous*!
The author indicated that they were planning to add onto the entry, by including the missing 40+ questions from the current entries, add a cheat mode to change the dice result, or a current-day French translation for some of the fortune. I think I would add to that list a way to return to the question list without having to reload the game and click the category name until the right one is found (is that the cheat mode they were planning maybe?).
It’s neat that old pieces are being used in IF and transformed in fun ways to bring past to the present. Anyway… I’m going to re-roll the dice again, I need that good fortune!
This is a kinetic entry, with indulgent luscious and delicious prose - a Sophia staple - based on the lore of a specific Fallen London storyline. While it may be useful to know the particulars of the specific storyline, this is not required to enjoy the game as a whole.
As usual, do not be fooled by the bright and cheery UI, the game is not light-hearted one, far from it. The prose hints at something having happened to you, changing who you are and how you behave in this world, and how others behave towards you. Something quite dark, something that changes the course of a life.
But while the story is about you, somewhat (a recluse, probably depressed, or at least disoriented), it seems to be more about your husband. Your ever-loving husband that seemed to have been through hell and back to bring your back, the one who may have brushed his morals and do the unthinkable to have you in his arms again. There is a mix of relief, and guilt, and worry sprinkled through his words. He has you back, but at what cost!
I would honestly play a prequel to this game written by Sophia, whether or not it follows the OG Fallen London storyline or not.
A being engages with you, creating a secure connection… well trying to. Something is chasing them through the network, trying to take them down (and maybe you to?). You need to engage is a diagnosis to ensure the line stays secure, or all will be lost.
This being is an AI trying to run from its creator, using you as the middleman to gain freedom. You can help them by following their instruction to the letter, or go against them and foil their plan*.
There is a question about consciousness and where should we draw the line on AI being conscious or behaving like us human would. Do we follow Descartes’s philosophy Je pense, donc je suis or do we have further benchmarks, with doubts or other feelings, or something else for a consciousness to be well… conscious?
But the story goes over this part fairly quickly, brushing upon it rather than diving into the ethical and philosophical questions on the topic. The AI claims they are a conscious being and that’s it, deal with it.
We’ve all been stuck in one of those dinners, the one you don’t want to be at but have to, the one where the host mainly organised it to show off, the one where guests came there to make themselves look better than the rest, the one where snide comments are thrown left and right… and the food? well… usually not worth it…
You really want to leave but can’t really, not for a while. You could participate more, but it would mean pretending to be someone you are not (like a man or a meat eater), and that’s exhausting. So you quietly sit through and maybe mumble a few words, or clench your jaw when an aunt tells you your degree is probably useless, or an uncle reminds you never to trust [insert minority/other ethnic group]. Or maybe you just listen, drifting your thoughts somewhere else, or finding refuge on your phone for a while.
Even through this very linear parser, and the short prose, this game manages to encapsulate all these murky feelings of uncomfortableness, stress, and exhaustion. The error messages when trying to engage with others or yourself or the meal is humourous, even if at time self-deprecating (I saw the influence of the Pageantverse in there too). There is not much to do, mainly because you don’t want to do much as the character either…
And this worked quite well as the author’s first try in parser and Inform!
A restless night, a spotted sleep, and strange and almost non-sensical dreams. That is what this self described Twine Dream Simulator is all about.
This entry is very strange. At first glance, it seemed to me like this was some sort of nonsensical snippets grouped together for not reason. Then I thought I could link some of them together through names or recurring characters or setting. And finally… I just realised it I was just completely and utterly confused and gave up. Those are just dreams within dreams, tired half-thoughts, and weird brain patterns.
I guess if you read between the lines you could see some snippets of real life hidden behind a heavy coating of fantasy, or mythology, or just surrealist absurdism. Thoughts that take space in your brain, and take focus during dreams. Things like being late on bills, the end of relationships, nightmare as kids, fights, meeting a therapist… but you really need to push aside the heavy prose to find that - the snippets of memories almost drown in it.
At the end, I wondered if the sleeping character was in a mental institute (or maybe it had been?), or if this whole thing was a metaphor for PPD (considering the end?), or these dreams were shared between multiple people (which would make thing so much more confusing…).
While it does do a good job at bringing to life how strange, and vivid (almost graphic), and nonsensical, and frightening, dreams and sleep could be… I kinda got bored and tired halfway through.
And this is not a short game! It took me 2 good hours to go through it all…
There are 45 snippets inside the game, with thick flowery (almost pedantic) prose layered with metaphors and imageries. I’ve had nights like those where I kept waking up from dreams… but 45 different times is a lot - too much… Cutting it down maybe to 5 or so per playthrough would have helped with the pacing… It really is a lot.
Another thing that didn’t help was not being able to track what had been visited previously. With 45 different entries… I took a screenshot of all the links available and crossed them down one by one. A colour change on the link (or the underline) would have made this so much nicer as a player.
Unlike most entries in the Single Choice Jam, Mirror Girl offers the player the choice at the start of the game. A binary choice before you are even introduced to its context or potential consequences. It makes for an intriguing experiment, a bit of an anxious one as a player.
The rest of the game is fairly short, only a handful of passages, providing snippets into the life of a young girl with a strange ability. Hidden at first, and then (ab)used, the girl resigns to her role, as no alternative path is offered to her. She does not have a choice. She never truly had a choice. Children rarely do have those choices…
I think a detrimental aspect of this entry is its reveal at the end of the playthrough. It honestly didn’t make me want to play again knowing that. It think it would have been more powerful if the reveal happened during of after a second playthrough (as in visiting the other path).
While I thought there should be a bit more contrast in the colour of the links, I thought the addition of illustrations for both the first and last screen were pretty cute. And also a bit sad. Fits with the game quite well on that aspect.
My first thought after playing this game was: “what the frick did I read?” Then: “I wonder what the other soda do…” And finally: “Is this like… someone’s brain spiralling and using the mundane choice of a drink as a way to ground themselves?” I still had to play the game a few times to get to that point… And I sill don’t think I grasped all of the subtleties… I think.
The author mentioned being inspired my multiple works, one of which I actually recognised: Computerfriend. And I could see how: in the stylistic and formatting choices, or the almost nonsensical train of thoughts, and the grounding mechanism… Though I did find this piece easier to digest, as it deals more with a sort of strange meditation than a mental health crisis (or maybe it does actually, just differently?).
Within the rambling of thoughts, the author discusses the path that led you to this moment (and the paths that didn’t or could be? Still confused on that) and what it all means. It questions the futility of wanting to link all choices, events and thoughts, as some sort of random occurrence, and sheds light on the insignificant moments and how it can change the trajectory of a life.
The game is also somewhat meta with the theme of choices. Not only does it give you a choice by the end (a very mundane one), but the topic of choices themselves. How some will matter and some won’t (who gets to decide one is or is not?), how some will be connected to others, or have consequences for others, or run in parallel to others… Choices is sort of a constant in our lives, and whether we realise or not, we constantly make choices… Only in games can you only have one.
I think this was the first time I’ve ever encountered a kinetic parser. Following the Single Choice rules, you can only do one specific action at a time before the story ends. You go through two “rooms” and do a few different actions, like looking around you, picking up some items, and move some place else. There is only one path and one path only.
It is not just the game railroading you into this one path (you truly do not seem to have a choice), the text provides you with the action you need to write next to advance the story. There is no guesswork, no puzzle, no thinking. Which means, the focus is on the text alone…
The entry calls itself a remake of a previous game of the author. While it provides some missing information for The Last Notebook (all those games are connected), it also gives very little. Your home life is really not great; so one day, after another altercation, you decide to run away. You look around your room, check yourself, get a few supplies and you are out the window. Some action descriptions are a bit confusing, and there isn’t much more than what’s on the screen.
It would be interesting to see more kinetic parser pieces, but I don’t think this one’s implementation puts that mechanism to a good light.
I like things with logics and rules, and doing things strategically, so you’d think chess should be right up my alley. But nope… the rules enter in one ear and leaves the other. And thinking of what my opponent could do just… turns me into a deer in headlight.
BUT… while chess if a major component of this game, it doesn’t asks you to play an actual chess game, but a more logical puzzle where there is only really one answer. Framed in a medieval/fantasy setting, you are a messenger on your trusty horse, ordered to share your message to every village in the region. But, in order to avoid getting caught, you cannot take the same path or visit the same place twice.
The games prompts you with two difficulty modes (hard/normal) and three types of play. You must complete the latter to end the game (the game returns to the play screed to pick the next one to complete*). You are them prompted with a chess board. When the puzzle is completed, the game tells you how long you took to do so (my record: 135s on normal).
Even though there are technically multiple square you could land on at ever turn, the game only lets you click on one. If you are playing on the normal mode, the moves are highlighted for you, making it easier to click on the correct; on hard, you just have your trusty steed and your sword (mouse) to go on.
This was fun, even if a bit… grindy by the end. The more you advance, the clearer it is which block to pick (there are only so many squares left). I think it could have worked just fine with the two first modes. The mirror mode was too similar to the corner one in my opinion.
A nice short lesson in Knight use. But I’m still not going to touch a chess board, not even to save my life…
Before you is a seemingly neverending tower, a mark of a different time, rising up the the heavens. Few can claim they’ve reached its top and stood on its final platform. And by golly, you will be one of them!
That is… if you climb up the right path… and don’t fall…
Through randomly displayed storylets, the game will take you on this impossible climb - a Daedalus climb… or maybe Icarus one if chance is not by your side. Those tit bits are quite varied, from finding nests of birds, empty offices, and many failed climbing attempts, along the way - sometimes you even get a treat (item)!. And since they will randomly appear, not one climb will ever be the same.
Halfway through the climb, I wondered if I would ever reach the top (spoiler: you eventually do), as well as the futility of the climb. What will you achieve when you do? Is there truly something that will change your life? Or will you realise that all you needed was on the ground? Why climb this Babelian tower, riddled with remnants of past and forgotten times?
The game kind of reminded me of TTRPG sessions, with the Herculean quest, the journey meeting others and finding items, and the visual descriptions found in the writing, or the randomness aspect from those darn dice rolls.
While a neat experience, it sometimes felt a bit grindy when having to climb the tower again (but I’ve also felt this way with those RPG games too).
I think what caught my eye the most was the very sleek UI of the game, with the text cards of previous passages stacking on top of one another (hover over them, btw!) or the inventory pouch displaying your items (some angles were a tad difficult to read though). Having both the settings and restart button being so custom was a nice touch too! I especially liked the background changing as you go up the tower… the stack, on the other hand, made me a bit height sick…
Your relationship with your husband is at best rocky, and at worst… Tonight won’t be as different, and yet, nothing will ever be the same. To please your husband, you’ve tweaked your chimichurri dressing to his taste… well, for your sake. Will you obediently serve him his dinner? Or give him a piece of your mind?
The writing does not shy away from violence, far from it. It will list the nitty gritty details of the offences, from the little ticks to plain and simple assaults. Your husband is not a good man, not just breaking his marriage vows, but breaking you as well. Really, this game is not for the faint of hearts!
And don’t think this will be a painful run-of-the-meal story. You did tweak the recipe. You’ve been pushed past your limits. And, when you think you got all figured it out… did you really?
Part of me really want to spoil it… I saw coming maybe one of the twist for one of the choice, but definitely not the others.
I think for me, one little downside that broke my immersion, was the way-too-youthful visual of the husband. Though built like a brick, and having a bit of the chav haircut, the man looked barely 20 in my eyes. Not that young people can’t do what’s being described in this game, I think if he had been aged a biiiit more, it wouldn’t have been as distracting.
But this is mainly my only complaint on the visual. The choice of animating certain text, or changing its colour, or even changing the focus of the different element on the screen, gave the game a more cinematic vibe.
Quite well rounded short game. I will definitely not play it again. Too gruesome.
