We All Fall Together

by Camron Gonzalez

Fantasy; Surreal
2023

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- Cerfeuil (Happy 2024!), January 9, 2024

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Things to Do While Plummeting, December 22, 2023
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2023

Adapted from an IFCOMP23 Review

Over time I have developed a love/hate relationship with Texture as an IF platform. There are a few things it does uniquely well. I am super enamored of the drag and drop paradigm. It suggests connecting thoughts in an organic way that is appealing to me. Because the connecting words are highlighted only after selecting a command, it can create intriguing surprises about the connections the author is offering. The text bubbles that appear when you connect words can similarly be used to great effect, refining the nature of the connection you just made. For me, it adds up to a powerful and unique authoring opportunity.

As much as I love those things though, there are two things I hate. Actually one I hate and another I HATE HATE HATE OMIGOD WHO DO I BLAME AND HOW DO I BRING THEM TO A DIRE RECKONING HATE. The former is that making those connections allows inline (rather than appended) text changes. On dense pages it creates a ‘hunt the new text’ problem, where new text probably but not necessarily shows up where you just clicked. Because it is most buried in large blocks of text it also means often REREADING large blocks of text desperately searching for the New Thing.

That’s bad, but the factor that aggrieves me beyond all rational thought is the font-resize problem. Texture dynamically resizes font, based on text volume and window size. You’re not getting it? Every page potentially changes its font size during play as text is added, sometimes multiple times and WILDLY so. Then all over again with a new page. How are you not as mad as me now? My hands are trembling in fury and/or PTSD just typing about it. It is maybe the worst reading experience since Catholic Grade School where nuns whack you with rulers on mispronunciations.

So, this is a Texture piece. Like most, it will live and die by how it maximizes its platform’s strengths and minimizes its… challenges. Let me say that differently. A Texture piece that does NOTHING on either front is going to default to infuriating, without counterbalancing merits. That is an unfair burden to place on even the strongest narrative. Fall may not recognize that peril and is brought down (heh) by it.

Fall is a surreal, metaphorical story about connections and fear while navigating a life we have little control over. It is about perfectly sized for what it is, though maybe the narrative balance is a bit off. We spend what feels like 1/3 of the time getting to know our two mains vs 2/3 describing the weird environment they are in. That feels imbalanced, though I didn’t count words and maybe my impression is off. If it is, then I would say the time could be better used, as at the end I had only the vaguest sympathy for the pair. The details were a little too generic to enthrall me, which is a weird thing to say about a person in a spiked leather jacket. The message of the piece was well taken, but lacked emotional punch.

To leveraging Texture’s strengths, I consistently (and painfully) felt missed opportunities abounded. Most word connections were exactly what you thought they would be, and the connection-bubbles basically concatenated the two words rather than offering any surprising insight or nuance. That reduced the drag and drop to a nifty variation on Twine/Choicescript “click the options.” In some cases, connection choices remained on the page even when there were no further connections to be made.

And those Texture-Cons? Hoobidy, they were present in spades. Font Dancing was my persistent companion, made worse when Text Hunting revealed the connection I made was say an eye color and nothing more. I think maybe Texture is the Arc Welder of IF authoring tools. Insanely powerful in practiced hands, guaranteed to severely injure the enthusiastic novice. I’m going to inaugurate another review sub-series here, “Playing With Matches,” to tie the IFComp23 Texture reviews together!

Played: 10/6/23
Playtime: 20min, 2 playthroughs, different choices changing nothing
Artistic/Technical ratings: Mechanical, Notably buggy. Why not Intrusive? Honestly, because 1. it is short and 2. Its page length sometimes dodged resizing which elicited actual sighs of relief during gameplay.
Would Play After Comp?: No, experience feels complete

Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless

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Atmospheric setting but too little player control over what happens, December 18, 2023
by Vivienne Dunstan (Dundee, Scotland)

This Texture piece sees you fall through a long fall, encounter other characters, and reflect on your life.

It’s an atmospheric setting, but often I was frustrated with the lack of control re what I could do. For example at one point there’s another character who appears, but I wasn’t given the chance to interact with them at all, and could only think about stuff. I wish the story and interaction possibilities had been fleshed out more. There were so many other things it could have responded to.

Ultimately the story seems fixed in its destination, it’s just a matter of how you get there. Though as reading I was thinking more of it as a metaphor for life in general, which was an interesting thought. Thanks to the author for conjuring that for me.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A reckless disregard for gravity, December 4, 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’ve never had a dream of falling, or at least not that I can remember, and I’m kind of bummed that I’ve missed out. The feeling of flying through the air seems like it must be exhilarating to me, and without the real-life risk of splatting against the ground, wouldn’t that be an amazing sensation to experience? We All Fall Together takes a different view, however, imagining a Limbo of ever-plummeting bodies caught between a terrifying cyclone that claims those who dive too low and shadowy predators who snatch those who try to slow their fall and drift too far up. It’s a situation that can be read to have a number of different real-life analogues, but it’s not so one-note as to be too simple of an allegory, so it’s interesting enough to support the game’s ten-minute runtime – and while my streak of being annoyed by the Texture engine continues with this game, at least it has a better showing than most.

