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About the Story
Forget ghosts and ghouls. In this haunted house, you have to talk to people.
15th Place, Le Grand Guignol - English - ECTOCOMP 2023
Number of Reviews: 2
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This is an altgame, like Depression Quest or Will Not Let Me Go, a game that seeks to bring understanding to a mental illness or other aspects of life that need awareness.
In this case, the topic at hand is social anxiety. You sign up for a haunted house tour that can result in cash prizes. Along the way, though, you encounter several social situations that cause you extreme anxiety.
The situations do seem well-designed to cause a lot of anxiety. I don't have social anxiety, but two of my close relatives do, and this really reminded me of them.
The game is fairly short, though, and I didn't get a feel that the ending was strongly connected to the rest of the game; it felt abrupt, perhaps due to the 6 hour time frame for the game? In and of itself, I thought the ending was effective, though.
Other than that, I found the game well-written, thoughtul, and interesting.
The theme of the game is made clear from the start that this is about having social anxiety and how it affects you. You are described or you experience situations where you are forced to interact with others, which makes you uncomfortable due to the awkwardness or embarrassment you take from it. Navigating the world is difficult, and the game doesn't shy away from telling you that.
Still, even with this disorder plaguing your life, you find yourself going to a haunted house, to win some cash... if you manage to stay inside during the allotted time. So you can go about, explore some rooms, meet some long-forgotten acquaintances (and be embarrassing), maybe help someone and get a treat in return... trying your best to stay collected to get that prize. The scenes in the haunted house brings some needed tension and unsease, as you'd expect from this kind of place
However, the game suddenly threw me off, changing the scenery without warning, before ending quite abruptly*. Felt like a whiplash...
It leaves quite a few threads behind and brings more questions than it answered.
*so I have a whole theory about it [in spoiler]
(Spoiler - click to show)My theory about the abrupt switch is that, you were not really going to a haunted house to win some cash but actually going to a clinic to get the help you need for your social anxiety. But, your brain tricks you, making up this whole weird spoopy scenario to actually get you there. Because, for some reason, you can't get yourself to go to therapy or something...