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1 people found the following review helpful:
Good characters, slow pacing, December 12, 2020
This one was not what I expected. Based on the overenthusiastic title punctuation, the bright, pop-art cover, and the listed genre, I went into TMMEWaD ready for over-the-top zaniness. That’s not at all what’s on offer here, though – the game is actually very grounded, basically a relationship-driven slice of life story both in terms of its main concerns and its pacing. Even leaving aside my mismatched expectations, I’m not convinced it fully works, but I found it very pleasant to play through, and really liked the way it delved into some concerns rather far afield from the typical meat-and-potatoes of interactive fiction.
So we’re dealing here with two protagonists (or maybe a protagonist and her antagonist)? You alternate between playing Lightbearer, a duly-licensed heroine protecting Garden City, and Promethium, her mad-scientist archnemesis. Things start out with an effective in medias res superhero operation, as Lightbearer flies to the rescue of a kidnapped ballet troupe. And at the end of the grabby, kinetic introductory fight, she manages to beat Promethium and get her in handcuffs.
So far so normal, except that a few curveballs get thrown (these are signposted pretty clearly in the blurb, so I’m not marking them as spoilers): Promethium has an anxiety attack at the prospect of being subjected to the death penalty, and then Lightbearer releases her on condition that Promethium throws all her fights moving forward. The meat of the game consists of the two characters meeting up to plan out how they’ll pretend to clash, while choreographing the results so no one get hurts; meanwhile, you have the option to have them slowly open up to each other (in choices clearly marked with a TRUST TIME graphic sting).
These deviations from genre expectations work to arouse interest, but I think they also feel underexplained in a way that took me out of the story. In general, the worldbuilding is vague, in favor of emphasizing the characters. That’s a fine choice, but some of the questions the game raises but doesn’t clearly resolve – do villains routinely get executed? How exactly does Lightbearer’s superhero job work? – are pretty integral to making sense of the characters’ motivations and decision-making. Some small spoilers: (Spoiler - click to show)Promethium’s fear of death seems like it’s tied to an anxiety disorder, but not knowing that makes the introduction of that note jarring, and I wondered whether this was going to be more of a dystopian take on supers. Similarly, Promethium’s accusation that the Hero Agency is all about money goes unanswered, and it’s unclear how realistic Lightbearer is when she worries that if she succeeds in beating her nemesis, her employers will heartlessly transfer her away without giving her two months to let her daughter graduate from high school! Most problematically, Promethium’s big speech about how villains are people trying to change the world and make it a better place completely fails to connect her ostensible social-justice goals to her actual actions of poisoning ballet dancers. As a result of the occasionally sketchy worldbuilding, there were times when the characters’ thought processes or decision-making didn’t really come together.
The pacing also slows down quite a lot in this main section of the game. The structure never really changes – you get brief interludes of the two protagonists living their lives, their biweekly coffee-shop meetings, and then their planned-out fights, a sequence that’s repeated five or six times. There’s not much of a sense of escalation, or any real narrative avenues besides the central question of whether or not they’re growing to trust each other (I opted for all the trust options – I was rooting for the two of them, they seemed nice! – so maybe this is different if you intentionally seed more dissent). And the prose can get a little stodgy at times, with repeated exposition (Lightbearer says some version of “so, you’re graduating from high school in two months!” to her daughter like three or four times) and a lack of real, lived-in detail to fully flesh out the characters’ lives (as a minor example, at one point the protagonists talk about TV shows they like – this could have been an opportunity to flesh out what art resonates with each character and how that relates to their personalities, but they basically just say “I like Adventure Time”/”I think the Big Bang Theory is good”).
On the flip side, some of the conversations between Promethium and Lightbearer do go to interesting places. Promethium is dealing with some mental-health trauma, (Spoiler - click to show)partially stemming from a cleverly-realized side-effect of how her powers first manifested. Lightbearer, even more atypically, is a somewhat older character, dealing with incipient empty-nest syndrome (Spoiler - click to show)and the onset of menopause. It’s nice to see topics like this drawn out, and I was invested in seeing how the two of them, both very alone in their own ways, could become friends. As a result, all the superhero business often felt like a low-stakes distraction, and as I played I was eager to get back to their civilian-world meetings, because that’s where the heart of the thing really lies. So what’s good here is good, and while the full impact is held back by some pacing issues and fuzzy worldbuilding that compromises the generally-strong character work, and I’m still glad I got a chance to play it.
2 people found the following review helpful:
A Great Game, December 1, 2020
I'm not big on superhero stuff. And yet, I quite liked this game. The graphics were cool and I was fond of the characters. I wasn't expecting the multiple perspectives, but I actually rather liked how that was done. I'm typically not keen on stories with multiple perspectives. I think that's probably because it's trickier to develop multiple characters in the way you do with a protagonist. Furthermore, the story was interesting, kept me wondering and engaged.
In conclusion, this is a great game. If I was more into superhero stuff, there's a good chance I'd have gone with 5 stars. Definitely would recommend it.
3 people found the following review helpful:
Enemies-to-best-friends?, October 24, 2020
The premise of "enemies-to-lovers" is a common one in fanfiction, and that's what this story reminded me of. Except the main characters here don't explicitly become lovers, but rather best friends, or something like that.