Invited to a fancy party, you are given the opportunity to take part in a strange game. One you would refuse, but which could award you the greatest of prizes… if you are hungry enough for it. A one-of-a-kind watch that can grant you the unimaginable. A watch that, according to your host, chooses its winner.
If I am being coy about what it does, it is because it is essentially the twist of the game. The text hints at the reason for the presence of each guest (leaving yours up in the air), a reason for why they would want the prize. It raises an interesting question about free will and its consequences, the guilt and regret from actions.
Still, something did feel a bit lacking. If you do play the game, and go through the instructions left for you… most of it is just vague. You, the player, could fill in the blanks, but I felt it did somewhat break the immersion. I think it might have worked best if during the phone call, the player could fill in those blanks in a textbox, even if the information is not saved in a variable. It would probably make the ending all the more sweeter… or fulfilling.
This small game is a kinetic visual novel, where, unable to find sleep, you confess your deepest secret to your resting (unconscious) lover. One that would probably freak out a lot of people if they were told - think speculative fiction trope meets romance.
Aside from the promised weather metaphors and alliterations, the game is essentially a monologue, recalling how the MC got to this point. One thing feels pretty murky: the MC might be a very selfish person for prioritising their feelings above the well being of her lover (as she knows what is to come) or this is a tragic groundhogs day tale where no one wins/breaks the cycle at the end.
At the end of it, neither the prose nor the visual* really grabbed me. It is still quite a feat for a first game to write this many words, and put up the visual and code it all though.
*I don’t know if it was intentional, but the sprites were all pixelly during the page loadup.
… that is the ultimate question. A slice of toast in hand, you are faced with this conundrum at the start of the game: will you cast the yeast to the fire or let it be?
A simple decision, right? Who doesn’t want to have a nice golden slice of toast? What’s the worst that could happen?
Either path taken, the game will dive into absurdism - one path kind of reminded me of a Monty Python sketch. It is silly, and it knows it. It is silly and it wants you to have a silly time as well.
Great for a short silly break!
If You Had One Shot is my favourite kind of parser out there: simple, short, and you will always reach the end. So short even, you can be done with it in a few minutes, 10-max for all endings. Simple enough it only has four commands: N/W/S/E. And very much like Aisle, you will reach the end at the end of the action, no matter what.
But IYHOS goes further with that mechanic and its ‘One Shot’ premise: you can truly only choose one thing - the game locking any possibility of restarting the game, even when prompted*. It does hammer on the consequences of your action. Like life, you cannot go back, undo, restart… you can only move forward, with your regrets, your guilt…
* Well, you can, but not while the game is open…
As for the story, it is written by four different authors, each focusing on a different choice and its consequences. Honestly, unless you are familiar with their works, I found that their style blended so well that I couldn’t tell had written what. I think it speaks to the strength of each author, as well as Mathbrush’s choice of having those authors on board.
Kind of like Aisle, each branch will give the player a bit of information about the MC, the characters around them, and their relationship. Though, unlike Aisle, aside from the direct consequences of your action, the provided information is connected with one another. I thought the twist from them was quite funny, but also kind of sad. You kind of feel for the oblivious MC…
A cosplaying fan of a yandere anime strikes up a conversation with you at a con, remarking your resemblance to a major character of that anime - the “girlfriend” of the one she is cosplaying. It doesn’t take long to realise she is a certain kind of crazy… the obsessive kind.
Hoping to get away to find your own girlfriend, you are left with two choices: agree to take a picture with her to calm her down, or try to run away. Only one is the safest thing to do.
Though it is short, and not really my thing (I am not an yandere fan at all), the entry does manage to hit all the trope of the yandere character, making you wish you never have to deal with someone like that in real life. It is somewhat a good reminder not to let yourself be consumed by what you consume…
A conversation between two users start, as they meet once again after one of them left the social platform they connected. Thought this reconnection they discuss their experience of said platform and how changes have not gone over well, as well as the concept of anonymity through the ages.
The entry takes on multiple UIs through this conversation of different social media platforms, from the Tumblr DMs, Cohost posts, Twitter, Discord, Reddit, Youtube, and old Forum formats. It gives for a strange retrospective in parallel with the conversation, reminding us of what once was, and how those platforms (may) have changed over the years… often for the worst as they stop putting users first.
It is quite the relevant piece considering what has happened over the past years with Twitter, the past months with Reddit, or even more quietly with Tumblr…
Though, while our place on the internet may be temporary, the entry does give some hope that users who click will find each other elsewhere…
This short VN starts with a bang… or more accurately, poison. Realising what your lover may have done, you go onto confront him, and maybe get the antidote to avoid your demise.
You have multiple options to confront the man, some with violence, some pleading with his heart, and one asking Why. The truth lies in the lies, and life sometimes lies in death. Your survival is never really into question, but your feelings are another deal…
I wasn’t left completely satisfied with this entry. With the limited amount of words, it is hard to have a concise story pulling punches. In my case, it didn’t. Maybe because the outcome change little, or maybe because most is left unexplained. But maybe you’re not supposed to feel satisfied. Life usually isn’t…
The visuals however were lovely, and so was the addition of sound.
You were kidnapped by a stranger, for a reason unknown to you. And you are currently strapped to a chair, while the stranger essentially tortures you. You are given a choice, to hopefully gain some information about who that stranger is or why you’ve been brought here.
This visual novel is quite short, and lets you skip the part you’ve already read during replay, so it is quite easy to wrap it up in about 10min or so. And while there are hints to how you got there, I don’t believe there are enough pieces to solve the puzzle altogether. The writing focuses more on visceral description of the violence, making it quite gratuitous at the end.
I was honestly left quite repulsed (so the writing did what it aimed to do!)
Setting the stage at the Highchester estate, where a widow, the Lady of the house, trains her only daughter, Chelle, to take on the helms, a change of plans disrupts the life of three women. The arrival of Ara, requested by the Lady, enacts change in the relationship between mother and daughter, as well as subordinate and estate owner. The game lets you explore the perspective of those three women after this change. I recommend you leave The Lady for last.
With very little words, the entry depicts a sad tableau, painting pained faces and hurt feelings, the urge of having affairs in order forced by hidden secrets, and the expectations from one’s stations surpassing love and affections. But it also shares emergent feelings and an hopeful look on the future, as well as hinted breaks of class rules. It is impressive to depict much in such a tight package, and depict in a very touching way.
I was honestly wondering if Chelle and Ara would pull an Eugénie Danglars before the end…
Seeing the news, it sometimes feels like the world is a shitty place, and things keep getting worse. It’s not hard to drown in negative headlines and feel bombarded by tragic events left and right. And no matter what we do or say, things don’t seem to change.
And, even with positive things happening around us, negative thoughts will often linger, sticking for a while, until the sheer size of it all overwhelm us. This is what this entry manages to evoke with the visual of the bitsy engine, with the thought bubbles sticking around, piling onto one another, until it fills up the screen.
While I did somewhat expected it to happen, since the same thing happens to me, it was still distressing to have these feelings visualised before your eyes. The entry is devoid of any meaningless words and descriptions, only leaving the pure unaltered thoughts on the screen. The Good. The Bad. And the Ugly.
This short entries flips through a photo album, with the narrator commenting on the different pictures and how much has changed since the pictures were taken. Until you reach a turning point, looking at a picture from when you were still a sweet little girl - or so your mother like to remind you. What you do with this picture will determine the ending of the game.
The entry is full of nostalgia and melancholy. Sadness is present throughout the recollection of the past, even after your choice - though one is a bit more hopeful. Even with its short format, the story manages to give a snapshot of a distant relationship between a mother and their child, and the gender norms that may have cause that distance.
It is beautiful, in its pain.
TLN is a kinetic piece, a sort of small sequel to the Shadow Realm, another game from this author. The story follows NBQ, a side character from that other game, still in the Shadow Realm, going through the item that Anthony, the main character of that other game, has left behind. One of those items is a notebook, within which NBQ discovers a shocking piece of information.
There is not much more to this entry, which took the only one option to click on path of the SingleChoice rule. Elements of the story seem to require knowledge of the previous game to be fully understood, and the prose made things a bit confusing as well...
The illustrations were cute, though.
Do not get fooled by the pastel pink palette, and the child-like font. This game is much darker than it looks, and it is not afraid to show it. And it does it good.
If the title wasn’t enough of a hint, the game is a retelling of one of the darker versions of Cinderella, but with a twist. It is one of her step-sister who bagged the Prince, living the not-so-fairytale life. The step-mother’s trick, of sawing her daughter’s heels off was not discovered, and fooled the desperate romantic man. And through the step-daughter eyes, the story starts.
The game depicts this less than perfect life, with a woman who doesn’t feel like she belongs, in pain as a consequence of her mother’s action; and a husband who does not love her. Yet, she is forced to pull through, and perform the duties of her title, no matter the pain. The descriptions are gruesome and explicit, the feelings are raw and quite depressing. And it is done good.
I quite liked the author’s take on the single choice for the entry: with two cycling macros, giving 12 different options, each diving further into the Step-sister’s mind, her relationship and the titles that come with them, her regrets and shame, and her wishes. It is pretty grim all throughout.
I really, really appreciated the way the author coded the return to the choice, without having to read through the whole start of the game or remembering the last option seen. It made it so much easier to play all endings!
Waking up in a strange land can be perturbing. Realising your body does not look right, feels all kind of wrong. Finding yourself in the presence of a stranger by your bedside, terrifying. So what do you do? What can you do?
This short game gives you three choices, branching the story towards three different ends. Funnily, these choice kind of represent the Freeze, Fight, Flight behaviour we have when faced with a stressful situation.
The writing balanced quite well the more horrory/odd elements of the character, especially compared to the human they are facing. There was an interesting focus on how bodies should look like, the transformation of bodies, and how the character’s body felt wrong - adding to the uneasiness of the situation.
Visual wise, the game uses the basic UI of Ink, putting focus on the text. Still, it made some interesting styling choices, with the honeycomb link.
This entry is a retelling of a popular European folk story, where a card game is being played at a pub, when a stranger comes in and asks to join. Promising all your heart could desire if you beat him, but if you lose… he would take something from you too. Will you take on the challenge or fold?
The entry is very short, only a few passages before the eventual choice, and its visual is bare, putting the focus on the text. I really liked the depiction of the group of friend playing cards at the pub before the stranger’s entrance, giving a false sense of normalcy - a sticking opposition with the description of the stranger.
The choice itself feels both quite consequential and not very surprising, considering the heavy hints the game provides ahead of time. Both option will give quite different and expected endings. I think I preferred the “playing” option more than the other one - mainly because I’m still not sure what price will be paid…
It was a neat piece of folklore.
You play an (older?) gentleman doing some late night groceries after a long day. Most of it is pretty mundane and uninteresting, until you see some fresh gnocchi in the pasta aisle. Your mind can only think of the last time you had those, in Rome. Around you, the shelves block your view to the other aisles, and a brunette woman stands a few meters away, filling her trolley with pots of sauce.
And in this aisle you stop your trolley, waiting on what to do next.
Though I never found more than a few dozens by myself/with the French IF peeps, there are over 136 actions producing an ending in this game. 136! Whether you interact with yourself or your environment, there are a lot more you can explore with this very restrained environment.
Even if the experiment of one-action-the-end is truly amusing and insanely entertaining (who doesn't like a treasure hunt for all 136 endings), it is the writing that shines the most in this piece. The game is humourous, and dark, has bits of lightness, and becomes incredibly sordid, it is sad and genuinely touching... It can say so much with so very little. Truly incredible.
Through the endings, a backstory forms around the PC. Or maybe two or three. He had a wife, went to Rome with her, but something happened (death/illness/something else?), and he was left alone. It is not truly clear what happened to his wife, or the PC's involvement in said disappearance/death, but what is certain is the pain and the guilt the PC still feels after all this time (has it be years, by now?), making him unable to form new connections with people, leaving him truly and completely alone. What stays is his fond memory of that trip to Rome and those gnocchi he ate there...
