The Warbler's Nest

by Jason McIntosh profile


Web Site

Go to the game's main page

Member Reviews

Number of Reviews: 11
Write a review

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.