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In The Details

by M.A. Shannon

Contemporary, Horror, Humor
2023

(based on 11 ratings)
7 reviews

About the Story

Tonight's your big night, Mx. Soon-To-Be Superstar and nothing will stand in your way. You've had everything planned out for the last year leading up to now, and with all the big names coming to tonight's concert, you cannot wait to put your musical talents to bear and finally live a life of luxury. Nothing will stop you, not even the Devil Himself...?

Content warning: Death, dismemberment, religious mention, verbal abuse, mentions of drug use.


Game Details


Awards

68th Place - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)

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Number of Reviews: 7
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Engaging enough, October 4, 2023
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: choice-based, horror, Texture, IF Comp 2023

In the Details is a short choice-based story by M.A. Shannon, published during IFComp 2023. The story is about a vain musician who is about to enter superstardom (Spoiler - click to show)thanks to the power of the Devil, who has inconveniently come to take back what belongs to him.

This is the first time I've played an IF that's been developed on Texture. It has an interface where you drag 'n' drop buttons on top of highlighted text. I found this slightly awkward to do while playing on laptop with a touchpad-mouse, but otherwise, the system seemed pretty easy to use and suitable for this kind of streamlined choice-based gameplay.

The prose is pretty good, creating a sense of locale and character without expending too many words. The story itself is rather brief, though, and I don't feel like it has a lot of meat to it. The game description has both tags "comedy" and "horror", but I found the story neither particularly funny or scary. It has a few graphic moments and a life lesson, and that's pretty much it.

The game description says the estimated playing time is around 30 minutes, but for me it felt shorter, even though I replayed the game and managed to reach 3 or 4 different endings. There was one moment where I wondered if the design was buggy, (Spoiler - click to show)mainly the point where you have to choose between telling a truth or a lie, but being honest does nothing. I couldn't tell for sure if this was supposed to create characterization or if it was simply an unimplemented button, but this could be my unfamiliarity with this system too.

Overall, I found In the Details engaging enough, albeit a little short and light.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Idle hands, November 30, 2023
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2023

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review I posted to the IntFiction forums during 2023's IFComp).

I swear, the Comp randomizer has a sense of humor: immediately after having me play a possibly-unfinished game about not being able to see, it serves up a Texture game that features the engine’s signature miniscule-text-on-action-buttons bug and which explicitly presents itself as a teaser. In the Details has a solid premise, updating Robert Johnson’s legendary deal for the social-media age, but the implementation’s a little wonky and it ends just as things are getting interesting. I’d certainly play more of this story, but what’s been entered into the Comp isn’t especially satisfying on its own.

The opening sequence sees your rock-star-on-the-rise rolling into your upcoming gig in style, then blowing off your manager; it helps establish the main character as a conceited, thoughtless brat, but then, I already said they’re a rock star so I’m repeating myself. The elements of a strong beginning are here, but the scene could use another layer of polish: the manager says you’re too drunk to perform, but that level of inebriation hadn’t been conveyed through the earlier text, for example, and the prose throughout conveys some bold, if not garish, imagery, but has more than a few awkward moments. Here’s the description of entering the venue:

"A gold-speckled red carpet yawns at your feet, all the way down the procession and into a set of double doors whose windows glow with a heavenly facade."

Or a sequence where you wow some backstage listeners with your virtuosity:

"To their gaped jaw and compulsory applause, you close your eyes and take a deep bow. You live for this, and maybe [your idiot manager] will appreciate what you do just like the others."

I found the Texture drag-verbs-to-nouns interface worked okay, but not great, throughout this sequence. In particular, sometimes the distinctions between the available actions felt too fine to easily parse: in one of the first passages, you get to choose between “inspecting” and “considering” various nouns, with no clear indication of which might move the narrative ahead. Later on the options do become more straightforward choices, which were simpler to navigate – but here the stakes are quite high, with one wrong move leading to a premature, and quite violent bad end.

(Complete plot spoilers follow; it’s nothing you can’t guess by reading the blurb and looking at the cover art, but still figure it’s good manners not to completely ruin the twist).

(Spoiler - click to show)Because yeah, 3/4 of the way through, the devil shows up; you sold your skill for guitar skills, and now the bill has come due. The writing gets much more engaging at this point, as the author clearly starts having more fun – we’re told that in a bit to intimidate you, the devil “rolls his neck slowly. Purposefully. Vaingloriously.” And you do have that high-stakes choice. But if you guess wrong, he simply murders you (albeit in lovingly metal prose); if you guess right, you get shunted into a series of noninteractive passages that work as an ending cutscene setting up the final “To Be Continued.”

Based on this finale, the game rallies sufficiently to make me interested to see what comes next; there’s promise here, but also some rough bits, so hopefully the author refines the existing prelude even as they work on the next chapters.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short game with unfinished story about a supernatural deal gone wrong, November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a Texture game, where you drag actions onto nouns.

It also seems to be incomplete, or possible part of a series, as it includes ‘TO BE CONTINUED’ at the end.

