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Angst done about as right as you can get, August 17, 2015
The short version of this review: in Rameses, you wait around and talk to some people where the conversation is pretty much already decided, and life stinks, though it's way less blunt than that. I've written shorter reviews about much longer games.
It's certainly less blunt than my college-years "I can't move" style fiction. I wrote long stories and short stories, sure there was a much bigger difference than there really was. I probably had the right idea why I shouldn't write too much of it--it's just no fun for anyone involved, done straight up, though all the same, having a more public outlet might've helped me move on earlier.
And Rameses does capture this frustration, much better than so many recent Twine games that discuss emotional issues. It's beyond just useful therapy. I admit I shut the game down twice when starting just because I didn't want to put up with a bunch of profanity TODAY, if you please, even in a short game. So I had my own Rameses moments with respect to something that is not really a great task, abstractly.
What gives Rameses most of its success is how the conversations are structured--there is only one end, regardless of how many clever things you may think up that you could say, or someone more spontaneous could say. It deflates a convention of text adventures where someone's funneled into asking about something, and we sort of buy into it for plot purposes, or suspend disbelief, or appreciate a fourth-wall joke. But here, there's a helplessness whether you go with or fight the flow, like when (Spoiler - click to show)you're forced to guess the price of a pair of a rich fellow student's jeans, which he may be lying about anyway. This was the high part for me--NPC "lets" the PC and the player have "fun," or pretty much all the fun they deserve to have, and they have nothing better to do...right?
Now pretty much any work can shut off hope and it'll be given some credit for ripping open the honest underbelly of human nature by some crowd. I've read far too many of them, but I think Rameses deserves good credit for the brief episodes where you daydream, or observe things you can't speak about, or have chances where it'd make sense to say the obvious, and fail. It's just that Rameses's scope is limited by its own subject. There are only so many ways you can say you utterly have no choice. Rameses finds many and executes things well without overstaying, but my snarky side has to wonder how many people who hail it are partially praising themselves for getting through it unscathed, because they remember being a bit like that in college or high school, whether or not they swore too much in public or in our minds.
Not that I'd have the courage to say this to Stephen Bond's face, mind. I'd be too worried he'd laugh and, truthfully, say "That's the point." Or something even cleverer.