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It's Halloween, and you're in a cult. What could go wrong?, November 13, 2022
God is in the Radio is a short visual novel made in ReníPy, and with its heavy emphasis on the visual side stands out from the crowd. (This is no mean feat given the number of high-quality games in this yearís Ectocomp!) The story focuses on an unnamed cult centered around the Major Arcana of the Tarot, who have just been told by their High Priestess that they can hear a message from God of they complete a ritual involving a radio. The plot is mostly on rails, with the protagonist Death being given a few choices to decide how they feel or react to the whole ritual situation - these wonít change things immediately, but will affect what ending you get.
Despite the relative lack of interactivity, I had no trouble staying engaged with the plot. Part of this is because the story is well-written and well-paced, with tension slowly rising at every step. The other part is due to some kind of writing wizardry, because there are 22(!!!) characters including the protagonist - one for every Major Arcana in the Tarot. They all have unique portraits and uniquely defined characterization, and somehow despite being a short game with this many characters it doesnít feel overstuffed. Mostly I think this is because the full cast only participates in the ritual, with a more limited number being part of the rising tension beforehand. Even with that it would be easy for the ritual portion to outstay its welcome so I am deeply impressed.
My only gripe with this game is how the endings are managed - the three choices are spread out throughout the game, and as far as I can tell different choices wonít change anything until you get a different ending. Because of this I wasnít motivated to play through again in the hope of seeing the other endings (I got ending 2), but I donít think this is necessarily a flaw in the game, per se. Most VNs Iíve played are like this (i.e. with long sections of non-interactive text between choices) but most of them make up for it by allowing you to skip text youíve already seen, effectively fast-forwarding you to important choices and/or new content. God is in the Radio was written in four and a half hours and is a phenomenal game given that restriction, but I think it could be elevated further if the author implemented a similar feature.