Reviews by E.K.
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View this member's reviews by tag: CYOA dating sim David Whyld ectocomp Geek horror humour Jim Aikin meta multiple playthroughs new authors philosophy retro romance sci-fi spring thing Spring Things twine western
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You are about to die. There isn't anything you can do to change that. Or, just maybe, you might get a second chance.
In a bizarre and unnerving limbo, the somewhat sleazy salesman Everett Rhodes is offering you that chance. "You made some mistakes, friend. Bad mistakes that have crippled your life. Today you can fix them. TODAY you have the opportunity to SET MATTERS STRAIGHT. Just shake my hand and everything will be YOURS to decide.”
The game (or Rhodes himself) puts you in several different characters' shoes, as you attempt to work out just where your life went wrong in order to put you in this position. It is highly probable that you will need to play through the game multiple times in order to reach a good ending - requiring not just a second chance, but a third, fourth or even fifth. However, each playthrough gives you a better sense of your characters and their relationships, and the satisfaction gained from doing a little better each time outweighs the minor annoyance at quickly re-solving a section you'd already completed.
There were some situations where I felt that the options available for solving the puzzles could have been expanded, or that the solution would not have been effective in real life, but full realism is impossible to achieve without sacrificing gameplay, and no solution was entirely counter-intuitive. There was also one particular glitch that I noticed towards the end-game, where a description from another part of the game appeared, but it did not affect the gameplay aside from breaking momentum a little.
A minor warning: many of the characters are unpleasant and hold contemptible views, and the author himself warns that the game contains bad language and violence. While Whyld certainly is not espousing these views himself, he gives minimal moral narrative in favour of reflecting a realistic form of character. And the characters are well drawn, as you get a good sense of their lives even as you spend little time with most of them.
Overall, this is a very well-written game with a compelling premise. Ultimately it is a game about free will conquering determinism. This is made more interesting when considering the relationship between player and player character, the latter of whom inherently lacks will at all. In a way, you the player are the enigmatic Rhodes, holding cards your character can't see, but equally it is Whyld who flashes you the smile as you struggle, nodding, and saying: "Just shake my hand and everything will be YOURS to decide.”
The phone rings. It's Felicia, calling to arrange your dinner date for tonight. But this is no ordinary dating sim, and it will be no ordinary date. Some sort of cosmic force/evil wizard/time-murderer/computer game designer wants your date to end in disaster.
Despite not really being a dating sim, I'd still describe this game as "cute". The writing is funny, with touches of surrealism and a few pop-culture references thrown in. The game seems bug-free, and the graphics are retro but effective. It's played in multiple small doses, though you will find playthroughs are interconnected, and each gives you more of a clue as to your aim, and how to achieve it. It's ultimately a form of Choose Your Own Adventure, but with enough branches to feel your choices matter each time. Well, sort of matter.
Talking too much about the game, however, runs the risk of ruining the experience, so I will put the rest of these thoughts into spoiler tags. (Spoiler - click to show)I played through the game several times, and found no good ending. I have a feeling that the only good ending is still bad for you, which made me find a surprising emotional and philosophical element to an otherwise straight-ahead funny game. Sometimes the best course of action is selflessness, and sometimes things are just not meant to be.
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