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About the Story
A dead body floats down a river into the heart of an infuriating small town. As the locals grapple with the murder, they must also contend with the breakdown of cause-and-effect and the realization that the world is not for them anymore.
31st Place - 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2013)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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I found this game frustrating. It seemed to suggest a lot of depth hidden beneath the layers of my protagonists self-hate and self-disgust, but I didn't ever experience a pay-off.
The game gives clear indications--either in mis-labelling days or contradicting itself, or openly telling you--that you can't trust the narrator.
In a way, the game felt a little like a murder ballad--a body is floating down the river in a small town, and at times I think my character has committed the crime. At times, I think he killed a woman--at other times, a man--and then I wondered if it was my body in the river.
Although all three seemed vaguely possible, none seemed particularly plausible. There is a disjointed mention of hanging another person at another point, but no clear connection between the hanging and the body floating.
There are multiple endings, but I couldn't see a real relationship between what I was doing and what led to those, so it felt random.
The writing didn't always make sense to me. I had a hard time parsing the meaning in several sentences, and found myself trying to entertain the perspective of the character. Instead of telling me what happened, or what my character experienced, the game told me how my character felt. Without more context to make this meaningful, however, I felt a little pushed. I suspect if I lived in a despised small town I might have a little more perspective to appreciate the view point, but as it was, I felt like the feelings and emotions were being pushed on me instead of shared.
(This is an edited version of a review I originally wrote for my 2013 IFComp blog.)
Vulse is a hypertext. I would say what I think it is about but I don't know what it's about. I wasn't sufficiently engaged by it to play through it more than once, and that first play eventually began to feel like a chore. The protagonist sloughs about in an apartment with a collection of abstract and angry thoughts and perceptions. These are rendered with deliberately crafted language, a sort of free verse stream of consciousness. The prose wore on me over time, not inherently, but because it didn't seem to take me anywhere. There was little sign of the literal stuff mentioned in the game's blurb, of the Twin Peaksy corpse which floats into the town. Perhaps it was down other paths.
My primary beef with Vulse is that I could find no point of interest that would stimulate me to engage with its prose. There was no sense of a character, or inner or outer reality, or of a plot or story or mystery or something else to compel. This left just a series of links leading to different strands of language. Ability with the language needs to be in service of something, but I'm afraid I couldn't find Vulse's something.
This twine game was entered in the 2013 IFComp. It takes about 10-20 minutes to play.
In this game, you play someone confined to an apartment with a few furnishings like a futon, tv and game console, like Howling Dogs, you spend each day interacting with the same items in a confined space. However, each interaction brings on a strange sort of surreal narrative.
Some parts were done very well, while others felt less effective. I couldn't decide if it was genius or madness.