Mother Tongue

by Nell Raban

Slice of life
2020

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Number of Reviews: 8
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short but compelling dialogue between immigrant mother and daughter, October 10, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This game had a ton of buzz on Twitter and received a lot of early reviews, so I was interested in playing it.

It turns out to be really good. Raban seems to have a firm grasp of storywriting and interactivity. This is a perfectly well-crafted game, limited only by its relatively small size. I imagine, though, that many judges will be happy to find a quick and enjoyable game with excellent handicraft.

In this game, you are texting with your mother. You come from a family of immigrants, and your mother decides to try and teach you Tagalog over the phone. She quizzes you on your life and choices while trying to introduce you to various grammatical rules which, of course, you could never absorb in a single sitting, but which she seems determined to impart.

This game uses slow text to good effect, which is really rare. I think the keys are having a very short game with well-defined parameters. Here, we know we're in a text message conversation which can't last too long, and the game is advertised as short. The delays are realistic and not too long.

I think the best part of the game is showing the tension between a mother (especially a southeast asian mother), her desires for her American-raised children and the children's own personality and feelings. I think this is great.

+Polish: Very polished.
+Descriptive: The characters really came alive.
+Interactivity: I felt like my choices really mattered.
+Emotional impact: Felt some tension. Worried I'd say the wrong things.
+Would I play again? Sure!