The Gift of What You Notice More

by Xavid profile and Zan

Surreal escape room

Go to the game's main page

Member Reviews

Number of Reviews: 9
Write a review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
IFComp 2023: The Gift of What You Notice More, October 9, 2023
by Kastel
Related reviews: ifcomp2023

I'm always fascinated by puzzle Twine games with inventories because there's the obvious question, "Why not parser?", that lingers in the background. Many answer that question differently -- and with this game, there's several reasons but one particular reason stands out the most: it evokes transient, elliptical connections that remind the player is never fully in control, which is perfect for a story like this.

Your player character is packing up things in the middle of the night. Scattered around the apartment are photos of the past, of what felt like better days now long gone. But as the player mindlessly clicks hyperlinks to figure out where to go next, they'll (Spoiler - click to show)stumble upon three poets in a cafe who cryptically ask them to consider (and interact with) some old history between the player character and someone whose name is obscured. There, the game finally opens up and reveals its true self, a meditative journey on the meaning of memories and what to do with them in the face of necessary change.

As I played through the game, I'm reminded of Amanda Walker's After the Accident and especially Steve Evans's Photograph: A Portrait of Reflection as both games explore flashbacks as interactive spaces and are relatively puzzleless. However, The Gift of What You Notice More takes a more dream-like puzzle game approach: it has light adventure game puzzles that border on the surreal. These memories are to be puzzled out, grasped, shaken to their fuller meaning by the player character. They are, in other words, allegories that only make sense to this character.

I think this is the main reason why this game has to be hypertext. In parser games, you have a direct connection to the player character because you're typing their actions. Clicking on links feels more detached. The player character in Twine games always feels more autonomous than their parser counterparts. Some decisions we as players make in the game feel life-changing, but we won't see their results. Their consequences are secrets only known to the player character.

As a result, the title was more of a spiritual journey for the player character than the player, despite it being written in second-person. It feels like I've just played through someone's dream-diary except it's lightly dressed up as an adventure game. This is likely why I couldn't connect with the player character, but at the same time, it felt good to help them achieve their goals. The game itself is therapeutic for the character and their resolution to change things resonates with me.

That said, I don't think the puzzle design is perfect. My issues boil down to two things:

(Spoiler - click to show)1) You have to keep going back and forth between the poets and the photos in order to advance the game state, which can be quite cumbersome.

2) I came into the game assuming all the puzzles in each memory are internally solvable, but some puzzles require items that are only acquirable in a future game state. It's frustrating to advance a puzzle so far only to be confused why I haven't found the next step. In the end, I ended up following the walkthrough, which is a shame because I was enjoying the strange puzzles.

But overall, I like The Gift of What You Notice More because it's simply an uplifting game that inspires and soothes. While I've seen the subject matter played out before in different contexts, its use of hyperlinks and allegorical constructions of memory evokes the relatable tensions of uncertainty, powerlessness, and the necessity to change. I came out of the game feeling like I had just helped someone untangle their feelings, and that's not an experience I get to have in games every day.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment