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About the Story
Two women take a wrong turn in the woods and make a gruesome discovery. They seek help from a mysterious stranger and are dragged into a vicious trap that they will be lucky to survive.
20th Place - 20th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2014)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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I found this game strangely engrossing, perhaps because I'm a fan of Mary Higgins Clark. I say strangely, because I'm usually not a fan of games with limited interactivity, walls of text, and strong profanity, all of which this game contains. However, Orisney's strong storytelling makes this game very memorable.
The game is quite long, and I couldn't find any way to save, so I recommend playing it all in one sitting. It's divided into a prologue and 3 or 4 chapters.
The story is about two sisters lost in the woods who discover increasingly disturbing things in the snow.
The style of the game is a dynamic short story, where you get about a page's worth of story at a time, then a single 'continue' link or a small number of small choices.
One interesting thing in this game is that quite a bit seems to indicate that your sister has her own playable story, yet this never materializes. I wonder if the author intended to add this feature, but never finished it.
The game includes strong violence.
I'm glad I played it, and I recommend it to fans of CSI or Higgins Clark.
Great, tense writing that maintains throughout the story, despite it being quite lengthy. Many horrors fall down when it comes to characterisation, but the characters here are likeable, relatable and competent, and you come to really invest in what happens to them...
Everything is impressively thought out and with a vivid level of detail and ongoing consistency - It might require a stronger warning that 'intended for mature audiences' though - it's genuinely pretty harrowing!
Really draws the reader in, often for much longer than they intended to be reading... for a pretty exhausting experience.
Some have criticised the degree of interactivity, but this tends to vary between IFs - And I felt the act of having to decide how to proceed next made me *feel* tense and as if everything hinged upon the next decision... with characters I had really come to care about hanging in the balance.
Really well written original horror experiences can be hard to find!
(This is an edited version of a review I originally wrote for my 2014 IFComp blog.)
It's usually lazy of a reviewer to summarise the content of a game they're reviewing by reprinting its blurb, but I think the blurb for Tia Orisney’s IFComp 2014 entry Following Me already does the best possible job for the purposes of my review, and handily builds in the limits of advance information the author would like players to know about the game:
"Two women take a wrong turn in the woods and make a gruesome discovery. They seek help from a mysterious stranger and are dragged into a vicious trap that they will be lucky to survive.
The story is delivered in a CYOA format characterised by long, unbroken passages of text studded with infrequent moments of choice and ‘Continue’ buttons. It’s a substantial read. Tia’s long format prose, within the context of this kind of game, was on display in two entries in the 2013 IFComp, of which I fully played one, Blood on the Heather", a wacky Buffy The Vampire Slayer-style adventure which wavered for me between being compelling and tiring. I remember the drive of much of the prose though, about which I wrote:
“I wouldn't underestimate the feat of achieving consistent propulsion of a story this big, which BOTH's writing pulls off comfortably, but it is the length of the thing which also throws the jumpy proofreading into relief.”
Following Me is a serious snowbound thriller which threatens to get very heavy. There's still the distraction of some loose proofreading dragging on the author's obvious storytelling skills, but the plot is tight, the whole thing is quite tense and the construction dense enough to push through problems. Psychologically it stays truthful to the headspace of Kat, the protagonist, and her moment to moment bursts of thought. (Occasionally I felt it was a spot off here – it's not that people don't have the odd bizarre and ostensibly comical thought during times of real peril, but I don't believe they narrate it to themselves at the time using the language they’d use to narrate it to someone else later. i.e. They have no time for a longer or circumspect view because they’re in immediate peril. Kat did this a bit too often for my taste. This is not a big nitpick in a piece which is psychologically on target most of the time.)
The physical manifestation of the bad guys is finally handled, too, the way Kat observes their little tics and physical dynamics. How they say things, where they look when they are delivering particular threats, how they brandish their rifles and how the older man brandishes his cane. These details accumulate to vividly convey the repugnance of their characters, and the experience of being a woman who has become their prisoner.
The choices offered always read as weighty alternatives and they caused me a lot of player deliberation, though the ultimate construction of the game is such that most roads eventually lead to Rome. The choices create different vectors to get there, shepherding the prose in a broad way that reflects a choice you probably made heavily, and so whose outcome you are predisposed to invest in. Because Following Me is a thriller with life-and-death stakes for the characters, I think this scheme works well in this game.
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