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1st Place - Spring Thing 2014
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Number of Reviews: 2
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This game won Spring Thing in 2014. This game is written using ChooseYourStory, which focuses on half-pages full of text with a few small choices that then affect your stats, like Choice of Games mechanics-wise but a bit different stye-wise.
You play one of two brothers betrayed into slavery. You enter a slave ship and train in Rome. You might a variety of people whom you have relationships with, and you have a few skills like strength and speed.
The writing was okay, but the story was interesting. It does suffer from some stereotypes; there are african slaves who speak in broken english, and are all strong and athletic, while the white slaves are praised for being intelligent and good at strategy despite their weakness. A fair, blue-eyed redheaded girl is a main love interest, and so on.
A game about slavery in ancient Greece, with an impressive range of moral and strategic choices. Each situation is quite unique, and similar situations have prominent differences. Even the lengthy training sessions mix games of combat and skill. This wide range of choices is a real feat on the part of the author, and the best aspect of the game.
I found the characters to be more developed than the setting, and I suppose this makes sense in a game in which the player's score is defined entirely on their standing with the other characters. The game is mainly (but not entirely) set in a practice gladiator ring, which diminishes the historical aspects of the game.
The minimal setting is only really problematic because the story makes a point of the characters coming from different places. Any geographical setting is defined relative to the characters; countries are not so much a time and place, but a set of personality differences.
Take, for example, Lula's claim that Ethopians forbid crying. This is a believable cultural difference that contrasts Greece and Ethopia, and it is a good way of characterizing Lula's emotional strength, but it hardly evokes Ethopia as a place.
Combine this lack of setting with casually phrased dialogue and narration, like "Need a partner?" and "The crowd goes wild", and the game seems a little too modern.
Despite that, there are a few serious discussions concerned with the history and nature of slavery. I'm not an expert, but these discussions seem accurate. For example: (Spoiler - click to show)Caecelia questions whether the Gods destine some people to be slaves, and (Spoiler - click to show)Titus' mistress encourages you to buy freedom at the end of the game. All good efforts at describing a historical situation, and with a few more efforts like those, this could be a very good historical game.
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