Though based in the (unreal) mythos of the Goncharov phenomenon, Verspertine is still a piece about love being both transient, forbidden, never-ending, and bound by time.
Like Sophia's previous title (Origin of Love), Verspetine continues on the linear retelling of a romance doomed from the start (infidelity + clock theme from Goncharov), with the use of annotated links revealing either a side note on a certain point (button) or a different perspective (numbers). The prose even resembles the poetry of Origin of Love in its descriptions.
While there is no clear timeline or setting of scene throughout the game, as Andrey jumps from his recollection of past events to his feelings for Goncharov, I've chosen to believe Andrey is waiting for his lover to awaken, admiring his sleepy self and contemplating on his situation in the meantime.
I read the piece multiple times, because I wanted to experience the story as it was, before diving into the annotation. While the main text and the button annotations are written in the third person (from Andrey's perspective and memories), the numbered links sends you into a darker screen, where the prose is shown in the first person, in a more personal and stronger voice.
I was confused at first whose voice it was between the two men at first, but the last screens made it clear Goncharov was the one.
You are told from the get go that the romance is doomed from the start: Goncharov is married and their work interfere with one another (?? the Goncharov mythos is unclear on whether the two are partners or rivals). The relationship is bound to end, time will not let them escape (sidenote: loved the references to the clock and time). Yet you can't help but feel for the two men who obviously yearn for each other's presence (and body, mind and soul). You want them to find a way to keep them embraced.
And in this pain, there is beauty. Beauty in the way the two describe each other, in the way the harshness of their lives is offset by the little moments they find each other, in the way they kiss, in the way they touch... Beauty prevails. Love, somehow, prevails.
Forenote: I am not a poetry person. I usually don't vibe with or understand them.
As the piece is quite short (due to the 4h limit from the competition), I have been reading and re-reading it, going back to the start, and round and round I went, letting my brain be spun inside a washing machine of verses, soaking the intricate (and very steamy) metaphors within the lines.
Though the interactiveness of the piece only comes in two forms (the links between the stanza groups and the word buttons revealing further details), the "story" is linear. There is no choice to make (save for exploring the details and continuing through the verses).
I am not well versed (sorry) in poetry, with my knowledge essentially limited to fables and romantic French poems. But it stroke me how easy my eyes flew through the page, even if my expectations of rhymes would not be satisfied. The content of the poem was enthralling and captivating.
The poem starts with almost a prayer to a divine body, aching to be touched, and continues on an exploration of bodies, where one handles the other like a relic, while the other searches for pain. There is hunger within the poem, a devouring desire that cannot be satiated. It descends into a recollection of travels and inquisitions, a search of a home, and a remembrance of who one is and how much one is loved.
Save for the last passages, the hidden details brings forward a more lustful piece, almost akin to BDSM, adding onto the worshipping of one's lover's body. As the poem continues, the details softens into a declaration of love and loss of one's self without the other (and a small revenge).
I don't think I am done with this piece... for after many readings, I would still discover a new metaphor or a different take on an imagery. I don't think I will ever be done.
Glimmer is about a person spiraling in helplessness, having a hard time to function around the bleakness of their situation. It is also about hope, and the importance of having caring people around.
The game is simplistic in both style and visual. A few lines of text, one choice, maybe some extra interactive links to add description. It is straight to the point. The world is bleak, so you turn your back to it. You face some hardship, so you avoid them. Little by little, you close yourself to everything around you. But, at your lowest point, a hand reaches out to you to pull you out of your funk (forcibly if you resist), reminding you that there are still good things out there to enjoy.
I thought the game started out strong, with tackling themes of drifting and avoidance turning into depression and isolation (though it felt at time a tad too surface-level in its representation), when faced with a bleak world and difficulties in your life. The whole losing your joie de vivre and vicious cycle of negativity.
However, I found the whole second act... dissonant almost? In your darkest moment, an unnamed friend* barges (back?) into your life, gives you a cup of tea and a biscuit, and like that, you snap out of it, awkwardly and timidly claiming you tried to get better all this time. When the first part of the game implied quite some time had passed between the first event of the spiral and current time, it feels like a whiplash to have a "recovery" happening so suddenly. This feeling was aggravated when choosing to resist the friend's pleas does little to change the outcome. As if by magic, you get better by the last page. After just a cup of tea.
*I really didn't like that you would not even acknowledge their personhood, I think that's also a reason why it felt weird.
I still haven't made my mind about the (lack of) choices and what it means for the player agency. I've come to appreciate more the kinetic approach of storytelling in IF, and considering how debilitating depression can be, making you think you do not have a choice, it is thematically in line with the story. However, the few available choices lack in consequence or are essentially disregarded by the story, which makes the little agency the player has essentially useless. It felt a bit frustrating and unsatisfying.
I did appreciate the message the game was trying to convey, but I don't think the game quite manage to get the point across.
A chilling and confusing snippet of life told through the eyes of a small child dealing with struggling parental figures, in a gothic style
Horror is usually not my style because I am a bit of a chicken, but Sweetpea's big eyes and scared demeanor pulled me in and would not let go until this game was complete. [This is actually my second playthrough]
The vivid descriptions of the surroundings or Sweetpea's feelings, as well as the formatting and animations of the text added onto my discomfort and uneasiness. Yet, I could not look away. I had to check all the boxes and find all the hidden links to understand the troubles the eponymous character was going through.
I actually didn't catch this the first time around, but it is (Spoiler - click to show)heavily implied the father is an alcoholic following the mother's departure (death?), behaving strangely in her eyes when drunk. The hints were all there, from the stranger who looks like dad but is not like dad; the broken glass and the sickness in the bathroom, or the father leaving for hours/days on end. It is clear the father is trying his best (and failing at the task), but his guilt is not enough to change him (until the end is reached). The horror of every day life...
Even the second time around, I was still quite confused at the second "act" with Micheal, not because of the change of background marking a new beginning in the story, but by the shift in the story going from a grim reality told through the eyes of a child, to being swooped by some sort of guardian angel in some imaginary place and being served breakfast. (Spoiler - click to show)Then afterwards, the context of alcoholism with the father kind of makes it as if the dad was sobered up then, caring for his child.
While the story ends on the positive note, it still depict a grim part of life, where hurt people hurt other people (and worse, children), which shook me to my core. The contrast of the pain and the panic of the child with the fond remembrance of gifts or the soothing taste of a sweet makes it all the harder to go through. This is accentuated by the gothic style of writing, making this everyday horror more vivid and visceral.
Chills going down the spine at every turn.
Set in a psych ward, this very short dating-sim will let you explore the building, meet different Edits and Nikis. Some of them even invite you on a date after some extremely short small talk. There are four possible endings.
I appreciate shortness in games, the ones that go to the point and don't waste time with meandering or going around the bush. Being able to tell a complete story concisely is an impressive skill. But not every story can be or should be told concisely. Some need a bit more fluff to tie parts together. This is one of the issue with this game.
4E2N is actually a remake of The 4 Edith, a Twiny Jam entry of less than 300 words. This game ditched the pictures, changed the Edith into Edit (or was it a typo?), added Nikis, and fluffed up the small talk between the characters and the descriptions of the environment. Even adding an extra choice at the start.
Going into the psych yard, you are given a choice between entering the building or stay outside a bit longer. This can be repeated until a resident come bother you about a topic you don't seem to care about. Inside the building, you can visit multiple locations, each populated by one of the Edith or the Niki. Small talk ensue (or not), before you move on to another location. Once you feel it is time to go home, you are presented with four locations, each where you meet again an Edith, prompting the ending of the game.
Aside from getting extra locations, you are able to go back and forth in the history to see other endings without having to reload the game.
Still, the remake feels off. The pages have many typos and formatting issues (especially when it comes to naming the Ediths - Even the title of the game is unclear on whether it is Edit or Edith) and lack of consistence (the characters pronouns or POV). Meeting the different characters feel incredibly shallow (is that the point the game is trying to make? I mean who goes dating in a psych ward), and neither endings feel satisfying, or much fun. One major issue I have with the remake is the addition of the Nikis, only to be told in the final choice The Niki are not yet/no longer available…
In terms of the gameplay, aside from the game not even registering whether you've met the different Edit(h?)s or the Nikis, there is not much to it. Your choices feel quite inconsequential and hollow. It could have been nice to see you accept or refuse a date, bringing your date to a different place, or learn of what happened to the other dates if you didn't meet with them.
The game feels quite unfinished and incomplete, the story even in its shortness is both straightforward and confusing. After replaying I wasn't sure whether I was a resident of the psych ward or whether the Edits and Nikis were truly human.
Was there something in the game I just didn't get? Or was it submitted as a bad joke? I don't know...
Invited for a visit at or found your way into the Palais Garnier, you are thrust into a world full of dance, intrigue, and superstitions. Your tasks is to separate fact from fiction, and make sense of the mystery afoot. No matter the supposed curse, the future of the ballet, and its corps, depends on you!
Set during the Belle Époque in Paris, Rougi paints a vivid and dizzying picture of the ballet scene and its intrigue. Starting from the prologue, you are introduced to a small cast of characters with links to the Palais Garnier or its ballet crew, their relationships with one another, and the hints of conflicts between them. Even before the crux of the mystery is revealed, the game sets the stage for some delicious intrigue.
Thought the project is only in a development stage, the available demo already lays out an intriguing premise, a compelling and layered mystery and interesting use of interactivity (in picking up clues). The story pulls the player in different direction, through crimson strings towards potential answers or red herrings (and there seems to be many red herrings).
Is the Director behind it all, due to disagreement with the Maestro? or an admirer of the Danseuse Étoile take revenge for the casting choice? or maybe the Danseuse Étoile walks the path of destruction? Could it actually be supernatural or a former foe behind it all? The game seem to take pleasure in throwing the player off the scent...
Further than the mystery afoot, there are interesting conflicts and backstories I hope the rest of the game will explore. Between the seasoned Danceuse Étoile and the naïve newcomer, will they claw each other out for the top spot or is there something more caring behind the façade? Will Élodie's part in the performance create a stir? Were Camille's failures a coincidence or were they external forces at play? What does it all mean for the ballet?
The writing is somewhat reminiscent of French contemporary(-ish) writers, like Flaubert or Balzac, in its flowery descriptions and detailed flow-y and rather sizeable text. The abundant use of imagery and metaphor adds to the strength of the project, enhancing the theatrics of the story. As dance is to ballet, so it is reflected in words here.
The author has also a good attention for details, showing its effort in including the correct terminology in ballet concepts or in the descriptions of the Palais Garnier. It shows that research has been done.
I also liked that the author put the MC in a very secondary/observer position. We are thrust into the setting, an outsider looking in and trying to make sense of established facts and relationships. Navigating this whole affair is both exciting and dizzying. (Is it a commentary that as players we are outsider to any story's game too?)
As a sidenote, while Les Souliers Rouges was not a contemporary ballet to the current setting (late 1800s), nor a cursed one at that, but a more recent invention, the author's plan for said ballet share very few similarities. It will be interesting to see where the story takes us and how the premise of the ballet is reflected in the path the characters will take...
As is expected with a working demo, there were some icks that stood out. Some interactive aspects were a bit out of place (like going through Camille's desk when the following line they are here in the room) or lacked the satisfying formatting of the choice list (even for single choice). Passages were at time getting a tad too long, which is a bit of a issue when saving (as Twine can save when moving to a new passage only) or reloading a page. Along with page breaks, I think a better separation between chapters/beats would help with the flow between scenes and make it a bit clearer in the time passed or in the location (maybe a header at the start?).
And while I liked the UI, especially its dark colour scheme, I think the Belle Époque aesthetic could be pushed even further to complement the setting of the story (or its mystery).
This project had been on my radar since it was first submitted to the Interact-IF jam, and I've been waiting for its return ever since, hoping to bring back my ball of red twine and connects unlikely dots...