You play as a famous and talented musician who has had one of the best years of their life. Leading up to their biggest performance yet, a deal they made comes due.

Overall the characters were interesting and the story a timeless one that has been retold in many ways in many ages. It felt a bit slight; there is a complete narrative arc, though. I almost wonder if it would have been stronger without the ‘to be continued’.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
There's a nice detail, October 3, 2023
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

Of course I should have known there would be a devil from the title alone, or if I'd actually looked at the cover art instead of just clicking that 'Play' link. In In the Details we take on the role of a young musician, a burgeoning pop star, who is about to play the biggest gig of their lives, the gig that will catapult them to serious fame. It's slightly weird to soon find out that we're drunk or high -- not a smart choice. But a few minutes later, we understand the immense stress that the protagonist must have been under. For all their talent is actually borrowed from the devil, and they failed to return it on the agreed upon day. Well. That can't end well. And guess who that is, waiting for you in the dressing room?

In the Details is a very short game. Depending on your choices, you can be eviscerated immediately. have your neck snapped, or be forced to perform with no talent at all. The latter seems to be the 'canon' choice, since it's the only one to suggest that the story will be continued.

It's all very fine, but it's a very short game which is over by the time we're getting into it. Perhaps the most interesting thing about it, something that really got me to think, was the purposeful use of a bug. When the devil, still in disguise, asks you to tell him the secret of his success, you can drag either "Truth" or "Lie" to the option. But dragging "Truth" doesn't do anything! I don't know how Texture works, but I assume this is just the result of a programming bug... except that the bug must be intentional. There's simply no way you can tell anyone this truth. It's close to Texture's equivalent of a grayed out choice in ChoiceScript, except that here, you won't know about the impossibility until you try it.

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Those Low Down Dirty Soul Repossession Blues, January 5, 2024
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2023

Adapted from an IFCOMP23 Review

The last entry in the IFCOMP23 Texture work review sub-series “Playing with Matches” This is a riff on the Robert Johnson/artist deal with devil mythology. It is aided by tremendous cover art, maybe my favorite of the COMP. The myth has staying power because of what it implies: that there is something so compelling about music (despite being an endeavor honestly tangential to our survival as a species) that even our immortal soul is a fair trade. Yes, all of Art is kind of included but really, MUSIC SPECIFICALLY has this primal pull that we are tempted to believe… maybe worth it? I mean we GET the tradeoff even if unwilling to make it ourselves.

It’s been a while, let me recap Texture (again). Lots of possibilities in drag and drop UI, deep presentation challenges thanks to the chaos twins Font Dancing and Text Hunting, keep it on a super short leash. I am happy to report that the twins are all but neutered here, to the piece’s credit. It exerts tight control on page size, both adroitly shifting to a new page before shrinking and providing limited space for new text to hide. This is far and away the Most Important thing to control in Texture, well done game. It is less successful leveraging the the drag and drop interface (with one exception) to do anything a Twiney choice-select couldn’t accomplish.

The exception was a choice to (Spoiler - click to show)tell the truth or lie. At first, I thought it was a bug that the game wouldn’t accept one of the choices. It got a wry grin when I realized, no, the protag is INCAPABLE of (Spoiler - click to show)telling the truth here. It was a nice use of interface to catalyze a narrative escalation.

The text had a different problem which interestingly only manifested SOME times. Depending on the order of your command selection, sometimes the paragraphs jarred with bad transitions. But sometimes the paragraphs worked regardless of order! I love that! The fact that it EVER worked seems to suggest the author paid attention to this, but was unable to make it work every time. I really appreciated the effort. (I actually wonder if Texture makes this harder than it should be. Can an author not define new text ordering tightly? Must it be at the whims of the player only? That is a high degree of difficulty!)

The opening quote felt right for the piece: “No amount of talent trumps hard work.” I been telling my kids the same thing for years! From the jump, we are positioned to disdain the protag and his easy short cuts. Which honestly is no surprise, given the setup telegraphed in the title, art, blurb and protag’s whole attitude. That’s fine, it is clearly not intended to be a surprise.

Unfortunately, given how much we see of the work’s cards, there isn’t really ANY surprise in how it plays out. I got three endings which seemed to be the entire space. Died twice, had my talent repossessed and humiliated myself on stage once. None of those endings gave even the slightest tweak to what I expected when I first connected PLAY to STORY. Regardless of the work’s other merits, that made for a Mechanical exercise. Props for reigning in the Texture pitfalls, but more consistently managing dynamic text ordering, and more considered use of the drag and drop (and text bubbles!) would be needed to elevate this thing. Also, not leaning hard into the mythical MUSIC side of this felt like another missed opportunity. Here, the protag seemed more concerned with the trappings of success than making music. This might just as easily have been “trade soul for good at chess.” Robert Johnson’s myth is so compelling because of the MUSIC, not the Art of the Deal. (sorry)

Played: 11/5/23
Playtime: 20min, three endings - two deaths, one walk of shame
Artistic/Technical ratings: Mechanical, Mostly Seamless
Would Play After Comp?: No, Experience feels complete

Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless

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