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by Ed Nobody

Suspense, horror

(based on 11 ratings)
6 reviews

About the Story

All you remember is that you're cursed. Cursed to spend every night writhing in pain. You've come here, to this desolate farmland, to find a cure. But now that you're here, you might find more than you wanted.

Game Details


69th Place - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)


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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
An intriguing game about curses and memory but with UI issues, October 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

Okay, so I think I spent more time on this game than almost any other, but about half of it wasn’t playing.

This game uses immersive text, graphics and sound to tell a story of a man with amnesia and a curse who meets another man with the same. Together the two of you must discover a cure to your awful curse.

The overall storyline seems interesting, but this game is inaccessible in many, many ways.

Several other reviewers online have already talked about the slow text (including someone who screenshotted a tweet of mine about slow text), but I still want to talk about it a bit.

Slow text has essentially one use: in short, mostly linear contemplative games like Congee. And even there, Congee loads the whole thing at once, instead of the typewriter effect that’s distracting.

Long games with slow text can be excruciatingly painful to read. But at least you can get through them.

But if you have to replay a game frequently, then being able to quickly click back to where you came from is essential.

This game is full of frequent deaths, is very long, uses slow typewriter text and has disabled the UNDO button. It does let you save, but to know that you have to click on the ‘controls’ button at the beginning of the game to learn that L brings up the load screen, and then you have to guess that you save at the load screen.

These decision weren’t just casual decisions by the author. They are completely baked in. I often go through and modify game code to disable slow text (that’s how I played Lux two years ago, and loved it!) This game’s code absolutely embraces the slow text. It’s baked into every phrase. It’s cooked into a macro hidden deep in the javascript (not the game’s in-Twinery javascript sheet, but the html file itself). Disabling that macro gets rid of all in-game links, as those are timed to appear when the text is done. Restoring the undo button doesn’t restore the picture, just a blank box.

After about three hours of trimming it down, I got it to work. I raced through the game, clicking and feeling euphoria. And then I realized that the main mechanic the game relies on is broken.

According to the walkthrough, if you pick up books you’re supposed to be able to ‘rewind’ at key decision points. But that didn’t happen for me.

I looked at the games Twinery code, and even this is obfuscated. All of the structure is hidden because boxes have generic names (like passage 1-1) and are lined up in exact geometrical rows to hide the overall structure. But I finally found the correct passage, and it has code for the rewind to display, but it doesn’t work.

I picked through the rectangles, trying to glean the story. It seems to me that this game is about (Spoiler - click to show)vampires, which explains (Spoiler - click to show)the reaction to garlic and holy water, and the lack of a reflection.

As a final note, I saw that the author had included a secret debug code accessible by typing D. That suggests to me that the author found his game too tedious to play through repeatedly, and ended up using the debug to test it.

I’ve seen a few other people do that in this comp. I really recommend playing through your game from start to finish the way that you anticipate others will throughout the development period.

Also, another tip that’s been very helpful for me: start beta testing before you’re finished with your tricky coding, so that people can give feedback on the concept. My first version of Alias the Magpie that I sent to JJ Guest for testing was pretty crappy, but I wanted to see if the idea worked. You can even just shop the idea around before implementing it.

In any case, it took serious programming chops to create this game, and I’m impressed by the author’s abilities.

-Polish: Has several errors.
+Descriptiveness: Is very descriptive.
-Interactivity: Very frustrating.
-Emotional impact: The UI frustrations made it difficult to get invested.
-Would I play again? Not without several changes.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Infernal Timed Text, December 16, 2020

There's a lot to like in Savor: rich, evocative (if a bit florid) prose; a pleasing visual design including well-chosen graphics to lend weight to the atmosphere; a compellingly mysterious setup that then delves into slow-burning horror.

But while I appreciate all of those things on an intellectual level, I found it a struggle to actually enjoy any of the game's strengths. Actually, that's an understatement - after all, some games aren't meant to be enjoyed as such, and that's just fine. But playing Savor is straight-up frustrating thanks to two design choices which combine to create a punishingly unpleasant experience.

