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Not very interactive - but well-written and poignant, January 18, 2019
This short, choice-based game feels to me like someone baring his soul, with all of the accompanying awkwardness, pain, and poignancy.
The story is about Michael, a lonely, shy gay man, recalling his first junior high crush - ten years ago - on a straight boy, Billy. He reflects on the intensity of his feelings for Billy, the things he did to impress Billy, the poetry he wrote for Billy, Billy's smile. He wonders what would have happened if he had ever confessed his feelings for Billy.
So, they're both adults now, and Michael decides to go visit Billy and tell him about the crush that he had all those years ago. Michael seems to want closure or acknowledgement - or maybe he just wants to prove to himself that he's a braver man than he was back then.
A story like this could come across as maudlin, but Time Passed did not feel that way to me: The continual self-reflection and raw honesty of the prose save it from that. In fact, Time Passed has my favorite writing out of all the IFComp 2018 games.
There's only one real choice that I can tell. It's (Spoiler - click to show)not Michael's but Billy's, actually. As the player, you get to choose whether Billy claims to remember Michael. Remembering Michael is the more interesting of the two options and spools the story out longer.
The ending text for the longer of the two options captures the self-reflection and raw honesty I mentioned earlier:
(Spoiler - click to show)"On the walk back to my parents' place I try to keep my thoughts blank, but soon enough one comes to me anyways: I wish I'd told you earlier. But of course I don't. If I had, if you had kissed me in our youth and dissolved my pain, so many things in my life would not be where they are now, and I'm happy now. I'm in a good place. I wouldn't want that to change.
"Then I scold myself. I don't have to think about the sequence of events. I can wish you'd kissed me and want to keep my life the way it is. I'm allowed to have uncomplicated regret. Aren't I?
I really resonated with Time Passed. It reminded me of unrequited love, the times I said something, the times I didn't, the times I wondered whether I should have said something, the times I second- and third-guessed myself. It even reminded me of the times when I've had someone confess love to me and I had no idea they felt that way, leaving me wondering "How do I respond to this?"
Even decisions that aren't about romance - that job I might have taken, or that chance I had to move to that city. We all do this kind of thinking back and wondering "What if...?"
A short, awkward, raw, and poignant piece of IF.