Savor

by Ed Nobody

Suspense/horror
2020

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Number of Reviews: 6
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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.