TMMEWaD is the story of a superhero, Lightbringer, and a supervillain, Promethium, who have been long-time enemies in a city. But then... Lightbringer invites Promethium to a coffee shop to plan out their future battles. The latter accepts, wanting to escape jail and a likely death sentence.
The story alternates between the perspectives of Lightbringer and Promethium, and gives the player choices for both characters. All of the meaningful choices are presented as trust exercises: does the hero trust the villain, and vice versa? Picking trusting choices gets the “good” ending, while picking distrustful choices gets the “bad” ending (I only got the good ending and haven’t seen the bad ending). Sometimes there are other choices, but I think those are mostly cosmetic choices.
Overall, I thought the writing was good, especially the ways the characters would interact, but I would have liked a bit more characterization. It was not really clear to me why Promethium was a villain, except some vague description of fighting against the injustices of the world (which injustices? why would she care? how did she come to see the world like that?). Or why Lightbringer became a hero. But maybe none of that really matters? Also the story felt a bit slow to me at times.
Sometimes, the text was rather difficult to read because the background color and text color were too similar. There was one typo at the very end I think, where Lightbringer introduces Promethium to her daughter as Diana.
(Interestingly this one of at least two stories in this ifcomp with a female enemies-to-lovers storyline; the other is about a vampire).
2 people found the following review helpful:
A well-written longish Twine game about two enemies collaborating, October 8, 2020
So the author of this game (I had wondered if there were several, but there seems to be one main author with some help from Norbez) has been advertising this on Twine for quite some Twine, and I was interested to see how it would come it.
Story-wise, this is one of the stronger games in the competition. There’s a delightful tension between the two protagonists (you get to play both): a hero named Lightbearer, middle-aged and with the ability to control energy; and Promethium, a villain who creates synthetic humanoids.
The story takes you through a strange situation where the two of you must work together for each other’s good. I found the writing and storytelling to be witty. Lightbearer is fairly generic as a hero, but interesting as a person. I wondered if Promethium was coded as autistic (reacts poorly to sensory stimuli, has a specific soothing sensory experience, and, as we later discover, ).
The graphics and styling are very nice.
Interactivity-wise, I went back and forth on my feelings. It’s the same kind of model as the successful game Dull Grey from last year, where you make the same choice over and over again leading to a final ending (although I don’t think there are any Dull Grey-style secret endings here). I think that works fairly good here, but I think there’s not very much reason in-game to pursue the ‘be mean’ options.
That’s something I’ve thought a lot about while playing Choice of Games titles this summer. Several of them offer ‘mean paths’, but it’s best when they’re strongly motivated. For instance, in Champion of the Gods, it’s okay if you are wild and kill everyone on site because the Gods commend you and the people around you are glad to be protected. It’s also okay to spare the enemies because the Gods are cruel.
But in this game it just seems set up to always pick the same choice. I’ll go back and try another run. Overall though, the story was great, and I’d definitely be eager to see a new Storysinger Presents game in the future.
+Polish: Very smooth and nice
+Descriptiveness: Loved the writing in this one.
-Interactivity: I felt like my choices could have used a little more oomph.
+Emotional Impact: Yeah, I was definitely curious about the big mysteries.
+Would I play again? I could see me coming back to this in the future.
3 people found the following review helpful:
Heartwarming story about two adversaries learning to view each other differently, October 6, 2020
This one is right on the edge of being a 4-star game for me. So very close, but I just couldn't quite pull the trigger on it. Consider it the best of all the 3-star games that I've played as of IFComp 2020.
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This story seems very linear, though I've only played it once, with choice really only allowed at the most pivotal moments. It would work really well as a visual novel as it seems to fit that genre: comic book-style hero vs. villain. You get to see the story play out from both of their perspectives as they stop fighting and start trusting each other.
The writing is above average, but could use a little more polish. The presentation of the text I think also needs so work, as several times during rapid-fire dialogue I would get confused as to which character was speaking. Perhaps more indentation and a few "said" tags at times would alleviate this. Also, despite not having much choice, there was a lot of clicking involved. You don't get much of the story before you have to click some of the text to flip the page. I started to replay it right after finishing it, but all the clicking to just get to the first choice made me decide to save a second playthrough for another time. Perhaps the text is kept short so as to not obscure the backgrounds (what appear to be stock images used to represent the various locations). While I did appreciate the backgrounds to help aid in establishing the setting, perhaps after the opening line of a scene the text could then be displayed in larger chunks. I also think it would be wonderful if the studio was able to get custom art of each of the settings, though I realize that is expensive.
I think the story was just a bit too long, it probably could have had one less (Spoiler - click to show)coffee shop -> house -> lair -> battle cycle and still had the same impact. Also, the ending I got, one of the "good" ones, I think just barely didn't stick the landing. It was satisfying, but I had the feeling it could have been a bit more.
Sorry if this review seems overly negative, I don't mean it to be. Most of my criticisms are small and perhaps picking at nits too much. I really liked this story and the characters especially. I felt the mood change between them (especially from Promethium's perspective) and my heart warmed with theirs. I also felt the tension at the moments it felt like it all might unravel. The lesson to be learned from the characters is also an important one for this day and age.
Well done! I look forward to playing this again one day and to the next project to come out of the Storysinger studio.