The Warbler's Nest

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Number of Reviews: 11
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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.

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.

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.

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Short, medieval, edgy psychological thriller, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a game kind of like the stories Ethan Frome or the Yellow Wallpaper, where you have a kind of growing sick feeling in your gut, not from gore or sex or anything like that, but from a disturbing psychological predicament.

This game is set in medieval times, and deals with faeries and the fey. Or does it? It's hard to tell. You are outside gathering eggshells, and soon you discover what purpose they are for.

This game has stuck with me for a very long time. It creeped me out. I don't want to give away too much, so suffice to say that you can make strong moral choices.

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Short Game, Sticks with You, October 23, 2015
by RickyD (South Carolina, USA)

What a game! It really messed with my head. Although I've never faced the exact dilemma faced by the protagonist, (Spoiler - click to show)I am the father of a young child and know what its like to try to calm an inconsolable baby, especially when you're both sleep-deprived. As such, finding the happy endings was fairly easy, and I couldn't bring myself to try the "unhappy" one, even though I know it's just a game. Yes, to me it was that compelling of a story, even though it was a short one.

Maybe I just get too caught up in it, but that says a lot about the game itself.

If I had to nitpick one thing -- there are a lot of places mentioned in the narration that you can't actually visit. I know it hints at a larger world "out there", but I don't know that it was necessary. But that's a minor thing that I'm willing to overlook.

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
The age-old conflict between head and heart, May 21, 2013
by Andromache (Hawaii)

My predominant mood after finishing this game is one of contemplation. I am not getting where the horror or sorrow mentioned by others comes into play. But I found all the possible endings without much trouble, and each of them says something about the player character as a person. I found that the character was both believable and easily identified with. There is a dark side to her that I could appreciate, as well as a dutifulness that I could respect.

The writing is rather spare and minimalist. In fact, there aren't really many places to explore. But IF conventions are honored. You're told what you need to do, and cut scenes give relevant backstory but are vague enough to have the player wondering what's being alluded to. Even now, I'm unsure about a few points. Perhaps reading more about the game will bring some insight.

Really, though, the central point of this game is a moral choice, so emotional impact comes from the various endings.

There are no puzzles in this game. Everything you need to do is simply achieved, so that all focus goes to the story and setting. But setting falls down for me because not everything was implemented. (Spoiler - click to show)The reeds rustle, but you can't hear the river. No ability to touch things, either.

I think there are clear links between the tasks at the beginning of the game and the protagonist's backstory, as well as a juxtaposition, a mirroring, of reality and the character's internal monologue. This creates a pleasing symmetry.

Because of the sparse prose, which doesn't really do it for me aesthetically, I rated this game as average. But it has a good story and doesn't take any significant time. Everyone should play it at least once. Not much commitment and worth it for anyone who cares about the literary side of IF.

Edit: I upped the rating because the impact really hit me hours after finishing the game, when I realized I was still thinking about it. (Spoiler - click to show)The horrifying barbarism probably perpetrated on innocent children and unfortunate mothers.

Great writing makes up for obvious twist, December 3, 2012

I loved the atmosphere in this one, and it's all down to great writing. This isn't a long enough game for me to have a strong opinion on pace, and I found the central concept obvious almost from the first. It would have been nice to see slightly subtler foreshadowing; (Spoiler - click to show)I thought the birds were totally anvilicious in the way they were written, not just because I immediately knew what was going on with them and that they're a common analogy for changelings but because I thought the PC would as well. The character avoiding voicing her worries about her baby, even in her own head, I could swallow, but not that a thatcher would have no idea about cuckoo behavior, behavior that threatens a species we know the protagonist is familiar with and considers beneficial to her work. I was sorry there weren't more endings; I kept hoping there would be a bit more to the game.

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Strong and sad, May 15, 2012

I just finished this story and I can't stop thinking about it. It is a well-written story about a ....well, to give anything away would be wrong. Finding out who the protagonist is and what they are doing is the entire game, and the source of the horror in the story. I was surprised at how sympathetic the main character was. It made the story so sad what they were going through, and it made one of the endings all the more awful. The subject matter of this story could be offensive, or even funny in a sick way, but the author keeps it simple and does a good job of having the reader see through the eyes of the protagonist and feel for another innocent character in the story, too. It's a very short game, and I appreciated the way examining objects advanced the story. It kept me in the story since I didn't have to struggle to come up with what the author wanted me to do. Instead, I just got deeper and deeper into this world, although in some way I did not want to. I also liked menace of the natural world in this game. It changed the way I think and feel about the bird (not the one in the title) mentioned here. Overall, a thoughtful and observant story which puts you in the shoes of another person who acts in a way you could never imagine doing yourself. After I finished, I had the same feeling that I do when I wake up from a bad dream and am so thankful none of that really happened.

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Minimalist and atmospheric, February 21, 2012
by Janos Honkonen (Helsinki, Finland)

The Warbler's Nest is a great mood piece, not really horror and not really drama, but something in between. The game itself is rather short and not very puzzley, which is a good thing for the atmosphere and the overall mood of this game.

If you like story and interesting narrative over puzzles, The Warbler's Nest is a must to play.

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