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About the Story
integration necessitates evisceration
6th place out of 902 entries, Mood - Ludum Dare 25
praise from Harvey Smith (who worked on System Shock)
For deconstructing power fantasy; lovingly reminding me of System Shock, one of my favorite games of all time; for expanding the narrowly defined boundaries of video game subject matter; for excellent writing and a cutting sense of humor(?).
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Number of Reviews: 5
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Related reviews: porpentine
Play it if: you want a nearly-pure transformation of text into a visceral, cinematic experience.
Don't play it if: you have a weak stomach for just about anything that could reasonably be expected to make a human being queasy.
The first two words in this game are "wet" and "sticky". And if you think the use of sentence fragments as impressionistic descriptors is passé, the rest of Cyberqueen probably won't be to your taste, because what it mainly does - what it does best - is transplant the experience of fragmenting consciousness into writing.
Cyberqueen is a war between intimacy and grotesquery, violation and transformation. The tone and content draw from the erotic and the clinically repellent, switch between them and occasionally combine them. In a certain way it reminds me of the Guillermo del Toro film Pan's Labyrinth, which had the audacity to sew together a wondrous, childlike fantasy and a grim, horrifically real war story. In both cases, the achievement is admirable, though exhausting.
The tale itself reads something like a fusion of System Shock and parts of Ray Bradbury's The City. Interestingly enough the antagonist, while malevolent, is not entirely unsympathetic, though she certainly stretches and probably breaks the boundaries of what constitutes acceptable sympathetic behavior. In certain readings she might be taken to be the protagonist, albeit not the player character.
The nature of this work's structure makes me wonder if it can even be described as interactive fiction, because while you are ostensibly presented with alternative options the game is ultimately an extremely linear experience. You are certainly made to suffer the protagonist's fears, pains and frustrations, but the "interactivity" is illusory. ("Sorry to ruin your power fantasy," gloats the antagonist as she seals your fate.) "Cinematic prose", perhaps.
The story plays with themes of identity, both in an internal sense and in a physical sense; it preys on the communal horror of deformity and dysmorphia. Which is good - it's touching on things of great social relevance. But it doesn't really discuss them, preferring to let them come to fruition in a more emotional than intellectual sense. Forsaking both the pen and the sword, Cyberqueen attacks the human comfort zone by wielding itself like a chainsaw. This would be a flaw under other circumstances, but I get the distinct impression that this was the author's intended direction for the story and as a result I must call it a success.
So why five stars? Firstly, because it deftly exploits the medium in such a way as to charge up the emotional responses we are asked to give to the events of the story; and secondly, because it is a complete and unabashed triumph in terms of what it tries to be: a fleshy, palpitating tale of agonizing transformation that demands your attention.
This story reads like a prologue to the original System Shock from the point of view of one of the doomed colonists aboard Citadel station. If you've played SS, you remember the absolute unreal amount of gore and viscera and fragments of bodies that litter the hallways, all examples of the experimentation that the mad AI Shodan wrought upon the crew as she created her army of cyborg warriors that were your enemies in the game. This gives you a first person perspective of what that was like. Very gory, very visceral, very adult and would almost qualify as good enough to be one of the original computer logs in that game.
A brilliant SF game, April 5, 2020
Porpentine quotes herself Harlan Ellison as a major influence, but it seems obvious that Alien and 2001 also play a role in her inspiration. She does more than mixing all these well-known stories in a whole game, she moves the cursor higher and higher, until it reaches its conceptual limit. The result is a perfect piece of techno-horror.
The game is now directly available on the author website.
See All 7 Member Reviews
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