Under the Bridge

by Samantha Khan


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Number of Reviews: 6
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Billy Goat Gruff Reboot, November 25, 2022
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Adapted from an IFCOMP22 Review

A very short mood piece with some sharp if narrow observations to convey. As a web-driven experience I appreciated the integrated mood audio and the restrained but clever use of font (especially dug the protagonists’ ‘voice’) and layout. The art was hit or miss, with the notable exception of the various renderings of the monster protagonist, which I found compelling and evocative.

Taken together with the prose, the whole package effectively conveyed an underlying melancholy behind a handful of setpiece encounters. The experience was brief - in a half hour I completed 7 or 8 circuits and got 5 different endings, with little left unexplored (I think). This tight scope and short duration achieved a slightly different effect than many “Play Again?” prompt games. Rather than a time loop or full narrative reset effect, this rather felt like exploring a multiverse where we are granted a god’s eye view of all possible outcomes of this combination of character and situations. While simultaneously building some larger understandings.

What sparked my joy was how these runs, most especially the endings, played off not only each other, but more significantly off the protagonist and NPC expectations and biases that are revealed across the runs. A single run showcased a moody cause and effect chain. Across all runs, a full and consistent picture of the protagonist, the world, and human society is assembled and contrasted to intrinsic biases. Because this feels like the ace in the piece’s sleeve, I am reluctant to write more clearly about it. Thematic spoilers are real things too! Suffice to say there is more subtlety here than its form and scope would suggest.

I don’t want to oversell it - this is a very brief piece, with limited meaningful choices. It is not a puzzle to solve, or maybe is at its best when it doesn’t have to be. I appreciate that it builds some sharp commentary and effective mood with relatively few moving parts. It is a melancholy short story I was glad to spend time with, but probably won’t need to revisit.

Played: 10/4/22
Playtime: 30 min, 5 endings
Artistic/Technical rankings: Sparks of Joy/Seamless
Would Play Again? No, experience seems complete

Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless