we, the remainder

by Charm Cochran profile


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Number of Ratings: 8
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1-8 of 8

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A parade of horribles, January 7, 2022
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2021

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review posted to the IntFict forums during the 2021 IFComp. My son Henry was born right before the Comp, meaning I was fairly sleep-deprived and loopy while I played and reviewed many of the games, so in addition to a highlight and lowlight, the review includes an explanation of how new fatherhood has led me to betray the hard work the author put into their piece)

My favorite band is indie-rockers the Mountain Goats, on the strength not just of the songs but also the witty, humane stage banter. There’s this one bit that's stuck with me ever since I heard it: the frontman talks about how when he first started writing songs, all the romantic ones involved protagonists stalking the objects of their quote-unquote affections, because what’s more emotionally intense than stalking? But of course beyond the super problematic nature of this approach, this means all your songs are kind of the same, and have nowhere to build. So pretty soon he wised up and moved on.

One glance at the content warnings for we, the remainder should indicate why I bring this up – I thought A Papal Summons was going to run away with the Most CWs sweepstakes, but it’s actually a close-run thing. The game is about a disabled girl who’s been left behind when the cult she and her mother belong to transcends their earthly fetters. This is a compelling premise, but I found myself exhausted by the author’s decision to twist every dial to 11. There are piles of dead bodies, gross-out scenes with spoiled food, and a bingo-card’s worth of abuse heaped upon the young protagonist as well as comprehensively meted out from the prophet to all his followers. It’s certainly effective at setting a mood of well-nigh-postapocalyptic horror – and there are indications that some of the terrible things on display are hallucinations brought on by trauma and starvation – but I found it hard to immerse myself in such a grand guignol spectacle, as the comprehensive awfulness put me at a distance. It also made the cult members seem less like real people who’d made understandably-bad choices to trade off their autonomy for a sense of belonging, and more like cardboard cutouts in a cabinet of horrors.

Gameplay-wise, we, the remainder is curiously parser-like, with compass navigation links off to the sides of the screen and each location in the large map offering three or so different objects to interact with. Some are just there for atmosphere, but a few of can be picked up (there are inventory puzzles, but they’re handled automatically so long as you’ve been to the right place to get the right item). And others trigger flashbacks, as the protagonist recalls one or another instance of abuse (there’s a suppressed-memories trope here that feels a bit icky). The writing is effective, as these vignettes do convey a sense of what life was like in the cult – and in fairness, there are a few moments that leaven the near-unremitting darkness of the story with at least potential rays of light. The ending too is reasonably positive, at least the one I got (apparently if you’re less efficient at exploring, you can get different ones). I think it would have rang truer if the path to get there had been less choked with muck, though.

Highlight: There’s an effective bit of characterization early on, where you can decide what single talismanic object you’ve kept hidden from your controlling mother – and once you’ve picked it, there are numerous callbacks to you touching it for comfort as you encounter the compound’s terrors.

Lowlight: Since I was playing on mobile, I accidentally clicked through the aforementioned passage really quickly, and didn’t see a way to undo to see the other choices. I wound up with an Orioles baseball cap, which I guess was OK?

How I failed the author: since I played on my phone, the cool ascii-art map didn’t display properly, which made navigation difficult. Though east and west seemed to be flipped on my screen in a confusing way, and having the map available maybe would have made me feel like I was playing Angband, so perhaps it’s for the best!

- E.K., November 22, 2021

- Karl Ove Hufthammer (Bergen, Norway), November 15, 2021

- Zape, November 1, 2021

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Atmospheric Twine mystery, October 31, 2021

I enjoyed this descriptive horror exploration game. It's the kind of writing that keeps things just vague enough at the beginning, but adds to the story as you progress. There are numerous optional pieces to the game, as well as several endings, making it worth replaying. Rather than racing to the most direct path to a solution, I wanted to take my time with this story, exploring everything. I thought the puzzles were very manageable and intuitive; I never felt stuck. The reveals rewarded my probing as the bigger picture came into view. Recommended.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
The aftermath of an unspeakable event, October 17, 2021

This choice-based exploration piece tells the story of a girl who wakes up in a deserted community and seeks out food and answers to the mystery behind everyone’s disappearance.

The structure of the piece is beautifully realized through a gradual exploration of the eerily empty community, which allows for bits of memory and story to come together piece by piece into a frightening but powerful whole. I felt a pervasive sense of dread building as I played, and I was fully invested in the outcome by the time the climax hit.

I will say that I was confused by the climactic scene, which reveals the truth of the community in a flash of memories and/or visions. I realize that there’s a blend of reality, visions, and religious symbolism throughout the piece—angels appear in physical form—so I do understand why details might have been kept vague.

- Ann Hugo (Canada), October 12, 2021

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Surreal horror game with religious themes in a compound, October 4, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This game features a hungry young protagonist in a wheelchair that explores a large world in Twine.

This game is very location-and-inventory based, with a large map (including an actual in-game map at one point) and several lock and key puzzles.

Gameplay consists of exploration, with special optional memories unlocked while a larger main storyline plays out.

Stylistically, it leaves many words uncapitalized and switches to different colors to signify different themes.

The story is a surreal religious horror where it's difficult to know what is real and what isn't. There is a large amount of imagery taken directly from the book of Revelations, and much of gameplay revolves around the fact that you are someone in a cult.

Overall, I found the surreal religious imagery to be effective. Many of the parts about wheelchair use seemed realistic based off of my experience with living with a wheelchair user for almost a decade (except getting through farmland!).

I appreciate the author leaving a lot up to imagination, using nuance and hiding behind symbolic imagery.

-Polish: There were noticeable typos. Everything else was great.
+Interactivity: The world map and the puzzles felt good.
+Descriptiveness: Very vivid writing, some of the most descriptive I've seen this comp.
+Emotional impact: I'm really into this stuff. It doesn't represent my worldview (I have a more hopeful interpretation of Revelations) but it lies in the intersection of my interests.
-Would I play again? It was pretty dark and I felt like I understood the message I was going to get, so I'm not sure I'll revisit.

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