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About the Story
Stars-crossed by time itself, will you still fight for your love as pure as snow?
Entrant - Single Choice Jam
This game was entered in several minimal jams, including the Single Choice jam. It is the author's first game.
It's a visual novel with one main image of characters with slight variation. The writing is intense and earnest: you, a time traveller, have been stuck in a loop over and over again with one person at its focus: your love.
The image used is high-quality and is very stylized, more anime-style. The story reminds me of fanfic in its genre conventions.
Though this is in the single choice jam, there's not really any story choices, but it is rewritten in as a 'restart/quit' option, which I actually thought was pretty clever.
I think if there's anywhere this game could be improved, it's in specificity. Right now the writing could apply to almost any time travel seting and situation: it could be a WWII era drama set in France, a turn of the century New York tale, a futuristic sci-fi set in China. And the lover could be anyone; we meet with only tiny details that fit in every life, like grabbing a cup of coffee or going on the bus. Part of that is intentional and works, in that it could be read as a MC/reader fic that needs to be vague to allow you to insert yourself. On the other hand, those incidents could be expanded on; there could be conversations that were had; there could be specific incidents recalled that are unusual and remarkable. IDK, I felt like I went off on this a long time but only because I feel like this author actually has a lot of talent and so I'm kind of imagining a really good story that could be written by them, if there were some more concrete details in it.
In this short visual novel, a time traveler resolves to leave her partner because she is distracting him from his true calling as a successful game developer—from her experience of alternate timelines, she knows that his career would have taken off by now if he hadn’t met her, and thus, for his own good, she must go. (He gets no say in the matter; the game does at least acknowledge that it might be selfishness on the PC’s part to make this decision unilaterally.)
This is the creator’s first release, and they created every aspect of the game except the music, which is impressive. The art is lovely and well suited to the fantasy-romance focus, and the prose has a nice flow, although it returns to the same metaphors a little often. The soundtrack’s melancholy music-box tune fits the mood well.
However, Threads of Snow’s single choice is a glorified “restart or quit?” and I was unclear on whether it was meant to have any in-universe implications. If it was, they didn’t really work for me—the PC might be tempted to loop through this short moment again and again rather than move on, but the player has little incentive to do so.
I also think that I would feel the dilemma more keenly if the partner’s potential illustrious career was something that brought more concrete good to the world than game development, or even if it were an artistic career in a field that wasn’t so notoriously grueling. The partner’s relationship with the PC really might bring him more happiness in the long run than a game dev career would, I suspect.
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.