The Terror Aboard the Speedwell

by Javy Gwaltney

Horror
2014

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Deep twine piece with many endings and narrative branches, September 2, 2014
by streever (America)

While on a routine mission, a small crew discovers an unknown alien presence, and accidentally brings it on board the Speedwell. The premise of this long, branching CYOA is a much-loved staple of the sci-fi horror genre, reminiscent of Ridley Scott's Aliens. Despite the use of a standard convention of sci-fi, this piece is both original and creative.

The game starts with a choice between two protagonists, both women, with their own personalities, backgrounds, and identities. All of the characters feel unique and interesting, transcending their archetypes and having complex relationships with the protagonist and the rest of the crew.

The quality of the writing shows throughout the story, in descriptions, dialogue, and pacing. This is a well-written piece.

This work is fairly long, and could take between 20 minutes and an hour on your first play-through. You'll want to play it again; some choices close off other parts of the narrative, and you won't have a complete picture of many of the characters if you don't repeat your game and try different options.

There are many endings possible, and though I've only experienced a few of them, I suspect that there is no clear-cut 'happy ending'; while there isn't a 'perfect score ride into the sunset ending', there are certainly different happy epilogues where your protagonist salvages her future and has a satisfying life post-tragedy. Perhaps more enjoyable is the chance to learn more about the crewmates and the protagonist, instead of worrying about optimal choices and keeping a spread-sheet of outcomes.

Some parts of the plot are pre-determined, but they set the overall tone of the story, and the work would suffer if they could be avoided. Despite these pre-determined outcomes, my decisions felt natural, organic, and true to the character I was playing; at no time did I feel like I was a passive observer, no matter how little control my protagonist had over the events around her.

Presentationally the game shines as well; using an evocative typeface, a great cover illustration, and a well-designed layout, it's a joy to read and interact with.

All in all, this is a highly recommended Twine story which should provide a lot of replay value.

As a footnote, I'll mention that this is one of the few commercial modern interactive fiction projects I've seen, and it's built in Twine no less. I was impressed by this attempt at selling a game written in Twine, and happily paid above the minimum price listed. I think this is an exciting experiment, and hope it proceeds well.