As in medias res openings go, “you’re falling endlessly” is a great one, so the game makes a solid first impression, and throws in enough incident to keep the story moving – after starting to get oriented towards the situation, you get a chance to engage with several other inhabitants of this strange netherworld, most notably a black-clad figure you call “the Rock Star.” They’re a great source of exposition, and the dialogue efficiently sets up the metaphysical stakes, establishing that there’s a risky but rewarding path that may allow you to escape your fate and return to your loved ones.

Granted, it’s not an especially sharp dilemma, but it’s reasonably engaging and the opportunity to give the Rock Star a pep talk is nice; similarly, while the writing occasionally overreaches and has some errors, for the most part it hits a solid balance between action, dialogue, and jokes. What works less well is the attempt to impose a backstory on you and your interlocutor. You each talk about partners who are devoid of names, genders, personalities, or histories, landing at precisely the least-effective position between specific enough to be affecting, and general enough to be archetypal. The ending still feels rewarding, though, and again, this is a very short game so the offending bits only amounted to a minute or so of reading.

As for the Texture-ness of it all, I thought the author did a good job of picking verbs that were clearly distinguished from each other, and signposting what actions would do. Oh, and I played this one on my phone, and good news, the tiny-text-on-buttons bug I’ve experienced in other Texture games went away! …bad news, I experienced a new bug where switching to my Notes app to paste in excepts or jot down thoughts caused the buttons to stop work. Texture, you take delight in vexing me and have no compassion for my poor nerves – but despite that, I’d still say this is among my favorite games using this engine.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Brief texture game about falling forever , November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a brief Texture game about falling in an infinite void. The setting gives me fond memories of the Magnus Archives, but the tone is very different; rather than using the infinite fall to provoke horror or terror, its used here as a sort of metaphor, although a vague one.

You have a companion in this falling, a mysterious person dressed as a rockstar whom you can learn more about.

There were a lot of real choices in the game, as most options disappeared after choosing one. I didn’t choose to replay because I found my one playthrough satisfying.

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- nilac, November 20, 2023

- joes, November 20, 2023

- Sophia de Augustine, November 16, 2023

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Take the plunge..., November 14, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: ifcomp

We All Fall Together is a short surrealist game about "taking the plunge" and facing things head on. Made in Texture, you click-n-drag actions towards specific block of words to affect the displayed text or move the story along. There is only one ending.

With its fantastical setting (you falling towards the eye of a storm, falling with others), WAFT proposes a very simple and silly game. Yet, intertwined the silliness, the game discusses a very human trait: the fear of just... doing things. Of diving head forwards into things. Of avoiding situations for fear it will end badly...

It was a fine small entry. Though I wished it had dived maybe a bit more into your fears.

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- The Hungry Reader (California), November 12, 2023

- Edo, November 6, 2023

- Sobol (Russia), October 16, 2023

- jaclynhyde, October 12, 2023

- Zape, October 12, 2023

- Jade68, October 11, 2023

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting premise falls flat, October 7, 2023
by ccpost (Greensboro, North Carolina)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2023

This game has a really interesting premise -- you wake up and you're falling toward a void in the middle of cyclone, and you make sense of your predicament by grabbing onto a Fellow Faller and chatting about life, the afterlife (?), and your regrets. The game begins with the promise of a surreal short interactive story, but the interesting bits flatten out pretty quickly.

There are two aspects that could have been addressed that would have really livened up this game to make it the weird and engaging experience that I was hoping for. First, there's very little in the way of interesting characterization of either the protagonist or the Fellow Faller. This FF is described as Rock Star, and fits the bill pretty stereotypically (leather jacket, etc.). There's really just one time that the protagonist shares something about themself, and it's a memory without concrete details. We learn something about the Rock Star's regrets and his motivations for wanting to escape the terminal fall, but this (Spoiler - click to show)(feeling bad about leaving his partner) is also kind of bland and not developed with any specificity. Some distinctive characterization through interesting conversations that push beyond cliches would have made me care much more about these characters and their fates.

The other aspect that could have been addressed was the limited range of interactions and branching options. For most passages, there are a couple of the same interactions: to grab (onto your Fellow Faller), to dive, or to look. In most cases, these actions have the same kind of results. I get that the point of the game is to (Spoiler - click to show)dive into the unknown of the cyclone-void, perhaps dying or perhaps escaping back into life but these actions felt constrained and without real stakes. A game with a limited set of actions or a mostly linear trajectory can work well, but only if other aspects of the game are sufficiently robust to motivate the player -- perhaps if sometimes these actions led to unexpected results, or if the 'morale of the story' was not telegraphed so early on.

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- Pegbiter (Malmö, Sweden), October 2, 2023


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