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About the Story
Empathy, entanglement, and an ethical dilemma.
22nd place - 27th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2021)
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 9
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This is a Twine game which can be completed relatively quickly (around 30 minutes, much faster if clicking fast). It has 15 different endings depending on 3 different statistics that change throughout the game.
You play as a goat who works at a laboratory doing research on a mysterious substance. There is an accident, and you have to decide how you feel about work and what you want to do with your life.
I played through to all 15 endings, though the text of the middle game doesn't change much from playthrough to playthrough (there are about 2-3 variations for each section, so you'll see them all multiple times by the end).
The art is really lovely, it was the high point of the game for me.
Where Goat Game succeeds the most, to me, is in making a high-quality, smooth and bug free experience for the player where they can get absorbed into a story about an alternate world.
Where Goat Game falls short, to me, is in agency and plotting. The player character never really acts; everything is a reaction, except the final choice. Questions are all about how we feel, or how we respond to the actions of others. I would have wanted more chances to act independently of others.
Plotwise, there are many Checkhov's guns that never fire. There is a lot of worldbuilding here that just never goes anywhere. Like another reviewer said, the fact that these are goats is essentially immaterial; you could change a few details in the game and it would be the same. Similarly, you could change the dangerous magical substance to any kind of workplace safety issue and get the same feeling.
Finding all endings can be tough. I stalled out after 8, and ended up looking at the source for tips. The system is actually really clean and nice; if you want to see all endings and are really stuck, here is a complete breakdown (major spoilers:)(Spoiler - click to show) there are only 3 real choices in the midgame, each one raising one of the 3 main stats. The choices are the 'i like working/living/don't like living here', 'don't acquire secrets/sign petition/don't sign petition', and 'defend/criticize/decline'. Your final stats fall into one of 7 categories: tied stats, a value of 3 in a single stat, and any combination of 2 stats>0 and 1 stat=0. Each of these 7 cases has 2 endings depending on whether you leave or stay.
First of all, I love the art and the animated gifs. This game probably has the best art of all the games I've seen at the comp.
This is a workplace drama about an innovative biotech company with a poor safety record. Spoilers for midgame: (Spoiler - click to show)thereís a deadly explosion at the company due to the safety issues, and you decide how to respond: do you stay at the company or quit? It feels rather topical, and comments on the movement towards unionization in high-tech industries.
Overall itís a pretty low-key game. The stakes are high, as shown in the endings, but high in an ordinary, everyday way. Iíve never personally been in a situation like this, but it seems like a realistic exploration of the various tradeoffs in dealing with a difficult workplace - do you try to organize, quit, or just ignore the bad things?
The game itself is much shorter than the labeled 2 hours, taking only about 15 minutes per playthrough. However, there are 15 endings, which are based on a combination of the final choice (leave or stay), along with the stats of work, social, and opportunity. I got all of them; I got kind of obsessed with finding all the endings, and I figured it out I think. Without looking at the source!
Spoilers for the endings:
(Spoiler - click to show)
There are only three choices that affect the ending: the first one deciding whether you like the work, what to do about the underground secrets, and the answer you give to the interviewer. The stats can be low, med, or high.
I like working here: +work (work is med)
I like living here: +social (social is med)
I donít like working here: +opportunity (opportunity is med)
Donít find the secret: +work only if work is low
Sign the petition: +social only if social is low
Donít sign the petition: +opportunity only if opportunity is low
Defend your work: +work if there is only one med or work is low
Criticize your work: +social if there is only one med or social is low
No comment: +opportunity if there is only one med or opportunity is low
So this leaves seven configurations (there are multiple choice combinations for some of these configurations):
++Work (like working here, don't find the secret, defend your work)
++Social (like living here, sign the petition, criticize)
++Opportunity (don't like working here, don't sign the petition, no comment)
+Work, +social (like working here, sign the petition, defend or criticize)
+work, +opportunity (like working here, don't sign the petition, no comment or defend)
+social, +opportunity (like living here, don't sign the petition, no comment or criticize)
+work, +social, +opportunity (like working here, sign the petition, no comment)
For each of these combinations, you can either stay or quit. However, this only gives us 14 endings. The last ending requires having all 14 of the previous endings, and will automatically unlock. ItísÖ kind of supernatural/dream-like? It suggests a way out of this mess, in solidarity, but doesnít make a firm commitment.
Honestly, I was a little disappointed at the final ending; I thought there would be a more definite conclusion that justified the time I invested, but it wasnít really there. It was even more ambiguous than the other endings.
But maybe thatís the point. Maybe the point is, all the effort we put into systems that donít care about us is futile. Maybe I really should be spending time with my friends instead of figuring out how to get the 15th ending in an interactive fiction game about goats.
This game is gorgeous, with slightly-animated illustrations for various sections of the story. I chuckled when I scrolled down to read about going down in an elevator and the elevator illustration scrolled up into the side of the screen. The UI is really nice too.
I have a daughter with a disabling genetic defect, so I teared up a little when I heard about how the protagonist of this story wanted to help their niece who has a genetic defect. I would have liked to explore more about the niece's disability and the medical researcher's aloofness to it (this was hinted at).
There are 15 endings based on your decisions. The decisions you make are things like who you decided to talk to and whether or not you ate alone most of the time at work. Finding the "best" ending (if one exists) was not intuitive at all. I chose all the "best" worker attributes and got one ending and chose a mixture and got a different one. I understand the idea, but I couldn't figure it out intuitively. I ended up reading the endings from the game's HTML files. I liked how nuanced they were, but I didn't have the patience to work out how to get them all in the individual game.
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