I have selected many decisions. I have met many Victory Ends and many Death Ends. Yet there are still many decisions to select and ends to meet.
With You Will Select A Decision, Brendan Patrick Hennessy has created a fun and funny romp Soviet era mortality tale for children, translated poorly into English.
I laughed, I cried… out with laughter, I felt something deep inside, when my stomach hurt from laughing. Most of that is hyperbole, but I did laugh.
You Will Select A Decision‘s first decision is to choose which story to play, “Small Child in Woods” or “Cow Farming Activities on the Former West.” The homepage does tease (taunt) you with “Other Books in This Series,” particularly “It Is Very Good To Be The World Skateboard Champion,” which sadly does not exist.
I played through “Small Child in Woods” with my very pregnant wife. I mention that she is very pregnant not as a humble brag, but to show that You Will Select A Decision is safe for all, even those in my wife’s condition, which is very pregnant. We had a very much amount of enjoyable time with playing. (These are the kinds of sentences I want to write in this review but that would surely annoy the reader and is an entirely inappropriate style for a review.)
My very pregnant wife and I reached a number of endings in our play through. The best feature of You Will Select A Decision is the way the game makes it easy to backtrack and try different paths and discover new endings.
“Cow Farming Activities on the Former West” I played through myself and more thoroughly explored the options. The large number of endings is impressive. More impressive is the quality and entertainment value of all these endings.
Often, Interactive Fiction is a solitary experience, but with You Will Select A Decision I would recommend playing with a partner or even in a group. You can all take turns selecting a decision and laughing with your very pregnant wife.
You can find the SPOILER-Y portion of unWinnable State's review of You Will Select a Decision here.
I was not looking forward to playing Stephen Granade’s Will Not Let Me Go. The description of the game is short: Dallas, Texas. 1996. Fred Strickland has Alzheimer’s.
My greatest fear is becoming afflicted with Alzheimer’s, or some other form of dementia.
Most of my life I have been prone to forgetting words, particularly nouns, and it seems to be getting worse as I get older. I am 41. I once called shampoo ‘hair detergent.’ I often have panic attacks when I can’t find a word, afraid that the word is gone forever. I do not have clear memories of much of my life. What I do remember is usually in the third person, things I know as facts but not as personal happenings. Most of my daughter’s early life just isn’t there.
None of these things indicate that I am more susceptible to dementia but they weigh heavy on me all the same.
In Will Not Let Me Go you take on the role of Fred Strickland, a man stricken Alzheimer’s, at various points in his later years dealing with his condition. These vignettes are presented out of sequence, one of the many tactics Stephen Granade uses to evoke a sense of discomfort in the reader. Passages are often halted mid sentence, sitting unfinished, forcing you to make the effort to continue the story, the same kind of effort Fred must make to stay focused and present. Sometimes words on the screen change as you make these efforts, and sometimes not, it can be hard to tell. I don’t know how many time I missed such a change before finally noticing. Realizing this, that I may have missed many of these changes, I had to put the story away for awhile. I was overwhelmed.
Will Not Let Me Go is a deeply sad work. This is quite often achieved through dramatic irony, scenes played through with you knowing what Fred has forgotten, and you can not help him. But at other times Granade drops the irony completely, putting you right there with Fred in real time as he experiences gapes in time, missed moments. Both approaches are equally effective in breaking the readers heart.
Despite this sadness, Will Not Let Me Go is a story about love, and about wanting the best for those we care about.
You can find the SPOILER-Y, and much more personal, portion of unWinnable State's review of Will Not Let Me Go here.
Big ol’ disclaimer: This is my first Twine game. I am very skeptical of the system. I do not think it is for me. I am very much partial to parser based interactive fiction.
I have been putting off writing this review because I do not like Horse Master. There are a lot of great things to say about the it, Tom McHenry’s writing first among them, but ultimately the work does not resonate with me. This being a work in Twine has a lot to do with my feelings. Twine as a medium doesn’t grab me. But my problems with Horse Master goes beyond the medium.
Ultimately, it did not feel like any choice I made really mattered. I understand that there are at least three different endings to Horse Master and, as such, the choices during play do have some sort of mechanical effects, but as will be discussed in the spoiler-y section, the differences in the ending seem superficial.
A few positives, though. As mentioned, Tom McHenry’s writing is great, the world he created is stark and strange, the revelations revealed throughout satisfyingly bizarre. From a purely story point of view, Horse Master is worth a read. But as a work of Interactive Fictions, it falls a bit short on the interactivity.
You can find the SPOILER-Y portion of unWinnable State's review of Horse Master here.