The Withering Gaze of the Earth

by Emily Worm


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Number of Ratings: 6
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1-6 of 6

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Theatre of the Mind, July 12, 2023
by JJ McC
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2023

Adapted from a SpringThing23 Review

Played: 4/8/23
Playtime: 30min

Depending on how you approach it, this one either packs a lot into its short runtime, or not enough. Itís a Monster of the Week kind of setup, an in media res supernatural investigation with personal stakes. Itís also very linear, very few choices to make and most of those adding details without changing anything. For sure, the narrative is the star here, not the game play.

To the narrativeís benefit, the writing style is smooth and confident, and plays with itself in fun ways. At various times it subverts itself with humor, and elsewhere falls victim to the powers of the monsters it is documenting. The latter in particular is a really fun tweaking of form that works better in IF than it might on the page. All in all, the writing style is a solid foundation to support the story.

But the writingís biggest strength I think also ends up ham stringing it. The narrative leans a lot on implied back story, loric details tossed out without much explication, leaving the reader to speculate/fill in the gaps. It is a powerful technique, and the details dispensed are singular, odd, evocative and intriguing. (Spoiler - click to show)Rainwater Death filters, reality bending creatures, god shards, there is a lot to tantalize, but because itís new to you but not the characters you only get oblique hints. It really engages the readerís imagination.

Unfortunately, the same remove that makes the backstory so tantalizing is also applied to the main character and their relationships. This works less effectively, and makes the protagonist a bit of a blank. Interesting things are happening to and around them, but they remain enigmatic at the center of it. There are relationships presented as fact, but without details that showcase the emotional underpinnings that have to be there. While the readerís imagination is fully engaged in theorizing the settingís details, itís quite a different thing to ask us to ALSO plumb the main characterís personality and emotional history. Most especially because of the personal stakes in the plot.

As the story drew to an end, the most overpowering impression I had was that I had just read an outline, rather than a fully fleshed out story. A really intriguing outline, with details Iíd love to hear more about, but needing a lot more meat on its bones.

Spice Girl: Scary/Ginger Spice
Vibe: Horror Outline
Polish: Smooth
Is this TADS? No.
Gimme the Wheel! If it were mine, I would focus on fleshing out the protagonistís character. Let the reader see more of their inner life, either through dialogue, actions or direct access to thoughts (a bit easier to do in IF). Most especially the two relationships that are at the heart of the story. The plot and background can get away with leveraging the readerís imagination. The protagonist and their emotional life is going to be more powerful delivered on the page.

Spice Girl Ratings: Scary(Horror), Sporty (Gamey), Baby (Light-Hearted), Ginger (non-CWM/political), Posh (Meaningful)
Polish scale: Gleaming, Smooth, Textured, Rough, Distressed
Gimme the Wheel: What I would do next, if it were my project.

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- EJ, May 17, 2023

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
End of the world and family drama combo Twine piece, May 16, 2023
by Vivienne Dunstan (Dundee, Scotland)

This is a short - but not too short - Twine piece of the end of the world and family relations. I expected it to be shorter than it was, when the author said theyíd had to cut it short due to Covid. But itís a good length. The big downside for me was the general lack of interactivity. Often there would be big chunks of text and then just one link to click, so not really a choice. Though it got a bit more branching in places, and during some NPC interactions.

If I was to make a suggestion to the author it would be to think of ways to increase the interactivity. Because as a reader I want a sense of agency. I liked exploring in the house, even if in practice it was just effectively ticking off a bunch of options.

I did like the use of flashbacks, as you go back into your past life and relive events, which shed light on the present. That was nicely handled, and added depth to the story.

But it needed more interaction. But a promising piece. I got one ending, but didnít reply, because Iíd have had to back to the start. I noted quite a few typos. But it was intriguing.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An undead hybrid tries to kill their mother, May 15, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game is heavily centered on world-building. It's a Twine game and it's focused on you, a person who is not quite alive and not quite dead, who has to stop your mom from destroying the world.

The main attractions here are the characters and world-building. This definitely seems like a setting and a group of people the author has spent a great deal of time thinking about, from the murder-happy girlfriend to the html-breaking Ataxia monsters to the mother figure herself. All of them seem well developed and polished.

I think what's in this game is solid (nice use of text manipulation, too), but I'd love more chance to explore the world and see more of these concepts in play. I guess I'd either prefer a tighter focus with the current level of interactivity or the bigger story with the wider exploration.

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- Rovarsson (Belgium), May 11, 2023

- Jaded Pangolin, April 17, 2023

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