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About the Story
You've been haunting old Mrs Fagles for decades. Now she's sold the house, and the new owner's moved in. Sylvie's broke, bad at plumbing, and anxious about everything. And with a living, breathing, fretting roommate, how are you supposed to rest in peace?
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First, it's fun that Spirit AI is putting out a Halloween game.
This is a unity game, and it's big: 140+ mb. It has graphics, courtesy of Tea Powered Games, and text, courtesy of Emily Short.
The basic framework is a nice wallpaper-y background with a visual novel-style character you're speaking with.
You have three forms of interaction:
-selecting a topic (I found 3 topics in my playthroughs). Different topics allow different conversation options.
-selecting emotions (up to 6 or 8 or so, each an on/off button). These are independent of each other, so I could, for instance, choose to be curious, open, angry, sad and hungry. These alter the conversational options in a procedural way, sometimes unlocking more.
-the conversational options themselves. Some, with an exclamation mark, have a greater effect on the game.
You play a ghost who is haunting an old house. At first, you have great difficulty in speaking, but that is gradually relieved (unless you mess up like I did on my first play-through.)
This game has many endings and quite a few topics.
Overall, I was impressed by the flexibility of the engine. I could see this being integrated with 3d Unity games, with physical location or costumes being a fourth way of influencing topics or replacing one of the methods above.
The procedural text had pros and cons.
At its least enjoyable: clicking a radio button on and off rapidly would cycle through the options, changing words like 'abject' to 'inconsolable', for instance, exposing the guts of the game.
At its best: when used as intended, the proceduralness lets the game respond to your intentions in a pleasing way that would be horrible to write as an author.
So you only really see it when lawnmowering or experimenting. But in this game, I found it easy to get lost, as I frequently had trouble guessing what the effect of my actions would be. So I ended up seeing a lot of the 'guts'.
As a demo of the system, it worked very well. As a story, I found it interesting and worth playing several times. I'm glad this was in the competition, and I hope a lot of people sign up to try out the engine (I know I'm interested, if I can find the time!)
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