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A Very Special Choose Your Story, March 14, 2022
General Recommendation: If you can take a joke, then you should play this game. It’s a well-crafted story that does exactly what it set out to do, with a number of humorous moments.
Preview: Can you make good choices and survive high school unscathed? Hint: No.
I usually hate games that force the player against their will into poor choices and then try to waggle their finger at them, but I guess I can respect a game where self-righteous finger-waggling is the entire point. To those of you looking to make a game designed to forcibly teach the player a moral lesson, take warning: This game already takes the concept and does it in a better and neater way than it has any right to. You are unlikely to succeed in a similar task.
Part of this game’s success comes from the fact that it admits right up front that this is what it’s trying to do. Many of these other moralizing games try to “trick” the player into thinking the bad outcomes of their decisions were really their fault. This game is much more honest; it makes it clear to the player that you can’t win, you’re just along for the ride, so buckle up.
This story really does an excellent job of toeing the line between the absurd and the poignant. I’m constantly torn between feeling like “No, high school is nothing like that” and “Yes, that’s exactly what high school is like.” The absurdity allows the game it’s unique humor, but the humor in this story is very grounded in the real dilemmas reall high schoolers face, making you stop and think even through the surreal nature of the game.
Is this game actually successful at its purpoted goal of teaching wholesome life lessons? Well… kind of? Certainly the pitfalls the narrator can fall into do have less-extreme real-life parallels, and it is a fine example of what not to do as a high schooler. Perceptive high school readers will be able to look past the over-the-top nature of this game to appreciate the genuinely valuable advice it’s trying to offer.
The game certainly succeeds when it comes to entertainment value. There’s a sort of morbid fascination involved to finding out what exactly is going to kill you this time around. The fact that I genuinely enjoyed this game when it’s part of a genre and style I usually can’t stand is a testament to the writing craft and intelligence that went into its construction.
Overall, this is a very well-crafted game. It takes a simple concept, and packs a lot of high-quality humor and satire into a short game. The writing is delightfully scathing, and the game makes very good use of the choose-your-own-adventure format to tell a unique story.
And now you know!
-Each branch ending with the moral of the story is a particularly clever touch. Each of the morals takes a legitmate moral (“Don’t do drugs”, “Don’t overestimate your ability”) and turns it on itself in an ironic and biting way, all while pointedly ignoring the fact that the player has no real alternatives. It also provides a well-utlized avenue for jokes that might otherwise be tough to fit into the narrative.
-Man, why do people drink bleach when there are perfectly good bridges availiable in most towns? It’s basic risk-reward analysis.
-The narrator’s parents don’t show up more than they need to, but when they do, they serve to emphasize then extent to which the narrator really has no support systems. And they add humor.
-Each of the various branches in this story are short and sweet, culminating in an amusing final scene. The length makes it easy for the player to quickly skip from path to path, and makes the story easily readable. This is a concept that does well from having more width than depth.
-Fun with acronyms!
-This game is successful at leaving the player with a sense of frustration, as there’s the sense that it would be so ridiculously easy to solve all the narrator’s problems with merely an ounce of common sense. Preventing the player from doing this is sort of the point, and it’s an effective narrative device.
-“You’ll probably expect a long and graphic detailed scene… well sorry, use your imagination.” Lol.
Mastery of Language
There are some sentence structure issues, but not too many. Those that do exist actually contribue somewhat to the story’s conversational tone.
Really excellent, there’s a very wide variety of different endings the player can get.
Player Options/fair choice
Deliberately and masterfully awful.
CONCLUSION: An excellently written story that satirizes both high school and those that try to give shallow morals about it.