Choice of the Vampire

by Jason Stevan Hill


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An ornate and sprawling blend of the supernatural and history, April 1, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours

This game is like a text version of the Winchester mystery house. That house was built upon continually for over 30 years, with constant extensions added, some leading nowhere, others connecting with each other in strange patterns.

This game was one of the earliest Choicescript games, and with that has some of that early-choicescript strangeness (now manifested primarily in its large number of stats and the occasional habit of the narrator addressing the reader directly). Since then, though, it has been expanded on considerably. This game contains 4 sub-games, two of them free and two not. So it's simultaneously one of the oldest and one of the newest choicescript games.

Its overall structure is very different from other titles from CoG. It has a periodic narrative arc. Instead of tension rising to a peak and falling in one grand swoop, it features a single vampire moving about America throughout the 1800s, experiencing a variety of historical events in addition to dealing with vampire society and the curse of immortality.

This episodic structure gives a sense of deja vu and ennui to the main character, as you see so many historical fads and people come and go.

Just like the Winchester house, there are a lot of dead alleys and lost construction. I tried beta testing the game before, but died in the second sub-book. Playing it for this review, I died twice at the end of the fourth book. Similarly, there are huge chunks of the story that can be skipped out on, such as romances, and the opening is completely different depending on your chosen background.

In another departure from Choicescript games, this game addresses race in a very direct way. This game is largely a history of black people in America, with each chapter containing large segments in relation to black history: the liberation of Haiti, the Exodusters, Cuba, lynchings, vodou, the treatment of former slaves after the civil war, etc. Black characters speak in heavily accented text, and for most of the game they are the only ones to do so, with Germans, quakers, and Jews receiving some accents later on.

A game that deals so intimately with black history and black stories risks embracing stereotypes or profiting on stories that don't belong to the author. However, I've seen in the forums mention of several sensitivity readers, although I don't see them listed in the credits the way that Fox Spirit has done (might be worth considering). From what I've seen from PoC authors on Twitter, many consider sensitivity readers a way to make sure that PoC voices are heard, considered, and paid.

The history in this game is detailed and heavily researched, especially in the fourth chapter. If you're interested in silver arbitrage resulting from the Coinage Act of 1873 or the invention of the modern celebrity via Oscar Wilde, the 4th act should appeal to you heavily. The third act deals with a lot of letter-writing and numerous social engagements with other vampires leading to political maneuvering. The 2nd act deals with the Civil War and deprivation, while the first has the most material dealing with you, yourself, as a vampire, and your feelings about that decision.

This game will appeal to a certain type of reader, those who consider themselves interested in philosophy and history or fans of vampires in general.

The game is not yet complete, but due to its plot structure you can pick up and stop off just about anywhere in the journey. A unique choicescript game, huge and detailed.

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