Whom The Telling Changed

by Aaron A. Reed profile

Fiction
2005

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Number of Reviews: 8
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
The first impression can be misleading, May 30, 2008
by Pavel Soukenik (Kirkland, WA)

This is a very rich game of shaping the attitude of a tribe on the verge of war. Your choices create a nice variety of possibilities: who you are, who is the storyteller and which approach in the story you promote. Although the impact of the personality of the storyteller seems minimal, other choices really matter. To promote the attitudes of the tribe, you select highlighted keywords from the telling. This is quite effective although sometimes it was impossible to tell whether it would result in a push in the desired direction. Ocassionally, the keyword triggers an unobtrusive clarification whether you want to point out an aspect A or B by uncovering your internal weighing of the two options.

There are two problems though. The first is an unfortunate design decision: A title that allows the reader to get through the story by typing "wait" is taking a great gamble. The author better make sure the reader has good reasons to care for and understand what is going on. (I got to the storytelling part in about seven turns and waited, skimming, skipping through all of it, lacking a real motivation to actually do something.) The good news is that when (and if) you actually reach the end in this fashion, you will learn that you basically failed because you did not learn how to shape the story. In addition, you are given a nice recap of the background and what happened; a part of this would be so much needed at the beginning to get the player hooked.

The second problem is at the beginning when you choose your occupation and the identity of your companion. Unfortunately, the method used to give the player the option to decide is ill-chosen. [Details with a minor spoiler:] (Spoiler - click to show)You are told there is a "symbol" of your occupation. When you refer to it, you get a library disambiguation message between a medicine bag and a dagger (which had not been mentioned). The same problem appears soon after, when you are introduced to two main characters, one of them being your "love". For a player who does not know she is effectively defining the main character, this creates confusion, especially in what will often be the first turns.

Don't get discouraged by the first impression. This is a deep, meaningful game. You might still find yourself not drawn into the story the first time through, but by the time it ends, you will probably want to give it a second try.