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About the Story
Strayed is a dark, atmospheric tale in the tradition of Stephen King or Dean R. Koontz. You're only fifteen miles from home; but those fifteen miles are a lonely road through woods drenched in mystery, that many locals dare not enter. Rain batters your windscreen; your radio reports an aggressive beast, lashing out against passers-by; and there is something — something — waiting on the road ahead. Your decisions will matter in this game; perhaps more than you think.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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Well, I guess marketing works. After seeing months of promotional materials for Strayed, I decided to try it while it was on sale out of curiosity.
This is a longish hyperlink game. Although the ads seemed to show graphics for the pc version, the android version was, as advertised, pure text.
The game has a strong central horror narrative, with several detours allowed on the way, with many of the choices being flavor choices.
Just before this game, I had played Abyss, which is a similar game (twinelike without stats, on the play store). This game has better writing, less typos, and is more mature than Abyss, but is of comparable size. Those differences, though, make the difference for me between a free game (Abyss) and a commercial game (Strayed).
On replaying Strayed, I found quite a few new areas I had not previously explored, and the grand finale was different in a way that ties into the nature of the horror.
However, I did not find the horror gripping. It reminded me the most of some creepy pasta stories, where some reactions of the participants don't reflect reality (an example not from the game: "You see an airplane that morphs into a fluttering leaf. You shrug it off.")
I guess I was hoping more for emotional investment (like Hana Feels) or persistent consequences of actions (like Choice of Games), both of which the authors had written for. But $1-$2 is an appropriate amount for this game.
Edit: I added another star when I found out the underlined text showed you what your choices had affected; I really like this in a game.
This work reminds me of the creepy stories they used to tell us at summer camp. Lonely road, strange creatures, constant sense of dread and weirdness, with enough ambiguity at the end to leave you worrying over it. Except in this case you can go back and try again, as there is a good deal of replayability owing to the different choices you can make. In my three playthroughs this didn't lead to drastically different outcomes, but mostly gave variety to the characters I met and various details along the way--it scratched the exploration itch pretty well.
The writing was fairly engaging and moved the story along at a brisk pace, while the overall atmosphere left me feeling appropriately uneasy. If you've never driven a creepy, tree-shrouded road at night, here's your chance. There's always the promise of a lighted, civilized area thank God not too far away, but whether you get there or not is an open question. The ending was suitably mysterious, but left me a bit puzzled about what was happening, and there were some elements I felt were cliché. The Android version I played was all text, though the promotional video might lead you to think otherwise.
The story conveys the effects of your choices by underlining pieces of the text that follow. This was not mentioned in the description and was puzzling and distracting at first--I kept wanting to click on the underlined parts. Then, when I learned what was going on I wanted to go back and play again to see the effect of my choices, so opinions may vary on this.
Three stars for average, but in my book average is fine, so not a knock against it.
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