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About the Story
The beach is a strip of heat.
Nominee, Best Use of Multimedia - 2017 XYZZY Awards
30th Place - 23rd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2017)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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This game is premised on a simple but interesting concept, one that requires the player to press the spacebar every few seconds (or every few fractions of a second, as the pace increases) while reading the narration above, which consists of a few words at a time. This narration is automatic - it would be cruel, after all, to require the player to perform more complicated actions and press the spacebar at the same time. There are, however, a few instances where the player is required to decide between two choices by using the up and down arrow keys, which is reasonable, especially with the approaching need to make a decision signalled by the use of capital letters in a different font. The need to press the spacebar is also removed for the temporary periods during which the protagonist reaches shore.
Yet, even with these measures in place, I found it difficult to keep up with the story because the distance between the text and the timer bar is quite large. This combined with the fact that the text is relatively small meant that I had to continuously divert my attention to a multitude of tasks, namely following the timer bar, reading the text, and consolidating my understanding of what was going on. No doubt I missed some nuances of the story because of this.
Also, I didn't find the story very well-written. I thought the use of a small number of simple words was appropriate, but some lines were vague and felt as though they didn't play any role apart from adding to the already rich description. Instead, what the writer could have done was to dedicate more prose to the characters of the story (the people on the beach especially), giving a more in-depth explanation of their actions and intentions.
Still, the music is excellent. I liked the echo-y feel of the swimming music, as well as the contrast between this and the airy, outdoor noises played when the protagonist reaches shore.
This game has you tapping the space bar in rhythm to simulate swimming. As you continue to swim, the game's story progresses. If you stop swimming, you get an alternate version of the story. By progressing between swimming and not swimming, you finish the story.
It's a magical realism story centered on one moment in time, as you swim from one beach to another. I found it effective, but the interactivity wasn't quite what I liked.
This felt like swimming. It felt like being alive. I flickered with the screen.
It's not a puzzle to solve, exactly. If you are looking for a parser based "traditional" IF game, look elsewhere. This is more of a thought experiment, or maybe a spirit journey.
I see this game as being similar in feel to For a Change by Dan Schmidt, if only in the minimalist yet evocative writing. It was paced in a way that kept me. I experienced this fully immersed in the experience, and I arrived at the end changed, a different being.
Without giving too much away about the process, I will say that it is in some senses more of a meditative exercise or a fully immersive poem than a game to "win" or lose. This in no way detracts from the fact that this is outstanding, brilliant, and something I will be recommending for clients I work with as part of art or play therapy.
Minimalism that works--my favorite thing.
May speak to some on a more personal level than others. Resonating, and clear as a bell.
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For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Multimedia of 2017 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2017 which you think might be worth considering for Best Use of Multimedia in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not...