Download


Play on itch.io
Play this game in your Web browser.
Unwinnable
Play this game in your Web browser.

Have you played this game?

You can rate this game, record that you've played it, or put it on your wish list after you log in.

Playlists and Wishlists

RSS Feeds

New member reviews
Updates to downloadable files
All updates to this page

The Arboretum

by Matthew S. Burns

2014

Web Site

(based on 5 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

The Arboretum is a mostly linear interactive story about dating, growing up, and our relationships to our past and future selves. It also demonstrates that a choice doesn't need to show you the consequences to be meaningful.


Game Details

First Publication Date: July 24, 2014
Current Version: Unknown
License: Commercial
Development System: Twine
IFID: Unknown
TUID: dccne8lmyb2dgfjb

Editorial Reviews

Rock, Paper, Shotgun
The Arboretum is a gentle and deftly-written text adventure, linear and beautiful in texture. It is a delicate exploration of the feelings of two teenagers whose only dating advice came from hentai and anime, and their fumbling fights against their own expectations of romance.
See the full review

Tags

- View the most common tags (What's a tag?)

(Log in to add your own tags)

Member Reviews

5 star:
(1)
4 star:
(3)
3 star:
(0)
2 star:
(1)
1 star:
(0)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 1
Write a review


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Nostalgic romance in twine, December 22, 2020

The Arboretum is an introspective romance story. It is basically a linear click-to-advance story/kinetic novel (I'm reluctant to call it hypertext even), with only one choice at the end that is more reflective than anything else. However, I appreciated the writing enough that it worked for me.

The story is told as a flashback from two perspectives: the protagonists are middle-class Asian-American high school students living in a college town in Texas, Derek and Lillian (upon re-reading, I don't know if Lillian is Asian-American, but Derek is). Both of them are introverted and socially isolated, and both of them are not really interested in the paths that are pushed onto them by their academically-oriented families. Despite being a little stereotypical, this depiction rang true to me. Eventually, Derek asks Lillian on a possible date, and she accepts. They hang out at a mall, and later go on a date to an arboretum, hence the title.

Most of the sentences in the story are introspective, providing Derek and Lillian's inner monologues. They both have their own anxieties, Derek about being a "real man" and living up to expectations, Lillian about her lack of a stable identity and her literary imagination. The two of them connect through acting out roles as anime and video game characters, of playing at and abandoning pretenses, of revealing tidbits of their "true selves" insofar that such a thing exists. Maybe it's just my personal biases, but I really liked the writing in these bits. It feels self-aware and lacks the self-importance of a lot of coming-of-age stuff.

The story ends with Derek and Lillian fast-forwarded 10 years. They've grown up and have real jobs now, never meeting each other since high school, and they both have memories of their past meeting, filtered through nostalgia. Will they meet again? That's the one choice at the end of the story, after which it immediately ends.

The author has done a lot of other work in games, including writing Eliza, one of my favorite visual novels. So I'm probably a little biased here. I would say that this story is similar to Lilium and other introspective and nostalgic twine stories.


If you enjoyed The Arboretum...

Related Games

People who like The Arboretum also gave high ratings to these games:

Cape, by Bruno Dias
Average member rating: (43 ratings)
Cape is a superhero origin story for the cyberpunk dystopia we're all living in.

You Couldn't Have Done That, by Ann Hugo
Average member rating: (22 ratings)
Your first day on the job wasn't going to be pleasant. Such was inevitable. It's a big change. And, you are autistic. But this was a different story, far worse than unpleasant.

the uncle who works for nintendo, by michael lutz
Average member rating: (77 ratings)
It will take some time to get through one game, maybe 15 to 20 minutes your first go? It has five possible endings. The original commissioned artwork (some glimpsed in the cover art) was made by the talented Kimberly Parker...

Suggest a game

Links




This is version 4 of this page, edited by autumnc on 14 December 2020 at 9:34pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item