You are SpamZapper 3.1

by Leon Arnott

2021

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Member Reviews

Number of Reviews: 3
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
The private lives of plugins, October 9, 2021
by ChrisM (Cambridge, UK)

I went into this game not expecting to get out of it as much as I did - its blurb doesn't do it justice. But I found it completely absorbing. It starts off as a cute little story about the secret lives of software plugins - you’re a spam filter, tasked with reading an endless procession of emails and deciding whether or not they’re worthy to pass into the inbox of the human whose computer you inhabit - and then develops into a fascinating journey through time, space, memory and the entangled relationships of sentient beings (both human and artificial).

At its heart, it’s a love story, and a very well-written and frequently very funny one at that; if that wasn’t so then I could imagine the earlier section of the game, in which you read your way through a steady stream of faux emails and simply have to decide whether to ‘zap’ or approve them, would become rapidly quite wearing - but I found that the writing was skilful and entertaining enough to avoid that. After the preliminaries, the game opens out and the story and characters come to the fore, the non-human protagonist and their friends being, for the most part, a far more likeable and interesting bunch than the humans they serve; its their attempts to influence events in the outside world that drives the narrative along but their interactions with one another that provide the lion’s share of the entertainment. It’s a hard task to elicit empathy with a spam filter and the equivalent of Clippy, but somehow this game manages to do it, while offering up a thoroughly entertaining story and a few (very easy) puzzles along the way.

This is an author who knows how to spin a rattling good yarn and keep readers along for the duration; I took me around three hours to get through the game and I felt it was time well spent. Linearity seems quite high and the sense of player agency quite low - that might bother the sorts of players who are inclined to replay choice-based games to explore different branches, but I tend to play games like I play life, largely blind to the paths not taken, so it didn't worry me. The implementation in Twine is carefully done with a few different backgrounds and sparing use of text effects - simple and very effective.

Altogether I found it completely enjoyable. I’d certainly recommend this to anyone looking first and foremost for a good story.