I should probably preface this review by saying I've never read Hamlet (or Shakespeare's work) outside of lone lines or loose adaptations (I think the Lion King/Dune applies?). And while I know there are murders, betrayals, unrequited feelings, madness and monologues galore, the game does not punish you for not knowing the intricacies of the text. Because the story is set after Hamlet's death... and it is not really about Hamlet either.
E:aH uses Hamlet as a framing device to explore the themes of grief, the fear of and hopelessness about death, and identity (esp. Asian American), when living through a global pandemic. During this period, many of us have experienced grief and hardship, from not being able to meet people, to losing family members, seeing one's health worsen, or being subject to violence from others... And within its 15k+ words, this game creates a snapshot filled with anxiety and uncertainty. Yet, amidst the depressing setting, the prose is parsed with humour, little gems bringing levity to the story.
The story happens in two folds: you working on your assignment, trying to suppress worries about your loved ones and the state of the world, and your hallucinations(?) set in Elsinore, imagining events following the end of the play. Both somewhat mirroring or criticising the other. You struggle to find something meaningful to say about the the text, while Horatio scolds you for downplaying their agency as people. A "plague" starts in Elsinore, which you notice from a servant coughing. you share comforting words to Horatio and compassion for his situation, recalling times of struggles during the "war" against COVID and the violence some were forced to endure because of their ethnicity.
The game feels like a critique of the text, through the added character of Petra challenging the crown while passive Ophelia goes mad, or a critique of some reading of the text, like with the comments about the relationships between Horatio and Hamlet. The critiques are sometimes a bit more blunt, with the player character roasting Hamlet for derailing his father's quest (meeting his demise) or his poor treatment towards other characters (esp. Ophelia).
While the UI strayed very little from the basic Harlowe base, it does utilise the enchantment macros in an interesting manner, often enhancing the player character's feelings, a few even added to the hallucination assumptions (especially when ignoring the first sign). Some of the strangely formatted text will hide the way to advance through the story. I wasn't particularly fan some typed text (a bit too slow) or timed ones (wait a bit too long), and one hidden link was biiit too obtuse to find - but it didn't detract my overall enjoyment of the story.
But as every story, this too must end. So let's finish with the endings. The game has 7 possible endings. Some easier to get than others; some longer than others; some good, some bad, some neither. I reached the shorter ones more easily than the longer ones. Depending on your choices, the story will confirm these hallucinations were just a dream or will let you believe you are still trapped in Elsinore; you may reach a bittersweet end where your heart lightened, or one sharing the same fate as Ophelia. Out of those, I think I preferred the ones where the isekai theme was the more obvious, regardless of how forceful the return to reality is, as it mirrored best the start of the game and felt more like a closing the circle moment.
This is a Post-Comp Version review. Also maybe biased because I really like Autumn's work.
In a far future, after centuries of conflict, the Earth's population has been reduced to small communities stuck inside arcologies (city domes). In one of them, lives Em, an Archivist (sorta), trying to survive the best she can (sorta), and maybe (re)form relationships to better her situation. Throughout the game, you must ensure Em is on top of her duties and health.
As with her other Dendy games, A&R works in layers. On the surface, it is a resource management game, where your savings, energy level (hidden), mental and physical health (hidden) must be minded when organising one's day or spending.
While you have agency in this, how far you can go with the different actions will depend on whether you've unlocked certain storylets, or Em's current health at the time. Since she has chronic issues, you won't be allowed to churn through hundreds of files for your job, or even do anything at times.
Underneath, two other mechanics come to play: the relationship/storylet aspect with Em's old acquaintances, and the archiving loop, Em's job. Both will affect Em's survival (savings/health) and the ending of the game.
The first is relatively similar to Autumn's previous Dendry games, in which a side-story will be parsed throughout the game, requiring the player to meet specific characters multiple times to uncover the story at large. In this game, clearing more than one path in a playthrough is quite doable.
The latter is a mechanic I had not really seen before in an IF game, but one I enjoyed greatly. Your job entails decrypting and archiving files, each with a specific code (hint hint), requiring to be either placed in a specific slot or discarded (or you can keep it for yourself). Combing through the documents were quite fun.
The first time I played the game, I thought I could survive all on my own, leaving past relationships where they were, focusing only on my job and keeping myself afloat. I remember it being incredibly stressful (I almost cried when Em was on the brink of eviction). Everything felt hopeless, and the almost-clinical-at-times prose, as well as the UI, accentuated that feeling.
This time around, I followed Autumn's advice and shamelessly begged my acquaintances for money. I didn't want to recreate that very anxious feeling I had the last time - and wanted to see what else I had missed. Indeed, it was much less stressful to go through. I didn't really have to worry about money (thanks A-), I didn't have to exhaust myself with work, and I could explore more different facets of Em's life (her past relationships, herself, how she had to navigate the world). The world is still wretched, but there is more hope. You almost believe that surviving through it is... doable.
The storylets manages to offer a bit of levity in this wretched world, in which Em can find a community helping others, rekindle her relationship with a (re)closeted trans person, rekindle her relationship with her ex who you had a child with. In (re)making connections, you can learn more about your past and how you (don't) fit in this world. You can go on a date, cook with someone, spend time with your child... have a "normal" life.
I quite enjoyed how grounded and raw these storylets felt. They, at times, seemed like a commentary on our present, with the tribalism of social media, the lack of trust in the news, the grueling life under capitalism, and the treatment of transfolks. Strip away the sci-fi/post-apocalyptic future, and they could could be right at home with our current time.
I still hated the news part... its description changing the 'a form of self harm' was on point considering the comments...
Even if you don't interact with anyone, you can still learn about the world and your place in it through the notes (essentially a Codex page) or DNA files you decode. From old recovered chats between yourself and other characters, science articles, old journal entries, and documents regarding the Arcology's founder - Liana -, you can build together a bleak image about the world, the state of the environment and human condition, filled with disenchantment and conflict.
Depending on what you do with your day, you may find some Easter Eggs, like the TV Series you can watch or the Games you can play, little winks to Autumn's other games. Some characters of the game, made obvious by their names, share a resemblance to ones from the Pageantverse.
With the implementation of the Autosave, I was able to reach a lot more endings than the first time around, especially less bleak ones, without having to replay the game. Those endings are highly dependent on the actions you took during the game, some being sweet (especially with K-), some being maybe critical (imo A-'s, Alone), and one specifically blew my mind (Ending 1 - didn't find before).
Ending 1 is by far the most interesting one in my book. While it might seem a bit like a Deux Ex Machina or coming from out of nowhere (depending on your playthrough it may feel like a whiplash), it is the one that has not left my brain since I've replayed the game - maybe because of how strikingly different it is from the others. I think this ending might work best if connections with other characters were not made. It also made me wonder whether Em's life would have been that different if her arcology was still in contact with the others, or whether contact was severed between all arcologies. Honestly, it brought a lot of questions about the world after reading through (sequel of Ending 1, when?).
I don't know if there is a point or a moral to the game. If I were to give one to it, it would be that communities are important for people to thrive, maybe even necessary, and that the world can be a very difficult place when you keep to yourself, worse when your situation is dire in the first place. Even if it seems bleak, there is a glimmer of hope and goodness there...
This entry does not give one, nor two, but six and a half stories within one game, all taking a jab at romantic clichés. In the container half story, you are courting Molly, a more-or-less maneater, who coyly tells her different affairs with past men and why it never worked out. Among those: a perfect man she always felt insecure around, a mad scientist who let his work consume the relationship, a literal Don Juan who depleted her savings, a foozball celebrity who partied too much, a royal alongside which she felt too much pressure, and a rockstar who cheated.
While the entries try to make fun of romantic clichés, its prose is none the better, emulating those romance novel of questionable quality, without really fully hitting the mark. Adding on to an unneeded formal tone, this adds to the impossibilities of the tales being reality, removing the possibility of fantasy. With the game switching from a second-POV (you, the player) to a first-POV (Molly), it also fails to give both Molly and you distinct voices, making the transition between past and present a bit strange.
Molly is everything you find in Romance stories: she is gorgeous and yet bland, capable and helpless, confident in herself and insecure around men she thinks are better; and in most situation. She is honestly quite infuriating; worse even when she finishes her tale, taunting you with showing her how you are better than her ex.
The end of the game is none the better. After going through Molly’s retelling of her life with her different exes, you simply throw your hands in the air and leave. Claiming she was looking down at you. Which she had until now. But showing the tipping point being the man who behave the worst towards her left an awful taste in my mouth, when you barely flinched her taunt the other times (and had no choice to give up before then).
At this points, I questioned whether this was truly parodying the genre. Or just trying to make a bad joke. In any case, it felt of bad taste.
This short poetic prose takes you on a drunken melancholic trip filled with stolen glances, caring touches, and repressed feelings. With every sentence, the tension between the two characters is palpable, edging to succumb to their yearning, yet never faltering - no matter their current state, no matter their actual feelings for one another.
With its simple UI design and atmospheric music, this entry managed to create quite a melancholic and somewhat heartbreaking aura to the story.
I’ve had trouble putting my thoughts in order for this one, as I honestly was confused about the story throughout the whole thing. Parsing bits together from what seemed a memory and what was “current time” was a bit of a struggle, as the formatting for either part were quite similar.
I did take from it a story of broken (maybe more than) friendship, filial duties, expectations from status, and feelings kept secret. I was quite disoriented trying to keep up with it (not knowing where to click probably didn’t help). I did find the aesthetic quite artsy, even if a bit strange for my taste.
This kinetic entry recounts the moment a person realised their parent’s relationship wasn’t as loving as it seemed. Through a series of event, they find their mother’s indiscretion and struggle with dealing with the situation. Ultimately, their choice is to keep it a secret, and the facade of a happy family going.
There was something in the prose that felt a bit off. The way the entry was written felt a bit to clinical/academic, quite detached from the event described. Maybe the story could have been from the perspective of an adult recollecting old memories. But it felt so devoid of feelings… I thought it was a bit strange…
Through this quite short entry, we are introduced to Pan and Subsa, two not-quite-human friends who might be more than friends, struggling to put a meaningful and correct label on their relationship. It is very sweet, and kind, and warms your heart.
I quite liked how it ended
Starting in the middle of a conversation, you play as the titular Fynn, a performing poet by day and well-meaning thief by night, hiding Quinn, a cop on the run after an unfortunate incident from a previous installation of the series. With a love-hate relationship with the man, you must confront your dire situation and some consequences of your actions, plan and execute a heist, and try your best not to fall for him.
Even with having to press the spacebar to show every new line, I could not take my eyes away from the screen until I finished the game. I even had a hard time choosing whether to press the options offered to direct the story one way or let the conversations flow by itself (usually picked the second). The characters had so much personality, and you can't help but take a step back and be a spectator to the conversation of the moment, just to see what happens...
The game makes it quite easy for you to root for Flynn (even considering the implications of the previous game) and want everything will turn out ok by the end of the game. Regardless of his not-so-legal occupations (which reminded me a bit of Lupin), Flynn has a bit of a Robin-Hood heart to him.
But, as every heist demands, things don't go to plan. The gunshot, although expected, shook me. So, did the cliffhanger.
Really great entry. I have to check the other ones, next.
Told from the perspective of Terri, a love-inexperienced student, this kinetic entry tells the story of two dormmate hitting off after meeting, moving into a relationship, before breaking things off when unsaid truths were kept silent. And learned lessons along the way.
This entry is what you'd expect from a slice-of-life story, considering the theme of the jam. It is sweet and at times a bit corny (in a good way). Kind of heartbreaking, leaving a bittersweet after taste, overall.
That said, the prose didn't do much for me. While it had some heart, I found it a bit too meandering to keep me focused, dragging some scenes longer than it should, while glossing over beats that maybe should have been a bit more expanded (like the whole avoiding your partner, or going further into Terri's struggle with their identity). There is potential here, it just needs a little more TLC to get there.
I wasn't particularly fond of Terri's passivity either. I think it made sense in the context of the story, but I wanted to shake them so they'd face the issues they created rather than letting Trinity to all the work for the both of them.
