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Necromancer, March 14, 2022
General Recommendation: I recommend this game. It’s a fun read with a sense of epicness and scale that many longer works fail to capture.
Preview: Will you successfully embrace your destiny as a true necromancer?
This story’s greatest strength is the sense of scope it builds up. Though actually one of EndMaster’s shorter works, this story deals with events on a larger scale than most other storygames, following the narrator’s journey to ultimately end the world. It’s an ambitious idea to tell a story about, and EndMaster handles it very skillfully.
The pace of this story is lightning fast in the best ways. No time is wasted on irrelevant details, instead the story jumps straight to the action. In the early parts of the story, it focuses more on how isolated incidents and conflicts are dealt with. This scene-by-scene approach gets across well how time is passing, and by the time the story shifts focus to a larger more epic scale, the reader really feels like a lot of time has passed. Despite the fast pace of the story, it never feels rushed, and the narrator’s increases in power never feel sudden.
The Necromancer’s family is used quite well in this story. Though the Necromancer faces large-scale sweeping challenges like the attack on Nuro and the confrontation with the vampires, ultimately the final challanges he must face are intimate and personal. In a longer story, some scenes with his family at the beginning could serve to establish their relationship, but given the length of the game, the informational links work fine.
There’s always been something amusing to me about the necromancer’s initial state as a college rich kid slacker. He starts off being very human, with very human traits and failings and desires. This shows strongly in his initial interaction with Big Red (as well as his plan to murder him), where he’s clearly in deep over his head, and on the early stages of the necromancer path where he gets curious and excited about new abilities and prospects for expansion. The two major pathes in this game do a good job showing the possibles ways for the protagonist to develop from this initial state. The necromancy path shows him shedding his mortal desires and wishes and becoming a pure detached personification of death. However, the second path makes clear that this was not inevitable: On the hellbound path, he instead embraces the material traits of pettiness and cruelty, sacrificing his natural gift in an attempt to gain power. Despite growing in power to levels almost approaching those of the necromancer path, he never achieves the confidence and competence of a true necromancer, always grasping fearfully for more power and needing to lie and cheat to get it.
Tone is used very effectively in this story. The tone at the beginning of this story is very conversational and casual. This does a good job setting up the world as it currently exists, and makes the tone shift later in the work more impactful. On the hell path, the narrator’s tone becomes gradiose and arrogant, using sweeping language. The Necromancer path also uses expansive phrasings, but this time it comes across as genuine, as the narrator can actually back up his claims.
There’s a sense of epicness and fate to this game. On the hell path, this is true from the perspective of Big Red’s manipulation of the narrator. There’s a sense of inevitability to his eventual domination. It’s most true on the main path, however, which tracks the narrator’s journey to becoming a god of death. Serena’s intervention, as well as the narrator’s steadily rythmic journey towards power makes the path feel fated and destined. This is a particularly interesting theme, given that the nature of the choose-your-own-adventure format prevents anthing from ever truly being fated. It’s done well, however.
The focus on fate and the “purity” of the narrator’s death powers is what makes this game more than just a hack-n-slash kill-em-all adventure. Yes, you do conquer the world, but it’s about more than just conquoring the world: It’s about the Necromancer’s realization of his destiny and place in the multiverse.
-The pictures with captions add a lot of atmosphere to this game. I’d be curious to know how they were created and where they’re from.
-I’m not a big fan of info links in storygames, and this story has a bunch right at the beginning. The information itself is well-organized and well-written. The need to include bcakground information is understandable in this game, as this game will jump straight into the action and doesn’t have time to introduce worldbuilding in the traditional way, as longer games like Rogues can.
-Big Red correctly identifies that the narrator is “confused and curious” at the beginning of the story. He has the potential to be a great necromancer, but he’s not one yet.
-The protagonist’s isolation on the hellbound path verses joining the Dark Order is a good contrast between the two branches.
-In the fight with Quayle: “You see a small gray building that doesn’t seem to be suggering any effects”. I know this is certainly a coincidence, but I can’t help thinking of the gray building from Tales from the Basement and SSS.
-Aftermath is a good name.
-Lol, left hand demon.
-The politics on the hellbound arc are fun.
-The toll that the narrator’s allegiance with hell takes on his body is a good way to show his corruption.
