Surface

by Geoff Moore profile

2014

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Number of Reviews: 3
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting, April 25, 2014
by delano (Canada)
Related reviews: spring thing 2014

The story here mixes a fairly standard domestic conflict with a maybe less standard alien invasion plot. It works well enough; no particular comments on the plot.

But the maps in the game are inspired. I'm not very familiar with Twine, but I haven't seen this done before. The sprawling map of the dark forest when it is reached, is startling in its beauty, a great centerpiece to the more minimal maps.

Unfortunately, the house and office floorplans are much more cleanly drawn than the maps for the alien settings. Combine that with downright vague directions like "up" "down" and "beneath", which are used around the vessel, and the two halves of the game seem unbalanced.

The gameplay flowed nicely. The human character's repeated choice between making stuff up and being honest felt like a natural choice to me, as did the alien's choice between eating things himself and sharing.

There were a few things that I expected to be interactive but turned out not to be. Taking the pills seemed to have no effect on the later story, as the narrator later quips that the human character should have taken the pills to (Spoiler - click to show)prevent a psychotic break.

Additionally, after (Spoiler - click to show)absorbing the bear, I was told that I would not be able to hold onto it for very long, but I was uncertain of whether this was a problem I actually had to solve, or just part of the narration. I'll have to replay and see what changes.

Edit: the two-star rating seems a little harsh in hindsight, and I was using it to reflect my feeling that the game was uneven in parts. Since there are no serious flaws, the game is probably closer to 2.5, so I've updated it to three stars.

Note: this rating is not included in the game's average.

Comments on this review

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David Whyld, April 15, 2014 - Reply
I really wish people would add spoiler tags a little less in reviews because this is a classic example of a review that's impossible to read without clicking on each tag in turn. The review literally makes no sense if you read it as it is.
delano, April 25, 2014 - Reply
Thanks David,
I've reduced the spoiler tags a little.
Mike
streever, April 15, 2014 - Reply
Hi Delano,

I think the story goes beyond a 'fairly standard domestic conflict' actually; I'd suggest re-reading it and looking at the depth of emotional problems, family conflicts, grief, and reactions from co-workers. I don't want to spoil it; the actual story has a lot more punch and narrative heft.

The actual domestic conflict seems to be:
(Spoiler - click to show)
I believe his wife died in a car crash, possibly caused by him while driving drunk; this explains why he didn't drive for so long. It explains why his daughter is loving but alienated in a way that is unusual for a teen--she treats him almost like a child.
It also explains why his co-workers removed pictures of his wife from the office. Why he can't look out the window easily at the car lot. Why he keeps whiskey under his bed... etc.
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