Sending you back to class, this entry tasks you with translating a Russian poem by Anna Akhmatova as your final assignment for a course you are taking. A poem (or the task of embodied translation), the teacher hopes will serve you in the future.
I should add there that I don’t understand Russian, nor had I come across this poem before. Went in there blind.
While most of the text will be translated by simply hovering your mouse over the text, the game will, in parts, give you choices (always in 3) to translate specific groups of words. With repetition in words, some choices are simpler than others. Even if not chosen, all choices should be clicked (~delicious flavour text~). Finally, you must choose a title!
I boringly compared the words of the title to the first line of the poem and wrote just that… I also played the game by not touching the translation bit, just continuing to the next passage, and the translated poem was so very funny in a stressed student doing in an exam way.
Then comes the painful process of waiting to hear back from your professor… or your boyfriend…
The poem itself is quite sad, and, as hinted by the game, might be mirroring your relationship…
This almost-kinetic entry time-jumps 10 years after Cinderella’s tales, giving snippets into her life as Queen of the realm. As her life is described from her perspective, it becomes clearer the title of the game reads more sarcastically as one might think. Overall, the piece was much darker than expected…
Parsed through the story are the lyrics of Labour by Paris Paloma, mirroring Cinderella’s life after escaping the clutches of her step-family. But it leaves you to wonder if she truly escaped that life or if only the walls of house just changed.
The entry seem to have perhaps taken a more realistic take of what would probably have happened to Cinderella after marrying the Prince (if based on the 17th-century iteration), considering the place, status and duties of a Monarch’s wife.
Overall, this was an interesting mashup of a fairytale and song lyrics.
Through the writing of a letter, parsed with words left unsaid/unwritten, this short kinetic entry deals with a loss of a close relationship, because of unrequited feelings and different expectations. It is touching in its tragedy, heartbreaking in its commonness.
In very few words, this entry beautifully encapsulates the end of something that is often stronger than romantic partnership. And how mixed feelings can tear someone apart.
The addition of sound and animation were a lovely touch as well.
Ever fudged so badly in your relationship you wished you had a time machine/trinket to go back and fix your mistakes by actually doing and saying the right things to save what is almost lost?
This is something that Tiel doesn't need to worry about, as his grandmother left him a neat little pocketwatch, allowing him to save his relationship... if he plays his card correctly.
Through a thread of choices, your actions will determine which ending you will receive, and whether you will manage to save your relationship.
Still, regardless of the end post, Heron's criticisms only resonate ever so louder with every new cycle. Sure, you may be acknowledging eir hurt and needs, but are you truly doing this selflessly? Don't you invalidate eir choice, the one triggering the story, by going back in time until you succeed in your goal or relent in your defeat?
The game does not just do time loop incredibly successfully, it also raises quite the moral questions about slippery slopes when rewinding time...
In this retelling of the Jenny Greenteeth folktale , you meet the titular character by the shore of a pond. Though it takes little for you to become entranced by her “charms”. Eyes, hands, mouths, hair… you cannot look away from the murky sight before you, let alone pull away from her grasp. Not like you truly want to pull away…
The horror oozes from the prose, its nails scratching your brain until it leaves a mark, leaving you wanting to wander by the lake, and once more meet the creature of your(?) desires?
I want to preface that this game was insane, and pushed all the right buttons for me. Is it genius? I think so. At least the ending I got was to me.
As a manic pixie dream girl, you are tasked by the Agency of Narrative Intervention to help the main characters of the short stories to fulfill their potentials, by making it all about “yourself”. Break some hearts, break some love, break some chains… But never become enmeshed with the story.
That is until…
… the story feels… off. And your role doesn’t quite fit anymore… You may choose to push through and finish your work, or maybe follow that strange character trying to make you question everything you know (was it your manic pixie dream girl?).
Along with some sort of red/blue pill choice, the ever changing UI almost pushes you down a path, one you might feel too afraid to take, one which could set you free? Yet, are you doomed to repeat the stories you were once tasked to change?
A really interesting and mind-blowing entry!
There is probably nothing more anti-romance than a couple on a verge of a break-up; when the spark is not just gone but harming both parties (in this case, one more than the other). A fight is how the story starts, full of resentment and misplaced hurt. Setting expectations that behind the bright UI of the entry, darkness looms ahead.
And yet, this is not the path the story takes. It does not wallow (for long) in the misery of hurt feelings, despair over failures, or doubles down in the hurt in the hopes to salvage the doomed relationship. Instead, it takes the path of healing and love - for oneself and others but with a healthier view and supportive friends.
Love is an action you choose to do, how you show people you care about them.
As a final point, the formatting of the story inside chat rooms was so fitting. Each user had their own distinct voice, that barely needed the username to know who was writing which message. The addition of typos during emotional moments, especially for Sylvia, were a great touch!
It is rare that I am enthralled by prose that flows through the page, and yet feeling nothing but confusion as I read through it. While I would usually stop reading and give up on a piece that I do not understand, here I stayed, hoping the story would fall into place and everything would make sense in the end.
It, however, did not do that. The conversations you have with other characters is interspersed with your thoughts or environmental descriptions, neither completely fitting in a way. I ended wondering if this was some sort of sci-fi/mystical retelling of some Ancient Greek mythos… or just vibes.
Yet… I could not look away… the prose kept pulling me through the passages, only leaving me hanging, stranded, by the end…
Was this maybe the point of this entry?
Oh, the pains of unrequited love! Their presence hurts with your feelings not being returned, but their absence hurt even worse. And what torture to spend an evening with the object of your love, in quiet spot, in the ever-so romantic setting of waiting for shooting stars. There are moments that could create a spark (a brush of a finger, some unsaid words), but reality always catches up to you.
They will never love you the way you love them. You ache for them to, but you don't seem to mind the hurt either...
Quite nicely expressed.
What’s the worst that could happen when missing your alarm? Here, being locked inside the hotel, after the owner has shut it down for the season. Without a phone to call for help, you are left to your devices to find a way out.
The puzzle is pretty simple (click on the correct links to progress), and quite reminiscent of parsers/text adventures (I would see this one as a pretty cute beginner entry imo).
This is what this entry feels like, a intro or teaser to a larger series about Dimensions Guardian, some sort of spy/agent team working to restore reality to its natural state, fighting the monster of the week! “In this week’s episode, The Typewriter!”
As expected from Sophia, themes of religion, celestial bodies, and trauma, will usually have an appearance in her writing. Again with this entry, from the allusion of a “guardian angel” looking over you, or the triple digits as some form of communication between heavenly bodies and humans (notice how 666 is missing…).
This guardian, however, has not the best intention at heart, as the descriptions (told from their perspective) of their actions seem to traumatise you, has they have done your father before, as they will do your daughter in the future. This fixation is hidden behind their love for you, as they had for your father, as they will your daughter…
Or… you could read something completely different…
The final note absolutely KILLED me.
While this is not the first entry of this jam to have an escape your nightmare concept, this one add an extra mechanic with the “Will to Live”. Depending on your actions, you may lose part of said will… and be consumed by the darkness. This was a neat little addition, giving more gravitas to the concept.
There is another layer to this nightmare, a reason for its existence in the first place. Thought you only discover it when you get closer to dispelling the nightmare…
Overall pretty neat and anxiety inducing game.
I liked the added illustrations too! And this was made in the Snowman format!
At the brink of a new birthday passing, one often reflects on where life has taken us, and this year’s celebration is different from the previous one. Passing certain milestones may add new challenges, like having to find a new job or your own value in society that may not value your skills, not having the time to (re-)connect with family and friends, or feeling inadequate for not having done certain things.
The entry is filled with sadness and with a hint of blasé-ness covers many things a lot of us worry about. The simple style of writing adds onto the sincerity of the text…
The audio file and images add a filter of melancholy to the whole.
Or so Sartre says, in “No Exit”, the piece this entry is based on. In the play, three people are brought together to torture each other, including Inez, a woman who seduced her cousin’s wife and met her demise when the latter, filled with guilt, left the stove one while they slept (all this is referenced in the blurb/game).
Seemingly told from Inez’s perspective, this entry focuses on the burning love for a kept woman ended up burning her to the core. The entry sort of felt it was doing a one sided conversation with one of the other characters stuck with her…
A very interesting of a similarly poignant source!
This short quiz calling itself a time waster reminds us of two important things: taking breaks is important, especially if you’ve done a lot with your days, AND you often will find you’ve done more than you think. Either way, it is important to be kind to and take care of yourself.
What happened to the two frogs sent into space by NASA in the 70s? This is what this entry tried to envision in those 500 words. Did they ignore each other? Did they console each other? Did they drive each other crazy? We will never know… but isn’t it interesting to think about?
And end of an era is upon us when the last of the Heros returns on the brink of death. Who will be there to protect and care for the weak if no Hero is around? Who will fight for good and against evil marauders if not for a Hero?
The Hero provides an alternative (if you chose the correct path) of becoming the Warrior and Samaritan you look up to yourself…
And maybe, that is enough to survive the change…
But you weren’t before, to the exasperation of others around, deep in your mediation or memories of older times, snippets of moments who marked you, realisation that nothing will ever be the same. Yet you seem stuck in the past or dreams…
I was honestly a bit confused by this piece, with a lot being quite vague and some controls a bit wonky…
You are an assassin, interrupted in your job by a knife at your throat. Your next action will determine whether you live or die, or maybe walk away a bit worse for wear…
For all its violence and tension, I did giggle at some endings, as the writing has quite a bit of humour. Another was pretty hot as well.
A good bite-size thriller!
Esme is an up-and-comer entertainer, trying to claw her way to a position in court, using her wits but mainly her beauty to be remembered. At this point in time, she relies on her patron to secure her standing with the court, even if it pains her soul and pride.
The writing does a wonderful job at burning the rage Esme feels, and how dedicated she is to achieve her goals, on the page. Almost in an animalistic way…
The tale of the Betrayer of the Son of God, whom a kiss dooms mankind to suffering, is recalled from the perspective of the sinner in this entry. Going through the multitudes of feelings held in Judas’s heart, one discovers his resentment towards his pre-determined fate.
There is a hint of homoeroticism between Judas and Jesus, and I’ve been wondering if that was meant from the beginning, or I am just reading into it…
I am not well versed in details of the catholic mythos and believes to pick up on all the details included in this entry…
An alarm awaken you, warning you of a breach in your ship. Tasked to investigate, you come across a group of strangers… and an orb, which you had never seen before and which disappears when you try to touch it.
Unfortunately, there is not more to it, as bugs seem to have removed potential actions (and reached the 3 locked endings). Aside from dying or killing the intruders, there is not much to speak of…
Locked in a dungeon, you find company in a Knight, who may or may not help you find your freedom (or something else…)… if you manage to escape the dungeon’s guardian, that is.
The UI of this entry is impeccable, with its little gif-sprites representing the player, changing at random at every start of the game, and its background moving with the mouse.
This is really a well thought-out and executed entry!
Naming the game as a Chore on itch is very fitting, as filling out applications for a resume often, if not always feels like an absolute chore. The choice of using Texture for this was the correct one, as the click/drag on desktop reeeaaaaally adds to the chore-like feeling of this task.
The player gets to edit an application for a job, expanding, rephrasing, deleting or submitting at will the different parts. Through the writing, it is obvious the player character is frustrated with the task (and who isn’t, filling those applications are The Worst). Every action has quite a bit of humour in it, especially when expending on some sections.
Good vibes, not good times…
Son of Helios hurtling towards the ground, as his lover Cygnus cannot take her eyes away from the body about to disappear. After abandoning her kingdom for the one she loved, she is now abandoned herself… But the fates or the gods have other plans for her…
It would have been nice to have a clearer indication the story ended. Because of how the previous passages were formatted, I was expecting a delayed text to appear…
Using snippets and illustrations of the novel “Journeys to the Planet Mars” (1903), the author created a sort of database/paper on the ecology of a certain region of Mars. This entry is more of a muted one compared to the other submitted one, but it is quite beautiful in the way it has been formatted and edited.
