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About the Story
Imagine a horror novel where you get to make the choices and decide how the story plays out: Welcome to American Angst, a text-based multiple-choice survival horror interactive fiction, combining RPG elements and turn-based combat with dark humor and biting satire.
Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Story - 2017 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 2
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You win American Angst by winning fights. But the fights are just grinds: keep clicking the "hit" button until you randomly win or lose. If you lose, you'll have to go back to the last checkpoint, click through to the combat, and try your luck again. Eventually, you'll succeed.
But the result of this is that none of the combat options mean anything. There's no puzzle, no risk/reward tradeoff, no meaningful tactical situation. Once you grind through the combat, the game runs on rails, with a few arbitrary "left or right?" choices and a few "how brutal do you want to be?" choices.
As for the story, it's an amnesia game, which means that we know nothing about the player character. As a result, it's difficult to care about this character, even when the "surprise twist" is revealed. There are several endings, apparently selected at random based on earlier choices, including one where the bad guy inexplicably explains everything, with hundreds of words of non-interactive exposition, and then (Spoiler - click to show)kills you.
This game was nominated for XYZZY awards for Best Game, Best Writing, and Best Story. I don't see it.
This game was not what I expected. With warnings about graphic violence and explicit language, the title 'American Angst', and the logo of an American flag-colored smily face, I expected something like a mix between 'The Purge' and 'Saw' and anti-Donald Trump revenge horror.
I got something else instead, and was pleasantly surprised. This game is an amnesia-based horror game that tells the story passively through set pieces, until the end when all is revealed.
It uses extensive styling, with special 'emphasis' boxes, an 8-bit looking battle interface, and special designs for links and devices. Profanity occurs about once or twice a screen, but my chrome extension blocked it easily.
The game saves automatically, and takes you back to checkpoints if you die.
I found the story compelling, and was surprised by the ending(s).
The game has rough patches, though. The credits don't list a single tester, and it shows. There are several mis-spellings (such as the word 'matrace' for mattress) and small grammatical errors (like 'the flashlight doubles for a nighstick' instead of 'doubles as').
Similarly, there are many game elements which should improve interactivity but end up not doing much. There is a panic stat which doesn't seem to do much besides letting you choose between having a panic attack or not. The battles are more random than strategy based. And choices aren't informed, some literally being 'left or right?' with no other information, making it feel like you don't have control.
Having had this game tested would have caught some of these issues. As it is, though, this is a well-done game and one of the best Twine games of 2017.
If you enjoyed American Angst...
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"Walking away from a picnic, you are suddenly caught in a country storm. You must protect a bridge from being destroyed. An ultra-linear game." [--blurb from The Z-Files Catalogue]
PollsThe following polls include votes for American Angst:
For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Settings of 2017 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2017 which you think might be worth considering for Best setting in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here...
For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Games of 2017 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2017 which you think might be worth considering for Best Game in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here will...
For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible individual NPCs of 2017 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2017 which you think might be worth considering for Best Individual NPC in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned...
This is version 12 of this page, edited by Zape on 29 February 2020 at 10:03pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item