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Four Sittings in a Sinking House

by Bruno Dias profile


(based on 16 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

The thing about sinking is: the sea is not a void. If you're sinking, you're displacing something.

A Grand Guignol entry for ECTOCOMP 2016

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 31, 2016
Current Version: 1.1
License: Freeware
Development System: Blotter
IFID: Unknown
TUID: f7a6q8ckas89f36f

Followed by sequel Not All Things Make It Across, by Bruno Dias


2nd Place, Le Grand Guignol - EctoComp 2016


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Number of Reviews: 3
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A great multimedia creepy twine-like experience about consumerism, July 1, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game utilizes a nice animation of candles that changes throughout the game.

You play a sort of medium who contacts the ghosts (or memories) of a family in a house that is slowly sinking.

The writing is good, and deals with a good deal of capitalistic consumerism, but at heart this is a good creepy story. It didn't draw me in emotionally, but otherwise was enjoyable.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A barroom back fable about a haunted house, May 17, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic

[Time to completion: 15-20 minutes; this game doesn't work in Google Chrome]

Right. Yeah. The whole island was sinking, really. I say island because that's the official term, but if we're being honest it was more like a pretentious sandbar.

On a house on this sinking island, you perform sittings to uncover memories and, by so doing, figure out what went on in the house. Four candles flicker in the background of your choices, each one going out as you perform a sitting.

In this self-described "barroom back fable", the narrator is cynical, jaded. I got the sense that they, like the titular house, has put their glory days behind them, though having never played into cheap dreams peddled by cons,

You can perform tasks in roughly any order, but you have to uncover all available bits of memory to really figure out what's at the heart of this house. Not to give away the plot, but what's happening in the sinking house reflects the island itself: a place that free market forces took over, yet was chewed up and discarded when it lost its value.

Bruno's writing belies a keen eye for detail. The house's fallen state shows through its faded, garish fittings; the hypocrisy of the promises that were sold along with the house, in its sterility. Four Sittings is a satisfying, polished tale of urban magic, with the same sort of seriousness as, say, American Gods.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Tight little piece with strong voice and sense of place, November 16, 2016
by streever (America)

I loved this short horror work by Dias, set on a scrubby little island where rich New Englanders bought cottages and displaced the sheep herders and fishers who once eked out a living.

The voice of the main protagonist/narrator is strong and realistic; I could imagine this man talking to me in a dark bar. Little details complete his character--he doesn't just chain smoke, he makes a snide comment about vaping, too.

The house is navigated by clicking text links--room to room--and I quickly made a mental map in my head which looked an awful lot like the small Cape Cods and saltboxes of the coastal towns from my home state.

The ending is perfect: as far as I can tell, you have two choices, and it is worth playing a second time to experience both of them. There are other small choices throughout, but most of them function more as "which to do first", although a few conversational options are binary.

Highly recommended. I would love some appropriate audio in the background too, although I recognize that I'm getting greedy as the overall quality of Twine-like games improves. I imagine the quiet clink of glasses and low murmurs, the jukebox of a dive bar...

My only complaint is the candle UI, as it was; you use candles to communicate with the dead, and the game cleverly displays your candles at the bottom of the interface. I may have been wrong, but I had the sense that my candles were limited, and could be used up prematurely; it would be nice to have some way to know that this isn't the case, as it would remove a bit of, I think, unintended tension from the experience.

If you enjoyed Four Sittings in a Sinking House...

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Recommended Lists

Four Sittings in a Sinking House appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Ectocomp Games (All English Winners/Entries) by thecanvasrose
A list I created for myself so I can play all of these games. Sorted by rank and year. English entries. I'll add descriptions and my own ratings (out of 5 stars) to the entries in this list as I go through them.


The following polls include votes for Four Sittings in a Sinking House:

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible stories of 2016 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2016 which you think might be worth considering for Best Story in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here will...

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Multimedia of 2016 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2016 which you think might be worth considering for Best Use of Multimedia in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not...

This is version 2 of this page, edited by Bruno Dias on 31 October 2016 at 7:13pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item