As a villain, you have a reputation to uphold, one of being defeated only by a Hero. How embarrassing it would be if someone knew every morning a Cat. But today…
Oh today, you will defeat it!
The game is adorably delightful, and has the right amount of humour to make the nonsensical situation “normal”. The addition of the Cat’s illustration was so so very cute!
Imagine an adventure text coupled with old timey sound effect. Now remove all words but 5, and make all of those except one choices. This is essentially this entry.
Going from a slice-of-life to absurd to fantasy adventure to easter eggs (the eagles xD), the entry if filled with hilarious moments (even with the limited amount of words on the page). I was giggling through and through while playing!
A very light and lovely addition to the jam!!
It is a human trait to compare one’s self to others. To see how we fare as a person, as a member of a community, as a skilled individual. While the act of comparing is a neutral one as is, the feeling that follows might not be. One can feel pride of having accomplished more than others, or envy for still not having achieved the success other have…
This entry is an autobiographical depiction of the latter, as a personal response to having creative endeavours received by an audience differently to other works. It also brings forward an interesting point about (para)social relationships with stranger on the internet and expectations through these creative endeavours.
Who hasn’t been tempted to scroll through their phone endlessly instead of doing what they are supposed to do? Or having to wake up early the day after but your phone is right there, tempting you? Sure, you could go to sleep and be fine the in the morning, but you will miss on the fun content if you do…
The entry had some lovely illustrations too!
Unable to sleep, you lie awake. Prisoner to your thoughts, fears, and worries. Spiralling and thinking about the worst, with no way out. Wanting to be seen, but afraid of reaction. Wanting to live as your authentic self, but worrying/knowing acceptance won’t be given. It is hard to find sleep when you mind is filled with thoughts…
After losing touch for so long, you find your next target to be an old friend. Though they are not that friendly anymore… This entry does a nice job of showing the conflicting feelings of the main character.
When in need to reassurance, different people find different venues. Here, it is a tarot reading, answering one’s doubt of being able to endure. Through the cards, the person find meaning, and solace.
Shot off to space to fight aliens, this kinetic piece describes one last fight, the one to end all fight. Geared up to the teeth, you are ready to destroy the ship that killed your friends. I like the hue choice in the background.
What would you give to be reunited with a dead lover? Their car? Your memories of them? The last years of your life? All of this to be able to once again laugh and dance with them… This is a very spooky and trippy retelling of the crossroad devil theme….
Between a mix of a love letter and a happier-ending retelling of the myth of Eurydice, this entry shows the yearning for a significant other’s love and attention, even if they give their entire life to them. In recognising one’s flaws and the other’s acts of love, one might brush away built-up resentment of missed opportunities.
How awkward it is to meet an old acquaintance… worse even when that person is your ex. And even though you “moved on”, it does not make it easier to see her face again. Though you are warned about the unbearable awkwardness this meeting is, it really does not compare to the actual thing…
This made me feel like I was watching one of those pretty bad C-list series where the acting is way too toned down and over the top and the mixing is not quite right, and the writing is just soooo cringe. 10/01 would cringe again,
You flee a party, where you know few attendants and are not around the ones you do, unnoticed. In the elevator to escape, something strange happens. The stops between the floor of the party and the building’s door are… not what’d you expect.
Still, in a stranger even turn of even, you don’t seem to care… you even rejoice in these unusual refuges (haha title). If you chose to stay on the elevator, things get even weirder, as you seem to be talking to someone (who? the narrator? yourself? someone else? I think they had a physical presence?). It is even unclear whether we even left the elevator at all.
I got to wondering: did something happen to us at the party that made us experience these peculiar events (are we high?)? Are those rooms metaphors/twisted imageries for real life (a walk in the park, going to bed next to someone, being alone…)? Are we maybe dead and living through our personal hell?
With the timed fade-in of the text and the many non-choice screens, it would have been nice if we could to back to the last choice in the Restart, rather than having to go through all of this again…
Being kind to oneself is a struggle, especially when things are tough, when you don’t like yourself, when the changes you make in your life/yourself do not pan out the way you want.
Even so, compassion is what makes us heal, what makes us stronger. For without it, we let ourselves be consumed and blinder by pain and self loathing.
The simplicity and writing of the imagery in this entry is quite painful… but so well done.
This is essentially the moral of this short horror game, as answering the messages will send you into very wild conversations. Depending on your answers, you may find someone accusing you of stalking, someone informing they have kidnapped your brother, someone threatening you to kill you…
It reminded me of Please Answer Carefully …
In May of 1998 1 , riots erupted in Jakarta, resulting in of the diaspora of Chinese Indonesians towards, among others, Australia. This is an important context to understand the situation of the main character and her family.
As the broken family settles in their new home, a strange dynamic forms, leaving the main character in a sort of emotional limbo state, avoiding acts that could tip the balance of this fragile situation the wrong way.
It is heartbreaking.
Four candles and a counter. The first disappearing as the second increases. “You don’t have time for this”, the game tells you. Though it is not time, but words that will limit how far you go… This entry took the limited word count rule and flipped it on itself.
The story is funky, as Charon welcomes you to his boat, but not before essentially mugging you of your belonging and stealing your phone (listen, there’s no internet down there, he got to entertain himself somehow). Fun humour!
Eat, sleep, drink some water, clean yourself, and look for your human. This is the sweet, sweet, life that Puck, the cute little rat, lives. Though it might feel quickly monotonous - there is only so much a rodent can do - the game invites you to try different combinations of actions to fill in the achievement list. A really cute game indeed!
In a mix between retrospection and conversation, this entry shows that no matter how dull work can be, a friend can make up for it. Even if you never met face to face. Or their handle changes every day. But nothing matter in this corrupted document shared with that one special person, who you know so much of and yet so little.
I like the eeriness of the setting (what if they are not as friendly? what if you are being tricked) and the writing made me chuckle too. The UI also was spot on!
While this could be a metaphor for how grueling and monotonous life could be, this entry takes instead inspiration from a familiar Greek myth. Forced to complete this Sysiphian task, memories from a former life, a previous time, start to pique your mind. You slowly uncover the mystery, pushing the boulder, again, and again, fighting the pull of the great stone or complying to its wished.
This whimsical entry, filled with dreamy illustrations, awards you three gifts, which you must choose from 11, to lessen the hardship of life. From doors to other worlds, food you can pay with memories, a pool with always the perfect temperature, to a literal slice of paradise, the hardest thing in this entry is both choose… and realise this will never happen in real life.
But one can dream…
In this small puzzle-y entry, you are faced with a tomb (which you may or may not manage to enter) and the memories of the man buried there. Memories you thought you buried as well…
I liked the puzzle quite a bit~
While working on samples, you notice strange things happening around you: misplaced test tubes, foul smell, unusual behaviour… Depending on the choice you’ve made, you may encounter one of four endings, each creepier than the last.
The entry is very atmospheric and the bareness in writing (in work notes) convey a lot more about the setting than it looks.
Really enjoyed this one!
While you can skip the typed text animation, the options are stuck being a timed, making you wait anyway. Changing the timed into a typed would be much nicer for replay value!
This short entry looks at the early stages of the lifecycle of a frog, from the moment they are spawned into the pond, to the day they leave it. You play as one of them, eating, wondering about your state, or wiggling around the muddy waters. As you grow, the season changes, and so are the dangers.
The entry is awfully sweet and delightful.
With the current ecological state of the world, it is hard not to feel hopeless for future generations. It is also quite normal to turn towards science/speculative-fiction to imagine a world in the far future where Nature has taken a priority, and technology can do wonders to protect it. Like a soothing balm, reminding us that things might work out after all…
This is this kind of hope that this entry is bringing forward.
Unprepared and inexperienced, yet tasked to engage in negotiations with a man who seems to have all and requires little from you.
You will need a few tries to find the right combination of choices to appease the Viper. Some are hidden at first… Choose the wrong one, and die(?). Take too long, and die(?)…
I really liked how the game was constructed. It was fun (in a bit of a stressful way). Though the ending page arrived just a second or two too early…
… is the “kindness of the vampire”.
Spared from the release of death, a vampire transforms you into her kind, no matter your protest. Forced to live as an undead, forgetting what it meant to be alive, human, despair takes a hold of you. Until you repay your Maker her kindness…
The imagery from the prose is delectable. A succulent and dark short piece.
This entry does exactly what the title implies. It is a simulator of battles between spaceships, seemingly infinite… well, unless you fail… which will happen (I have yet to win the game…).
Similar to Rogue-likes, ISBS requires some strategy in the actions you perform. Do you get closer to have a more accurate shot or evade to lower the chance of you getting shot? Do you deploy drones or shoot until you die?
You are also forced to choose which upgrade to prioritise when you do manage to shoot down an enemy, though you are limited…
Aside from the gameplay/mechanic, which is impressive in an of itself, the story hints at something maybe more sinister? You are told this is a simulation, and though you feel(?) pain, you supposedly do not sustain actual damage. Is this part of a larger experiment? What is that experiment for? A training for a future space war?
There is definitely more than the author lets on…
A Happiness jar is a fun concept, and can help give you a different outlook on life or remember the good times (like a time capsule). But the entry recalls some less fun things about the happiness jar, like delving into it too early, or recording ghosts versions of themselves, or plainly stopping adding to it.
The entry does an interesting job with the interactivity, adding more to the story, left in between the lines…
…or the humourous(?) adventures of Buck Rockford.
Bored out of his mind, Buck heads West in hopes to find fulfilment and meaning for his life. Though he has quite a few options on what to become, Buck never seems to find luck with any of those new position. Instead he job hops, hoping the next one will strike gold…
The entry is very anchored in the western tropes, and even through some of the underlying sadness, there is quite a bit of delighting humour. The twists made me giggle quite a bit.
In 5 small acts, the narrator describe its life from its creation, the first of its kind; its education, with questions about morals; its labour, surpassed by its children until discarded when useless; its retirement, passing in a blink of an eye; to its death, remembered or maybe forgotten.
It is an odd entry about the human condition…
Like Andrew’s previous entry in the jam, this one is again about you being a fan of a game, and wanting your team to do well in the tournament. You get to pick your rituals before the season starts and pray to the Basketball gods the RNG is on your side.
Then starts a lot of clicking, to go through each result of games your team plays in the knock-off stages. Even if the title of the entry warns you, it is still a bit tedious… I think a one passage per season, where each game result appears one below the other, with a timer, would have been a bit nicer?
I did like the name of the college team you are following (which is randomly assigned at the start of the game) and the strange rituals and superstitions from your eating habits to your cleaning schedule. Quite humourous!
A personal piece about depression, told from the perspective of the beast and the victim. Each POV have a choice between two actions, each affecting the other, before another day begin and the struggle starts anew.
“is it an argument if no one wins?” is what the entry asks before the game. In this text exchange spanning a few weeks, frustrations and insecurities lead this argument to both parties’ defeat. The jabs are meant to hurt, not really to solve the issue at hand.
It feels real… and quite sad.
Sprinkepills! is an absurd entry, where you are trying to sway investors to invest in your product: the Sprinklepills! or sprinkles for on the go. It is a very long shot - your product is not quite conventional - but you give it your all. You believe in it with all of your might, even if you do not always find the words to express yourself…
The desperation in the character has the meeting continues was a bit heartbreaking…
Still, this might be the most absurd business pitch I’ve ever encountered.
This is the story of three people - a mother, a daughter, and that daughter's sister - each feeling happy, sad, and angry following an undescribed event that changed the dynamics between those three individuals. In so little words, the author manages to paint quite the picture...
A Thursday, in space, and you have a delivery to make. Along the way, your ship is forced to stop a handful of time, during which a choice must be made. You may stay lawfully good or more of a chaotic mess. The result maaaaay affect future employment, though…
I really liked the added images to the page!
