by Brendan Patrick Hennessy profile

Part of the Bell Park series

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Number of Reviews: 12
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Full of lovely dialogue and choices, September 15, 2019
by Greg Buchanan (United Kingdom)

“You dream you are the sheriff of a wild west town populated entirely by bird people."

Birdland has some of the best dialogue I've seen in an IF game -- not only for its believability, but how it helps characterise our protagonist through the range of choices on offer at each juncture. We get a sense of the way our mind works by seeing the kinds of things Bridget might do or say or lean towards, and even when we don't select options, the fact we saw them does a lot of subtle (but heavy) lifting.

The dream mechanic was excellent. We live vicariously in dreams and do things we wouldn't do in real life partly because we can and there is no consequence, just like we might do in a video game. The two levels of reality in this IF -- dream and real life -- and the stat-based overlap from what dream behaviour does to our state of mind, is really effective at delivering consequence for our vicarious, "wouldn't this be funny or fun" dream decisions. The skill of the author is in making us still treat those fun segments -as- dreams rather than somehow min-maxing our stats. And later in the game, as the dream logic seems to spill into everyday life, this plot strand is brought to its inevitably conclusion.

So much lovely stuff here, both comedic and coming-of-age. When we step-by-step get to make choices to write a bad sentence in French, or when I claim to my instructor that my poorly performed sport action is a "Lazy Susan", and they respond: "A) There's no stroke called a "Lazy Susan", B) if there was it I would expect it to involve some kind of circular motion."

So good. My only vague critique - and this is reaching - is that the pace of the IF led me to expect reasonably short sections broken up with choices, even if those choices just helped me personalise my character. So on the few occasions where there was a large amount of text on screen, especially those with huge paragraphs, it slowed down the flow quite a bit for me. Not a deal-breaker by any means as the quality of writing meant I was happy to read, but I think they could have benefited from being cut up a little considering their breach with usual pacing (apart from an excellent 'feathers' moment I won't spoil, which was completely amazing).