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Modernist poetry with a bit of cinematography, June 20, 2013
by Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.)Related reviews: alan deniro
Play it if: you're interested in seeing some of Twine's fancier tricks, or indulging in mutable free verse for a few minutes.
Don't play it if: you hate it when you get the feeling that what you're reading would work better if it wasn't "interactive fiction".
Corvidia is a short work, less interesting for its actual content than for what it suggests about IF in general.
What is it? Well, in essence, it's a narrative existing somewhere between poetry and dramatic monologue. You click certain allowed keywords, and this determines the next lines to be spoken.
Does it work as poetry? Not...entirely, I would say. It doesn't strike me as doing anything terribly original or striking with the English language. Simple present tense has been kind of beaten to death in English poetry for me anyway. The imagery is too opaque for my taste as well. William Carlos Williams, it ain't.
Does it work as an interactive construct? Well, no. Sure, you can pick words out of the poetry, but there's no reason to pick any particular word except on a whim. You know how you can tell a poorly-written CYOA book when you can win by just letting your eyes glaze over and picking what seem like the least-stupid options? Less "guess-the-verb" and more of a "winging-it syndrome". It seems to be a problem with a lot of Twine works, and it's in full force here. The problem with this kind of writing is that it corrodes the player's attention, their willingness to engage with the material, their desire to savor the text. There's no inter in the activity. There's no give to balance the take.
The visual presentation is - well, it's like 3-D technology in film. Sure, it adds novelty and a touch of pizzazz to what you're seeing, but - do you really need it? I don't need funky glasses to tell me a scene is occurring in three dimensions: my brain already tells me that whenever I watch 2-D images of 3-D environments. (The magic of imagination.) In a similar vein, it's all very well that the words are glowing and fading in and out, but I did come here to read, after all. The words could be in bubblegum-pink Comic Sans and they'd have as much meaning to me. It's the same response I have to people who refuse to use e-readers because they "love holding paper books" or something similar: isn't the point that great writing leaps off the page?
It's a decent showcase of Twine's flashier visual capabilities, but other than that - I'm sorry, it's not my thing.