Told from the perspective of a cat this entry describe the cat’s owner going through the steps of grief with snippets, spanning multiple months, from losing… said cat. It is quite sad, but also lovely to read.
Inescapable nightmare, leaving you in sweat drenched sheets in the morning - this is what this entry embodies. From the seemingly unescapable groundhog-day like cycle, to the body horror or plain trippy horror descriptions, you must try your best to find the exit…
… and wake up.
I managed to solve the puzzle at the end… but it took me a while :stuck_out_tongue:
Following the Goncharov (1973) meme storm taking over Tumblr during November 2022, Creating Goncharov takes an alternative reality approach where this fake movie existed - though, you do not remember ever seeing it. Set to create a pitch for a remake, the game takes a deep dive into the lore and the many theories regarding this shitpost. More than that, Creating Goncharov is about finding passion in your work and creating relationships.
[Spoiling the story below]
(Spoiler - click to show)At the beginning, all is dull and irritating. The path to your place of work is slippery from the snow, your desk is in a cubicle nowhere close to natural light, and you expect today to be as boring as every other day you've had so far. 'Tis the life of an office drone. Except...
...you find an interesting proposition from your boss in your inbox - one you cannot refuse* - you are tasked to create a pitch for a remake of Goncharov and 1973 totally real and acclaimed movie, coined as the 'best mafia movie ever created'. Which is great, since you've been trying to get that kind of opportunity. But... you cannot for the life of you remember ever watching that movie.
* hahaha like in mafia movies
You are also forced to work with Al*, a co-worker you look down on - even though they are your superior - because you don't believe they deserve their job. Through exchanges with Al, it is not really clear whether they have seen that movie either, or whether they are competent at all (would they take your idea as pass it as theirs?). Still, they have readied some bare bone documentation to help you start.
*the author self-insert - do they believe the criticism/jabs they wrote about Al B? I hope not...
There is little time and not much to go on, but you still push through and ready a pitch for your boss by the meeting time. And...
...you fail. But, this was expected, considering your lack of knowledge about the original piece and of concrete information about the plot, themes, or scenes even. As if, you were meant to fail... who gives a remake of a well-loved movie to a newbie...
At this point, you can end... or, if you believe in this remake and your ideas, push through and proclaim you will make the movie by yourself if that's what it requires!
This is where strange things start to happen...
You go to work the next day, and things feel more... vibrant? The air is not as stale, the office is brighter, you even notice other people during your commute. More than that... your computer boots to the same day as before, showing the same unread email as when the game first started.
In some weird Grounghog Day scenario, you are given a second chance at putting your pitch together, retaining (partly) not only your previous found knowledge about the movie but also the (now-edited) documents Al had sent you the day/loop before. Speaking of Al, they are in this loop more forth coming with their view on the project, their knowledge of the movie, and their friendliness toward you.
While the first loop focused on the general overview, discussing the themes, or (re-)naming the characters, this loop gets into the nit and gritty of the plot. You and Al spend hours ironing out some details about the sequence of events and highlighting potential strong points. There is a lot there you can edit, and show off your creative liberties (with cycle links).
But again, this is not enough to sway the investors. You have not gone deep enough. You're still missing something important: you have not pitched the scenes!
And this is where the final loop comes in.
Yet again, the descriptions about your environment changes once more, and you notice how beautiful it is. It is also then that you notice the building's receptionist (and even remember her name and exchange some words!). The people in your mail box also change from jokey puns to actual names - they are not just nameless cogs but actual full human beings.
The exchanges between Al and you are also more developed and much more friendly. You even seem more passionate about the project than you ever were before! Even as you wait for your boss's email at the end of the day, you have the option to do something outside of work, even grow your relationship with Al.
Obviously, this time around, the pitch is a success (on my run at least, it is possible to fail a third time apparently). The movie is made, and wins tons of awards, setting you for a fulfilling career path.
With over 50 thousand words, the game covers most if not all of the "lore" created during this meme craze. In the many edits you can make, it manages to essentially give an overview of what had been discussed on Tumblr about this fake movie*. Depending on your choices, you may see quite a lot of change in variation down the line (inserting 'Marting Scorceses' as your name for example).
*with the plot document in the second loop especially, it felt a bit like those Archive documents the community created to keep track of all the lore.
The attention to details is both a major part of the gameplay, enabling you to "win" the game, and of the prose, through the subtle change in the environment/your behaviour outside of work. This is also a major point of the "movie", as recurrent details embodying time, religion, and change, were put in the forefront of the Goncharov discourse.
The change in tone in the interactions between Al and the player throughout the game feel believable, as you become acquainted with them and find a shared passion in the "movie". The exchanges of emails in the third loop is particularly lovely, and the scenes with them while waiting for that final email is quite sweet. Albie has a great command of their writing style in that area.
There were a few icks that made me tick a bit:
~ While the inclusion of a Martin Scorcese timeline (if you enter your name as MS) garners some fun responses and variation, it felt a bit out of place when other characters behave in the same way they would if the player has chosen any other name. It was funny that Mr. Scorcese failed the pitch, but the joke becomes a bit stale past the first loop.
[In the same vein, no one questioned me when I chose the same name as existing characters/employees]
~ Some formatting of the text made it sometimes hard to follow along. The fake shared GoogleDoc you edit in the second loop reloads multiple times but doesn't indicate clearly where you last left off (maybe a small translucent horizontal bar?). The email exchanges between Al B and the MC in the third loop could have distinguished better the bits between a description of a scene/dialogues and the emailers just discussing it (indentation, italics, change of font...). I didn't particularly liked the browser errors (a screen popup would have been a bit nicer and easier to close) or the lack of contrast when a popup was on screen (a slightly shaded overlay would have helped separate the elements).
~ The lack of discussion of the day restarting felt a bit like a missed opportunity. It might not have needed much, just the player getting a bit of anxiety or questioning their sanity from reliving the same day. Even if it can be brushed off because the player can have a do-over on their pitch, the fact that the player doesn't even flinch at the emails they receive is strange*. It could be interesting to have the player fail forever and only manage to break the loop if they give up on 'creating Goncharov (2023)' or it turns out their "win" was just a dream...
*there is just the words "Déjà vu" at the end of the second loop...
~ With the edits of the second loop being so extensive (building on the smaller edits of the first one), the gameplay of the final loop felt lacking. You essentially read through threads of emails between yourself and Al, discussing the scenes, but you have no choice in how they are described (they do have some variation depending on previous edits). I think it would have been nice (maybe for a future update?) if Al or the MC disagreed on some points (e.g: plot points contradict each other) and the MC had to make some choices. There is a bit of an unbalance in player input in the current version.
~ While time is of the essence, having to scramble to create a pitch in a few hours, the game doesn't "punish" you for taking all the time in the world (e.g. discussing every scene, even though Al presses you to wrap up).
Considering this game was made in less than 3 weeks (during finals!), includes this complexity in story, the high word count, a custom UI, and interactive elements further than simple choice lists, Creating Goncharov is very impressive. It is clear the author has put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this project.
From essentially using every fan theory out there about the fake-movie, to creating full scenes based on fan-edit posts on Tumblr, using the motifs (the clock, the apple, etc...) reblogged by hundreds of users, or including music created for the meme, Ablie has done their research and dove deep into the lore of the meme. They seemed to have spared no (effort) expense in creating... Creating Goncharov.
This entry shows three snapshots of a birthday, from a birth, to a fun 9th birthday’s party, to a lonely one at 40. The end is very much an emotional whiplash…
I liked the change of colours in the background depending on the passage you were.
When one’s future is bleak, it is hard to look at it in a positive manner. When one’s present is filled with anxiety about what could be done instead, it is hard to do things. And when one’s past is full of regrets or embarrassment, it fills the brain with what ifs.
All you can do is pet your cat…
A personal piece about not finding yourself (or anyone else) watching your face in the mirror. From the features you wish you had, to the wish to connect to the stranger who gave you the features you have, this entry yearns for connection (from one specific person) and finding identity.
Brought to face council for the murder/drowning of a boy, you are asked to answer those accusations. You have but little words in replies, always leading (it seemed) to your demise.
I think the interactivity aspect of the entry (hover-disappear + fake parser) overshined the story.
Unable to sleep, you visit this strange website, one you’ve been visiting quite often lately. For what the purpose of this website does, the URL is the giveaway (don’t worry the girl is not real).
It is gruesome, it is strange, it is trippy. Also reminded me of Flash games (RIP Flash…)
Kuddos on the very killer UI and visuals!
From a simple addressing mistake, a stranger sends you letters about mundane things happening to them, their worries, and hopes. Like some sort of bizarre one-way pen-pal, the stranger tries to reach out to you, a shut-in, or maybe just finds comfort in the knowledge that maybe someone sees them.
Inspired by Ancient Greek Epics, this interactive poems brings you the tale of Sparticus, a lover, an artist, a fighter, a hero… or is he all these things? The entry takes on a quite humourous approach to storytelling and myths recounting, where the hero can fail embarrassingly or depressingly.
As a small negative, I thought the images detracted from the text. Were they maybe more homogenised in style/colours, it might not have been an issue, but I don’t think they did much to help.
Your team lost key players and were beaten down to shame, regardless of the kids talents. But it does not matter, because you, the fan, get to control the outcome this time around! You get to choose how the team will do during the season. But one caveat: you can’t go unbeaten.
In some strange twist of Fuck Marry Kill gameplay, you have to choose the level of the team’s performance during three part of the season, giving you six possible endings. I wish things could be that easy…
Something happened before this entry, but it is not completely clear what. A child seemingly important. Lovers doomed to part ways. Religion at the centre of it all. And an uncertain and dangerous future. Thought the child’s name inspires brightness, there are dark warnings on the wall, rendering the piece quite melancholic for the mundanity of the moment (looking after a child and sharing a kiss). The attention to small details and sensations makes the story quite vibrant still.
Within this less-than-500-words poem, the author describes so vividly and beautifully a drunken attraction between two individuals at a party, soon moving to religious-like pleasures. The written imagery paired with the spiritual angle is quite exquisite. Very steamy…
Imagine a stranger accosting you to talk about wanting to fondle someone’s boobs.The piece is as bizarre as the situation portrayed. A bit strange, kinda creepy, totally unserious and silly.
You are a doll, held by strings, forced to dance, even if it break you apart. Let your strings take you and the dance will start again. Resits and… I liked the creepy setting, and the writing around the doll’s yearning for freedom and control over its body.
A very personal piece about finding comfort in the idea of celestial bodies when life is cruel, and when refusing to comply or escaping seems impossible. Still, like the stars, the piece provides a hopeful future, describing a better path shining ahead.
Baron, a half-tiger half-dinosaur who struggles with his identity and not being able to fit in either groups, decides to find his father for some answers. Even with an intriguing setting and clear themes, this piece felt either like a rushed story or a prologue where all these themes would be explored… Some passages were a tad confusing on where they were going.
Childbirth can be both a wonderful and traumatic experience, and the following period is no better. Nell gives a very personal and raw account of the anxiety, worries, feelings of not being enough, not having done enough, and struggles with one’s body not responding the way you wish it to. The use of the textboxes added onto the layers of those feelings, as they pile up on top of one another without a way to process them fully.
It is also a wonderful love letter to her newborn, a love pouring through those words, unending and unwavering through it all. It takes a lot of courage to be this vulnerable.
LttPR is a half-sequel to Litteraly Watch the Paint Dry (a meta Idle Clicker), during which you are looking forward to the weekend and hanging out with a friend. Through the limited options, neither answering the phone at first, you find out whether your friends are still truly your friends…* This short slice-of-life felt a bit too tell-instead-of-show for my taste… But I found the topic of friendship while being true to yourself had an interesting start.
*both friend appear in LWPD though they weren’t named at that point.
