Rescue at Quickenheath

by Mo Farr

2024

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- aluminumoxynitride, April 4, 2024

A polished adventure, April 3, 2024

This game hooked me with the premise and vibes on the Spring Thing page, and it definitely delivered! I was drawn in right away by the lovely presentation, with a fun old-fashioned font for the title screen and pleasant spring-like colors. (The UI is well done throughout, with in-game documents set off with different fonts/colors.) The beginning clearly establishes the PC’s goal, and then it’s up to you to get to work accomplishing it!

This is a Twine game with a world model, so there are various locations you can visit and items you can try using in different situations. I enjoyed the puzzlely elements, which were simple enough that they didn’t slow down the story’s momentum. The game also balanced imbuing the choices with a sense of stakes (at one point I certainly thought I’d messed up and was in for a “game over”!) and leaving room for experimentation. The worldbuilding was fun (especially the details of the fae embassy), and the writing suits the PC in a way that often made me smile—e.g., “Your heart lifts at the sound, like a string of pearls from around a rich person’s neck.” It’s altogether a very polished work.

A personal quibble is the selectable gender (of both the PC and the LI). I'd assumed based on the characters' names and the LGBT tag that they were both women, and "lady thieves" seemed like a very fun premise, a la Lady Thalia, so I was disappointed to find that their genders were blank slates. In cases like this, where gender is the only facet of the character the player gets to choose and where it has no effect on the game beyond what pronouns and labels get used in the text, I’d always prefer to have characters that the author wrote with pre-established genders (or lack thereof) in mind, because those characters tend to feel more real to me.

On to some more mechanical things, in the latter half of the game, once you’ve (Spoiler - click to show)entered Fairy, there's much less autonomy in where to go or what approach to take, so it felt much more on rails. I also found it odd that the game didn’t acknowledge some of the information the PC (Kit) finds—(Spoiler - click to show)when you read Aubrey’s journal she all but says that she’s in love with Kit, but Kit doesn't react or acknowledge that in any way. Same with the letter to Aubrey that starts “Dear Sister”—despite this clear indication, Kit doesn't seem to know that the letter-writer is Aubrey’s sibling. Finally, I would have liked to learn more about Kit’s backstory and motivations, as they remained largely a mystery throughout, and as mentioned above I always love a richly detailed character!

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