The Warbler's Nest

by Jason McIntosh profile


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Number of Ratings: 87
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Single-page horror, May 25, 2023
by f-a

A short game which uses the old trick of starting in medias res to paint an eerie tale, and does it in a very skillfull manner.

As usual with short works I prefer not to add much more, if not to praise the writing and the images the author managed to create; not a word is superfluous, not an action is without reason.

Make sure to check the ”Afterword” once you finished playing, it is as satisfying as the game itself.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
One Strong Idea, One Intense Experience, May 22, 2023

The Warbler's Nest is about one strong idea and commits to it.

At first, your character is tasked to do some strange ritual with eggshells in the middle of the reeds. And the mystery deepens as more steps trickle in through the player interacting more with the parser.

Much of the touted psychological horror involves you trying to understand what the player character is actually doing and, later on, whether you agree with their actions. The parser becomes an obstacle between the player and the protagonist. You're trying to convince her that things are alright, but her state of mind refuses to accept this.

How do you tell someone that their fears are unfounded? The main puzzle is pretty simple as parser games go, but the protagonist's reluctance means the parser implementation can get a bit finicky. And part of that is intentional; the parser is the protagonist's state of mind. The character is frustrating to work with, but you can't also blame her for what she's going through: (Spoiler - click to show)a mother indoctrinated by awful folklore would easily have their judgment be clouded by uncertainty. It reminds me of 9:05 in that sense. As a result, I find the use of the parser to be really effective. It would've been easy to adapt this to a hypertext game, but the player struggling to guess the action feels intended. The protagonist is after all having a bad day.

The game does have its flaws. While I do think the limited implementation works for the most part, the game doesn't really give you much to examine or interact with. Very unfortunate as the reeds are a unique setting -- there's just too little description to place the player in the protagonist's shoes. The game feels aimless in the very beginning because of this. You're trying to figure out what you're supposed to do and that's fine, but I do think more interaction with scenery objects would keep the player more engaged. I also found it strange that the game doesn't really advertise it has multiple endings, which may mean people probably went with the worst ending and thought that was that.

But as far as short games go, I do think this title deserves some praise. It delivers an intense experience and it's hard to not be moved by the happier endings. The afterword provides some thematic context that really brings the point home. I admit I'm giving an extra star to the title, but I do appreciate any short game that can enunciate its message and leave a long-lasting impact on the player.

That's not easy to do and The Warbler's Nest does it without breaking a sweat.

- pieartsy (New York), March 16, 2023

- cashewehsac, December 22, 2022

- Cerfeuil, November 30, 2022

- Brad Buchanan (Seattle, Washington), November 14, 2022

- hoopla, June 7, 2021

- Karlok (Netherlands), April 28, 2021

- PepeSilvia, September 1, 2020

- peachesncream, August 4, 2020

- kierlani, June 23, 2020

- Edo, June 11, 2020

- _firexe, December 5, 2019

- Laney Berry, September 26, 2018

- tinroof, September 14, 2018

- Jan Strach, April 19, 2018

- faffpaper, April 11, 2018

- Stas, April 4, 2018

- xochie, November 14, 2017

- Viko (Canada), November 11, 2017

- Wanderlust, August 3, 2017

- TheAncientOne, March 25, 2017

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Short and simple, September 19, 2016

Good prose and good puzzle design. The puzzles do a good job of hinting towards the solution. If you are experienced with IF, you'll probably find them to be pleasantly easy and not frustrating. If you aren't there's a convenient "hint" website that can give you some tips if you are stuck. There's really only one "puzzle" to speak of in this game, that's pretty much it as far as challenge.

Overall, I have no complaints, but it wasn't particularly engrossing to me. It was short (about an hour) and the subject wasn't particularly interesting to me. Can't really talk about the subject without getting into spoiler territory, all I can say is that this IF didn't leave me "in awe" or anything like that - it just wasn't very memorable. I say that as someone who has never been a fan of short experiences.

You don't really stand to lose anything by playing it though, so go ahead and give it a try at some point.

- NinaS, July 3, 2016

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Quietly sinister short story set in a reedbank, May 1, 2016
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: phlegmatic

You are searching amongst the reeds for eggshells. If you believe the tailor, these are what you need to take back what is yours.

The Warbler's Nest doesn't immediately give up its story, but rather reveals it both through cutscenes and through environmental detail. This is aided by the mechanic, which is basically a treasure hunt. Given that this game is rather short, though, to reveal more about the story would spoil it. All I will say is that this game taps on faerie folklore and rituals related to them. It follows the interpretation of faerie folk as being intensely selfish yet bound by immoveable, arcane rules, which gives a quietly sinister air to the game as a whole.

Overall: understated horror is one of my favourite genres, and I really like how The Warbler's Nest handled that. This is a gem of a short story, well worth the 20 or so minutes it takes to play.

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