-The scene with the narrator’s father on the hell path does a good job of highlighting the narrator’s arrogance and blindness, while also showing his insecurity.
-The narrator’s treatment of his sister and father on each path is another way to show the difference in his personality. On the hell path he brutally tortures both of them for pretty much no reason. On the necromancer path he comes to an understanding with his father before his death, and faces his sister with respect. This shows the larger differences between the two pathes as well, on the hell path the Necromancer is petty, vindictive, and insecure, on the necromancer path he’s far from being a good guy, but his pursuit of power is out of something more pure and dispassionate, allowing him to reach an understanding with his family, even if their goals are unequivocally opposed.
-The epilogue to the hell path is quite well written.
-I also like the contrast that on the hell path the narrator is actively seeking godhood, but only on the necromancy path can he achieve it.
-Big Red is an excellent character, and used to full effect in this story. Of all the demons, he plays the role of a “true” archetypical demon the most; manipulating from the shadows and striking after being very patient. The reveal at the end that he has been manipulating events the whole time manages both to surprise the reader but also feel preordained; how else could the Necromancer’s associated with hell have ended?
-It’s interesting that the ending where you side with the vampires in the hell path winds up being more positive for yourself and the world than the ending. I like that the game shows the opportunities the Necromancer has to turn away from his conquest.
-I like the way Mr. Demar and Big Red have inverse character arcs. Mr. Demar starts out as a pinacle of knowledge in the dubious side of the academic, but later turns out to be unable to handle the situations he’s created. Big Red gets offed in the first chapter, only to later be revealed to have masterminded the apocalypse in his spare time.
-I like that the Necromancer immobilizes the zombies using a nature spell, something he’s horrible at.
-Another parallel: In the hell arc, the Necromancer starts off alone and winds up surrounded by others. In the necromancy arc, he starts off with lots of allies and ends up alone.
-The jokes about all the necromancers previous failed attempts at magic are amusing.
-In general, I like the way EndMaster handles vampires in his stories. Like elves, they’re one of the fantasy creatues that it’s very easy to write in a cliche or irritating manner. However, the vampires in these stories are written in a self-aware fasion, emphasizing the inhuman aspects rather than the human ones.
-I like the inclusion of time magic. As this is a story about necromancy, it never takes center stage, but the effects we are allowed to see are intriguing and show the reader where necromancy fits in in the world of magic. It also makes a good and unusual challenge for the Necromancer to face.
-I like the reltionship between Catalina and the Necromancer better after they’re together. It’s not really clear why she changes her mind about him during the coutship stage, but once they are together, they make good partners.
-The Ghoul King is done well. He makes an unusual and fun ally in the early parts of the game. His later betrayal makes sense given what we know of his character, and does a good job showing the changing circumstances for the Necromancer.
-It’s interesting that the Necromancer is in denial about his desire to kill everything for a long time.
-The scene where the Necromancer becomes the Great Lich Lord is well done.
-The Necromancer’s increasing exhaustion and lack of emotion throughout the necromancy path is a good way to track his gradually losing his humanity and becoming a personification of death.
-The final chapter of the necromancy arc is largely about whether or not the Necromancer is fully committed to his path of death. I like that many of the endings where he turns away are allowed to be positive, as this is realisitc.
-It seems odd that your mom says “as was predicted” regardless of what you choose.
-The final scene where the Necromancer leaves the world is quite well-written, capturing the sense of epicness and scale that the story has been building to up to this point.
Mastery of Language
There are a number of sentence structuring issues, particularly in the beginning of the story. At times, these contribute to the conversational tone.
One thing that’s notable about this story is that the writing and style improves noticably as the story goes on, to the extent that it might well be deliberate. It certainly does a good job of illustrating the changes in the scope of the story, the changes to the narrator, and the changes to the world, as the seriousness of the events is mirrored by the language and phrasing used.
Not great, the story only has two major pathways. This isn’t a problem, as the story states up front it’s more “story” than “game”.
Player Options/fair choice
Fair choice is pretty good, the consequences of actions are well-foreshadowed. The player options aren’t great, as the story only has two official endings and a single choice at the beginning determines which one the player is on track for. This isn’t a problem, as the story states up front it’s fairly linear.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I played through the necromancy path when I first played a few years ago.
CONCLUSION: An well-written and entertaining game that brings an impressive sense of scope to the reader’s journey.