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About the Story
Ash is an autobiographical story about the final days of life, and the loss of a parent.
16th Place - 22nd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2016)
The Breakfast Review
"Ash" is an experience. It's the experience of death, of waiting for a parent to die, and of dealing with the whole process. It is, mercifully, free of any excess drama and angst: this isn't an angry, impassioned departure, but a restrained, understated passing. In a way, this actually makes the piece more "real", at least to me, and therefore more touching.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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[Time to completion: 20-25 minutes]
Ash is about watching someone die. The PC, here, is getting to grips with their mother's proximity to death; the prevailing mood is deep weariness. The writing is stark, the descriptions minimal. The links mostly appear in conversation, and their brevity suggests that both the PC and their mother have long since exhausted most conventional conversational topics.
Institutional healthcare looms large in this story. Healthcare professionals appear mostly as faceless, nameless, taciturn individuals, delivering bad news bluntly and awkwardly, referred to in aggregate, making the hospital seem not even like a prison, but a mechanised facility. Ash emphasises how no one knows what is going on, how no one cares enough to look up from the charts and see how patients are doing, how bureaucracy strangles good medicine. The result is claustrophobia, a sense of being trapped.
Ash illuminates an aspect of illness not often touched on in games, and despite everything, despite everything, remains hopeful.
This game shows, like Stone Harbor, the power of a great story mixed with good physical and visual interaction. Both games are strongly linear, with fewer interactions, but with a great effect.
Ash tells the story of the death of the authors mom, a lingering death in the hospital. There are some interesting choices in the story with subtle effects later, but it's mostly linear. The beauty comes from the tight writing, the smooth visual effects, the appropriate font, and the way that the choices seem to reflect thought and intent more than actual decisions. You are choosing how to feel, not what to do. This worked well for me.
I finished both times with goosebumps all over my arm. This game is on the opposite end of the also great Cactus Blue Motel in terms of world model and interactivity, but both are great. Neither game resembles the super-branching wild stories that the lower-placing entries have. I love this game.
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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 Writing of 2016 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2016 which you think might be worth considering for Best Writing in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here...