First, the structure of the game encourages several replays. While the narrative stakes are high - (Spoiler - click to show)you're trying to help a pair of chronically-ill, suicidal characters - many of the choices you make along the way are rather mundane. Do you perform this chore or that chore? Do you wander over here or over there? Incongruously, these mundane choices have outsized import to the plot, determining whether or not you find the items you need to progress. And there's little hope of determining the right choices apart from hindsight, since, after all, many of them are mundane things with no obvious gravity. Thus, in order to reach a decent ending, it's likely you'll need to replay the game with the benefit of knowledge from at least one failed playthrough. This, by itself, is in my view a minor detriment. I'd rather a game not rely on this kind of recursion to inflate its challenge/complexity unless there's a specific narrative reason why it makes sense, in-universe, to be replaying (e.g. there are stories about time travel that make sensible use of this device). But it's not a huge deal and I could overlook it...

...Except for the second thing. The game is chock full of timed text that can't be skipped. Mercifully, it's fairly quick. It wouldn't have been terrible if this was a one-playthrough game.

But put these two design choices together, and you have a game which forces its player to spend a whole lot of frustrating time just passively waiting for the game to scroll through stuff that the player has already seen once, twice, or thrice.

The author definitely has a vision worth seeing. But making it so taxing to actually explore that vision was, I think, a misstep.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A slow mood piece with killer bugs, December 11, 2020
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2020

Oh, lordy. Savor is a generally well-written horror game with intriguing mysteries, mostly-solid prose, and some beautiful presentation elements, but painful design choices and egregious bugs made this perhaps my most unpleasant experience in the Comp so far.

Right, let’s start with the good. The setting is a unique one that made me eager to learn more – the protagonist is an amnesiac suffering from a poorly-understood but crippling disease, who wakes up in a sun-blasted corn field and eventually strikes an uneasy détente with the farmer who lives there and also has the same disease. There are occasional flashbacks that hint at what’s going on, and an alternation of laconic dialogue with lush landscape description that’s a little Faulknerian. Usually this is effective – here’s an early bit:

"The sky a gradient stretching up from a deep mauve horizon to the violet highs above. Corn stalks line your horizon, menacing, ragged and gnarled yellow heads blooming with the threat of death."

Occasionally it tips over and feels overwritten (soon after that passage, there’s this: “The door finally frees itself from the constricting embrace of its jamb and tiredly swings inward, granting you access”), but for the most part the prose is one of the main draws here. And there are nicely-curated, blanched-out photographs that serve as the background for the text and help underline the alienation, pain, and flatness that define the protagonist’s existence.

Sadly, now we’re on to the litany of complaints. All that well-written text is presented in timed fashion, and while it displays quickly, it still makes replays really frustrating. You get occasional, signposted choices that are the most significant ones, but there are also many smaller ones along the way – most of which are about physically navigating a space, but the environment is usually described in a confused way so that I wasn’t sure why ENTER HOUSE and OPEN GATE were meaningfully different when I was (I think) standing at a house’s outside gate. Progression seems very arbitrary – at one point, (Spoiler - click to show)the protagonist committed suicide without any clear prompting for what I could have done differently – and when I tried to rewind by clicking the big “replay” button that popped up on the achievements page, the game crashed. And when I started poking around to try to figure out where I got stuck, I found the myriad bugs lurking below the surface.

So, in the course of playing the game, you’ll occasionally accumulate books or journal entries, sometimes for unclear reasons (you’ll just get an out-of-world notification like “You acquired Book: Book1”). On first play, I was confused about how to read these, but it turns out that if you type ESC (there’s no button or on-screen menu icon), you’ll hit a screen that shows a bunch of collectibles including journal pages, books, “fragments,” and “rewind tokens.” If you click on one of the books, you’ll get a bit of (I thought badly-written) poetry, a notification that you’ve unlocked one of those rewind tokens, and an error message. If you click on anything else, you’ll get taken to a page not found error that permanently halts progress since there’s no undo (hopefully you figured out that when the menu says you can type L to load, actually that takes you to a screen where you can save too). And while from looking at the walkthrough the intended path through the game involves using those rewind tokens to explore every possible choice – it’s really not clear how this works in-universe – I found their implementation was pretty spotty and they didn’t always work.

I struggled with Savor for another half hour or so to see if I could get to some reasonable ending, and even dove into the source code to see if I could read where things were headed, but the frustration won out in the end. The story, at least as far as I got, really only has one note (slow physical decline in a depressing landscape, with a monotonous existence broken up only by even more monotonous chores), so that combined with the technical issues made for a really unfun time. There are indications that there might be a more hopeful ending possible (Spoiler - click to show)(much as in another game in the Comp, you’re a secret vampire, and immersion in holy water might be a cure) but I lack the fortitude to push through any more of this punishing experience to get there.

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