Restless

by Emily Short profile

Horror
2018

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A debut for a part of Spirit AI's new character engine, November 2, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

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!)