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About the Story
It is a kind of symbiosis.
People die, and sometimes they come back. Your brother is one of those. Even as his body rots and his mind unravels, he still has control over you-- just like when you were kids.
A story about a corpse, a complicated sibling relationship, and the things we forget.
Content warning: flashing, eyestrain, body horror, descriptions of physical abuse, implied assault, implied drug/alcohol abuse
25th Place - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)
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Number of Reviews: 4
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My Brother; the Parasite is a choice-based IF by growscant, published during the IFComp 2023. It's about a complex yet painful sibling relationship between a woman and her deceased brother (Spoiler - click to show)who still lingers in a pseudo-alive state thanks to a strange parasitic disease.
The game has been made on Twine, and it makes extensive use of self-made graphics. The visual style is quite polished, yet it has a certain rawness to it that suits the disturbing tone of the story. As one minor technical fault, it seems Twine can't change images on the screen completely seamlessly, resulting in small "loading times" when scenes and images change. Or could it just be my browser?
This is a very narrative-focused IF without much real interactivity besides clicking links to progress in the story. Timed text adds its own bumpy and unpredictable feeling to the game flow, and hyperlinks are also used in some different ways here and there for variety. Other than that, there isn't much else to talk about the gameplay.
The story itself is highly emotionally charged. The protagonist has to face the reality of her abusive brother's death and make sense of the mixed emotions that are brewing inside her. (Spoiler - click to show)The parasite adds an interesting twist to the storytelling. Although tonally the story is very much about pent-up emotion, like a prolonged, regretful, angry rumination about things the protagonist wishes she could've resolved with her brother while he was alive, in a sense the brother is still around and actually becomes a physical threat in some scenes. In this regard, you could read the story as being a kind of a cross between family drama and zombie fiction, or consider the parasite as a strictly symbolic storytelling device - it seems to work either way.
The writing is quite good in my opinion. The prose is usually compact and restrained, but it has a few more freely flowing and poetic moments when the situation calls for it. The forlorn small town setting is brought to life with some good worldbuilding detail too. It definitely feels like more than just character drama happening inside a vacuum.
Overall, I thought My Brother; The Parasite was memorable, gripping and full of anguish. Although I personally prefer IF with a bit more interactivity, as a story it was worth experiencing.
My Brother; The Parasite is a raw horror highly stylised kinetic piece, which you are a woman looking for closure after her brother’s passing. Given a second change to talk to him thanks to a parasitic procedure, this speculative piece of fiction explore family trauma and processing grief.
This game is intense. It is incredibly emotionally charged, not just from the gruesomeness of the brother’s death or the description of its corpse coming back to life, but through the hints of unprocessed past trauma (between both siblings, and their mother). The story told through minimal descriptions and bare dialogue punches your gut at every turn. What is supposed to be a tool to process grief and find closure becomes another knife plunged and twisted into the wound. It hurts, but you can’t take it out or you’d die. It hurts, but if you look away and don’t confront it, you’d never find peace.
You have a feel that something is not quite right from the beginning, but it is hard to say whether it is due to the character feeling grief or something bleaker is afoot. The visuals are graining, with most of their colours washed out; some are slightly animated, with tears falling down their face, or the slight breathing movement of the corpse, or the uninterruptable thoughts glitching in the background, or the slight changes in portraits between passages… every element on the page has a purpose - which is to keep your eye on the screen until it’s all over.
Something that struck me with this entry was how the tension built from the start. It kept building and building as you go through the game, leaving you little reprieve or a moment to catch your breath. If the game could send scent, it would try to overwhelm all your senses. And the tension starts small, with a little bit of uh, something feels weird… but becomes uncomfortable, with confronting the corpse of your loved one, confronting harsh truths… and quite bleak, with the realisations of your past, of your present, of your future… and honestly quite creepy if you think too long about about it… and then oh no, oh god, everything is going wrong, are we going to die?!?!?
Though I understand the stylistic choices made in this game, and was warned with the eyestrain in the blurb, I found the font size and low-contrast colours text (especially the greys) quite hard to read. It required a little bit of changing the size on my browser and zooming in to be able to read comfortably.
would be lovely if it was a tad more accessible.
There were also some instances were the timed text and images made me wonder whether I forgot to click on something or whether my internet wasn’t working right. I didn’t mind it when the game would use a “loading” passage to change the background, but was quite confusing with the drawer bit (I also couldn’t see the 4th object in that passage, clicked at random on the page…). Maybe a bit of a shorter length for the timed text…
This is a Twine game with lovingly crafted visuals, using backgrounds, animations, and various techniques like mouseover links, cycling links, etc.
I did something with it that is likely bad for the experience, like people who use online recipes and complain ‘I substituted ground dates for the chocolate and it tasted terrible!’. In my case, I downloaded the file and changed all of the timed text links to have a 0 second timer. Some of the original timers were 6 seconds and it was just agonizing to play.
So my experience may not be the one intended.
The story imagines a world where a common parasite exists that can puppet a body’s nervous and muscular systems after death, allowing corpses to speak and to remember.
Your brother has been found, and you have been called in to talk to him.
The main content of the game is divided between the top layer (you talking directly with the player) and the bottom layer (your memories and feelings about your brother). This is not a happy relationship whatsoever. It implies that your brother was extremely abusive; at first I thought it was sexual abuse, and may be, but physical abuse seems much more likely.
The game is effective in its communication of both the bitter anger after abuse but also the self-doubt. Where the writing is most effective in my opinion is that it contrasts scenes of deep hatred and unhappiness with scenes of love and affection. The variation in emotion and tone gives a much stronger gravitas to the scenes of pain and violence.
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