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My Brother; The Parasite

by qrowscant

Familial Horror
2023

(based on 13 ratings)
6 reviews

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


Game Details


Awards

25th Place - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)

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Member Reviews

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4 star:
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3 star:
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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Memorable, gripping and full of anguish, October 7, 2023
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2023, Twine, horror, choice-based

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.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
The length taken to get closure..., November 22, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: ifcomp

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…

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A dark revenant, December 8, 2023
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2023

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review I posted to the IntFiction forums during 2023's IFComp).

I think most people who’ve lost someone close to them have played some version of the bargaining game: imagining what you’d be willing to give up to get one more day, one more conversation, one more hug, with your loved one. It’s a ghoulish pastime, beyond being quite futile – perhaps for the best, there’s no interlocutor out there ready to take up the opposite side of the bet – but it’s nonetheless a positive fantasy; knowing that it’s impossible to obtain something so devoutly to be wished, or at least not for free, our lex-talionis-addled brains heap up sacrifices to make the vision plausible.

Careful what you wish for: in the grim world of My Brother; the Parasite (dig that semicolon), they’ve discovered a microorganism that delivers the unthinkable: once it colonizes a person’s brain, it will spring into action after they die, sending electricity into the brain and reanimating a corpse for four or five days. The person’s still dead, but their corpse lingers on, a talking thing that’s kept around out a vain hope that it can offer closure.

That hope is especially vain for Inez, the protagonist of the game. Her brother has died – choked on his own vomit after one bender too many – but as he luckily was afflicted by the parasite, she’s offered the chance for a series of one-on-one interviews to unpack the many, many layers of trauma he’s inflicted on her over the years. There are some details given, and others withheld, but it’s dark, dark stuff (Spoiler - click to show)(while it doesn’t spell things out, I read the game to imply that he sexually assaulted her at least once), and Inez can’t help but pick her scabs, verbally jousting with the body that used to be her brother in search of something she knows he can’t give.

The writing here is queasy and authentically muddled, and often describes abuse that was inflicted so frequently that it seems to have become almost commonplace:

"You knocked the wind out of me. I collapsed onto the floor, gasping, in tears, trying my hardest to force air back into my lungs. You brought me half a mango as an apology and begged me not to tell Mom."

"My mind, though… There are a hundred, million reminders that set it aflame. There are sounds that make me jump. Phrases that make me sick. Parts I can no longer touch."

The visual presentation matches this dour tone. The graphics – a mixture of portraits and heavily-modified photographs, with some limited, disorienting animation – occupy a range from moody to actively unsettling. There are occasional choices that prioritize vibe over readability, like the use of dark-gray text over a black background, and a few instances of timed text, but I think these are legitimate decisions that work to make the player uncomfortable, giving them the smallest taste of what it’s like to live as Inez does.

The game’s perspective in fact is locked very close into her subjectivity; this is a hothouse-flower of a game, focused overwhelmingly and obsessively on the trauma her brother has inflicted on her. If anything, I found that when the game tries to broaden out from this theme, it hits its few false notes: there’s a repeated suggestion that part of the ill will between the siblings came from competing for their mother’s love, and Inez several times repeats that she loves him and will mourn him. But these claims ring hollow in light of the intensity of the brother’s transgressive hatefulness and Inez’s complementary rage; I just didn’t buy these conventional, psychologized elements, and frankly the game doesn’t need them.

I’m hopefully communicating that this is a deeply unpleasant, but also deeply compelling, work to experience. Inez’s experiences are intense, but suggested with enough subtlety that the player can’t push them safely into the realm of melodrama or schlock horror. For all that it’s a very internal work, the author sets up the plot with care; it progresses from one distinct scene to the next with a clear logic of escalation connecting them. Despite the lack of anything resembling a branching choice, there’s some skillfully-deployed interactivity that means clicking through the various bits of text remains engaging throughout. And the conceit of the parasite is brilliant, because instead of a duel between two people, it’s simply a matter of a single person and a thing, meaning Inez is always in the spotlight and on the hook for the decisions she makes, while her brother is a dead but still-animate sparring partner whose incapacity for moral action is no longer blameworthy.

My Brother; the Parasite didn’t resonate very strongly with my personal experiences; my sibling relationship was complicated as all are, but nothing at all like this. And the emotions it evokes most frequently are ones that are generally alien to my personality. If there were too many games like it in the Comp, I think I’d have a hard time playing my way through it – I certainly needed a break after finishing this one. But it’s a haunting and well-crafted work, and for those who enjoy engaging with darker situations and feelings, it’ll be something very special. For my part, I’m glad to have played it, and glad too to be putting it aside.

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My Brother; The Parasite on IFDB

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