Savor

by Ed Nobody

Suspense/horror
2020

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Quite a confounding savor, December 2, 2020
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2020, choice-based, horror

Savor is a choice-based horror game by Ed Nobody, published in 2020. The main character seems to be afflicted with a curse that makes his body ache and mind forget. Delirious, he finds his way to an old farm house, somehow convinced thereís a cure there.

Like in many other choice-based games, you simply click on text links to progress. The story is generally linear - most sections have one or two branching paths, but they eventually lead back to the same point. The game has a streamlined inventory system as well - the decisions you make during the game as well as any items you find impact which of the multiple endings youíll end up with.

I think the writing is pretty good. The farmland setting as it is described has an eerie beauty and mild quirkiness to it, which creates a contrast with the more horrific moments. The game can get very dark very fast, for instance, (Spoiler - click to show)suicide is featured in more than one of the endings. I saw three endings, which for me wasnít enough to solve the full mystery here, but (Spoiler - click to show)the story gave me strong Silent Hill-vibes with how there seemed to be two different versions of some locations - one nice and one hellish.

Actually playing the game is a bit cumbersome. The game extensively uses timed text which cannot be fully skipped - only sped up. I also had a somewhat bad time since I missed the ďcontrolsĒ screen, which is the only place the game ever tells the player that they can access the menu with Ďescí and load / save with Ďlí. I generally just avoided using the menu after one instance where the game seemingly restarted on its own and I lost all my progress after I entered the menu.

The cryptic, often surreal nature of the story can make it hard to predict what will happen as a result of your choices. Itís a pity that replaying and trying out different branching paths feels a bit arduous due to the aforementioned timed text.

The game uses a lot of multimedia - background images, music and even sound effects. The imagery consists of low-saturation photos with a bunch of filters on them. The photos themselves are usually quite good, although the visual filters donít always look very smooth, and something about the resolution and zoom level might be a bit off too. (Spoiler - click to show)Something is added to the background during the farm house nightmare sequence, but I can barely see what it is because of how the picture is cropped by the edge of the screen. I canít say if this is intentional or not, though. Could my browser (Chrome) or some other factor have caused the graphics to not work properly?

The music is varied and atmospheric. The most frequently heard track is a nearly uplifting piece with a conspicuous rhythm - I canít say I was expecting something like that in this context. Many other bits of the ambience and music bear some resemblance to Akira Yamaoka, especially the eerie track that plays during night time. The music eventually grew on me a lot.

My biggest gripe with the multimedia is that the game doesnít have a very fine-tuned pacing. Itís not uncommon for it to go from something very intense with a dark music (Spoiler - click to show)and even jump scare audio clips of people screaming back to a carefree vibe with no warning. Some of the use of audio is rather ham-fisted too. When the multimedia works properly, it complements the writing, but during the poorly handled moments it can cheapen it too.

Overall, I think this is close to being a worthwhile horror IF. The ingredients are all there, and the music adds a ton of charm and personality to the game. Some better tutorializing would be helpful to prevent people (like me) from missing important keybindings. I might still give this game another try after the competition to find out its remaining secrets.