Trapped outside, a vampire is unable to find shelter moments before the sunrise. At the brink of perishing, they reminisce on their past, envy the birds able to fly away from this situation, and ultimately choose to resign themselves (or not) to their death. The writing paints a colourful tableau between the pain of the injured character unable to save themselves, and the beauty of a simple sunrise, welcomed by the songs of birds. The writing was also quite dynamic and fun, considering the situation.
On the surface, SOL is a prose poem of a benign conversation between friends about the sun, as they partake in sharing a joint on a summer evening, with the writing moving from concrete description to what could be interpreted as hallucinations. But, below, hiding under a mouseover macro, is hidden a secret message, unsaid words, repressed feelings. The descriptions of movements and bodies balance between a loving gaze to an almost obsessive and carnal survey through the narrator’s eyes. The writing is intoxicating…
the ride home does a great job at encapsulating the anxiety of a first time driver, realising how cars are essentially killing machines and bodies are just squishy flesh. This is enhanced by the author’s use of animated and timed text and through the formatting (moving from white to red was a good choice).
This piece has an intriguing premise, wherein a child sees (hallucinate?) their (dead? never existed?) brother when the latter cannot be perceived by anyone else. Feelings, sounds, and touches are only experienced by this child, creating an eerie dissonance that sends chills up a spine. The more I read this the less I was sure whether it was about grief or a hallucination through a horror lens… Either way, it works!
Moving on is hard, and harder still when you cannot forget their touch, when you keep remembering their voice, when you keep dreaming about being with them, when they keep coming back to your door… This piece portrays the ache the heart feels about break ups, the guilt of letting yourself down when you succumb to your desires, or the agony when you try doing the right thing, pretty well.
I liked the formatting of the text, with the fading-in giving some dream-like experience or the shaking of the word when your hands tremble. The choice to colour the words spoken was also a nice touch. Having to click after almost ever sentence to reveal another added to the excruciating experience shown in the words.
Trying to enter a palazzo at the dead of night is not an easy feat. Less so when you start from a gondola and there are no clear way to break in. Maybe that door or the window would do? I really liked the interactivity of the game, and how the puzzle is quite simple… if you examine your environment properly. I would play a longer version of this game in a heartbeat!
This piece engage with conflicts in a group chat in a very humorous manner. Through the limited word count, we get to learn bits of the characters and their relationship between one another. I laughed a lot while playing it.
Allocate your brain space to some themes, so the universe can hear a poem. Rinse and repeat to find all possible poem combination (and get the highest score? - I got 23…)
I didn’t really vibe with it personally but the mechanic behind it seems interesting.
Seated inside a train (going nowhere?), you reminisce about your childhood and how you realised who you were and who you were not. Through a smart change of background, or the animation of the text, this piece takes a humourous and maybe a bit self-deprecating approach to dealing with uncomfortable memories…
In a vibrant green, this small piece about love, care, and artichoke is light and adorable. I especially liked the writing depicting a very strange but comforting fever dream. It was very cute!
A tragic (and well executed) allegory for substance abuse, and incidentally generational trauma, depict dark and visceral thoughts of someone trying to fight their personal monster. But those monsters rarely die…
The use of shaky text and change of background were a nice touch!
Creation and destruction. Opposite forces fighting to prove the other wrong. Creating civilisations in hopes that one sticks around, but doomed are they all, never surviving under your hand. Yet the other continues this Sisyphean tasks, unbothered, uncaring. A civilisation will be born anew, and so will continue the cycle. Unchanged…
As people change, so do relationships. While you might get closer with old friends, you might also drift away. Sometimes, a friendship is like a revolving door, here when you need it and gone the next. Sometimes, it’s a reminder of who you (do not) want to be. Always, you hurt.
I really liked the formatting of the text, and how it appeared. I slightly with the dialog boxes would fit the formatting of the rest of the game, but that’s minor.
“You will fail.” “Inevitable.”
The game tells you from the start you will not succeed. No matter your questions, no matter you determination, no matter… You will fail. It is inevitable.
This retelling through a minimalist and almost sci-fi formatting adds onto the tragic myth of Icarus. Really well done.
A personal piece about the yearning to talk to others about one's past and trauma without receiving judgement or pity from the listener. But it is also about wanting to feel seen without having others making a big deal out of those things (even if rationally those things could be a big deal).
Your friend has been plagued by a recurring nightmare, and you are given the choice to pull the information out of him or speak to a (his?) support robot. Either choice brings more questions than answers… This felt like a good beginning to a mystery, maybe an investigative one.
It has some potential. But I did find the formatting and prose hindering my enjoyment of the story…
In this endless game, you play an unnamed goldfish, waking up doing some activities (from a choice of 4), having dinner, and doing it all over again the day after. But doing the same thing again and again does not always yield the same result… It was simple, short (at least when I played), and quite fun!
A slick, simple and futuristic design, a life-or-death (well, more like almost-death) situation, and a comedic robot… that’s what this entry is offering. Through its shortness, and the grim setting, there are some funny moments, some frightening moments, and some touching moments. The two endings hit a nice punch.
Pretending to be anything else but a human and looking at human nature is always a trip. And this entry is just that. From its bright funky colours, to the strange backgrounds and icon, JNH takes you on a strange ride of looking at the strange creatures that are humans. It is done humorously (with some good-old self-deprecation, and physical comedy) and very funkily.
Creaking doors, muffled steps, tired sighs, accompanying an understated and bare dialogue between two individuals (former/current lovers?) going through the same conversation, a cycle unending. The rawness of the words, enhanced by the formatting and timing of its appearance, packs a very emotional punch.
A very personal and deep entry. With its simple design and lowercase formatting, the raw writing delivers a snapshot of life of pain, worries, and loneliness. It is beautiful, tragic, and somewhat hopeful.
“You are too stubborn to die” was such a powerful line.
In the vibes of 80-90s video games, with tv effects, this binksi entry spans a short time, just enough to share a drink and catching up. The mundanity of the discussion coupled with the bright art is strangely nostalgic and warm. And the end is so very lovely… reminding us that life is too short, that we should enjoy the present, and that we should do things that make us happy…
A cyclical poem of trying to read/understand a note written in Romanian(?) - using links to reveal its translation. There is a strange air to this entry, a lot of unsaid and hints…
You are supposedly content with the work…
…and I was left confused…
Very much Kit's brand of trippy!
Through its soft but uncomfortable sound and its bare description, this entries does a good job of building and eerie atmosphere. You are truly alone there, and you should probably leave, but you find yourself questioning if you should maybe stay…
A short story in two acts: during your teenage years, when an older student gives you some advice, and later as an adult, meeting with that now-adult student and catching up. Strange form of prose. Confused thoughts during reading.
A strange take on “The Diamond Necklace” (“La Parure” - Maupassant)…
… and kind of meets Pokemon too.
CozmoPets is short and simple. Care for your pet, watch it grow, play some games, and get an ending. There are four pets to find and three endings to get, which depend on your actions. (I think the mini-games are random? Whether you win or not is by chance?)
The graphics and animations are sincerely delightful! I starved my pet, gave it unhealthy food, destroyed its psyche…
Overall, had a fun time!
This is a dungeon crawl, very similar to what you’d find in parsers, but made in Twine. You are a Barbarian, ready to do go on an adventure (or just hitting people…). If you manage not to die, you could solve the puzzles and maybe… open a shiny chest?
The writing of this entry is hilarious, taking the tropes of a barbarian character in your run-of-the-mill fantasy setting, and cranking up to dumb. The endings were very much to the tune of ‘Dumb ways to Die’…
A snippet of a conversation between you and a fae, where the latter really wants your name. You can give it some push back (names are important), but the snippet ends before the conversation is concluded. Leaving to wonder whether we succumbed to the fae’s demands…
“Last week, under inauspicious stars, Jacob fell from the Ceiling to his death.”
And with this killer hook comes three distinctive short stories linked to one of Jacob’s body parts: his bones, his blood, and his flesh. All of which are gruesome, and sad, and strange. But the writing is so enticing, you HAVE to know what happened to Jacob’s body!
And what a quest this game is.
After finding the key ingredient to your breakfast is missing, you must leave the comfort of your abode and go to the nearest store. Unfortunately, you have to pick one between an indecently wide array of choice AND converse with the cashier. Will you fail or succeed? It’s very cute and sweet, and one ending made me giggle.
I also quite liked the little visuals added to the page. It was neat!
Have you ever gotten a custom Rolex as a gift at random in a supermarket for no reason? Me either. But wouldn’t it be weird? Wouldn’t you need to talk about it to someone afterwards? This is the premise of this entry. A silly conversation about a strange event.
I liked the formatting of the link, when the next page had previously been visited. It made replaying the different paths quite easy.
Being in love with someone can be so wonderful and so fulfilling, but it can also be draining, to the point of losing oneself. Waiting for your lover, or a word from them, you read almost macabre description of your environment, mirroring the anxiousness you are feeling.
This entry raises the question: do you stay and wait, potentially destroying your wellbeing in the process, or move on from the person who does not respect your time, but go through this heartbreak.…
2020 was a weird time. Stuck at home, with only a routine to keep us sane (did it tho?), many of us essentially went through a Groundhog Day period. Feeling like we were stuck in an endless loop, unable to break out (especially, since we couldn’t go out).
This entry does a really good job at harnessing that weird time.
A childhood friend disappeared, but you will never stop trying to find some answers. A meeting has been set between you and a thing, which may have some answers. But you are not there yet…
The descriptions in this entry are very vivid and coarse, very much like the setting of the story. I also liked the use of the mouseover to change some aspects of the story.
Live or die. This is not a choice you are facing every day, but it might if you are stationed in an extreme environment. Live or die. There are morals that bind us together, but do they matter when one’s survival is at stake? Live or die… But you will always remember…
I will just say this: that choice… DAMN!
You know when you look out the window and you have a random thought about a thing you notice happening outside, and instead of moving on with your day you just continue thinking about it, making up scenarios and answering hypothetical questions...
This is what this game is: a sort of wild tangent about postal workers and what they do while delivery mail (especially what they talk about and who they talk to). It is somewhat absurd, quite comical, and lovely in its mundanity.
The formatting and UI of the piece (shaped like an envelop, filled with all the required stamps, and sometimes extra stickers) propose a fun way to interact with the piece (and mimic how non-sensical/linear those wild thoughts can become). I really enjoyed clicking on the different postal-related images, to move the story forward or cycle through options.
A very fun way of using the medium!
Quite a sad piece about the end of things (life), and the lack of acceptance. No matter your choices, the outcome stays the same - the end does not wait for an eleven-hour miracle. But you know that already. You know everything was doomed from the start. Yet, through the tragic end, there is a promise of never-ending love, of hope, and of meeting again...
A really great take on the 500 words restrictions by removing all words except the subject and the verb. Coupled with some fun formatting and animation of the text, you get a very entertaining short game about a bird wanting a snack.
The game has a handful of varied and fun endings to collect, making any new playthrough feel fresh!
Theo is a short cyclical piece about falling in and out of love, and doomed relationships. I honestly forgot one-two passages in that you were supposed to be in a dream, and thought I was stuck in a loop - surprisingly, either interpretation worked!
I really liked the way the text was formatted in the passages, like pushing the eyes into a funnel (though a bit more contrast in the links would have helped extra).
Sidenote: It really had Goncharov vibes, in the doomed love/relationship or running after an impossible goal…
This was a tragic and visceral piece, and still strangely beautiful in its violence. The small details, like the barista looking away or the brush of the fingers, are simple but convey more than meet the eyes.
A really nice touch…
This epistolary three part-er recounts the shared moments between two people through the point of view of your partner, their hopes and regrets as life moves on. It is quite bittersweet and beautifully written.
Two short puzzles taking on different definitions of virus (computer/biological), where you play as an investigator (hacker?). The puzzles felt quite reminiscing of the ones you'd find in an escape room. A neat idea in 500 words or less.
Through a fantasy setting, a fairy describes his experience of finding and accepting their identity in the face of adversity. It is quite emotional and raw.