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About the Story
3AM, March 2020 - or is it April already? You are so, so lonely.
Entrant - Single Choice Jam
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Number of Reviews: 2
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As the months pass and people seem to move on from the health crisis that changed the lives of millions, the early days of the pandemic seem like a distant mirage of a time. Stuck at home (some of us), away from loved ones, crushed under the uncertainty of recoveryÖ there was a lot do deal with. And this entry manages to capture a raw snippet of those early days, when there was more uncertainty about the virus and how to deal with it than known knowledge.
Set in the Pageant universe as some sort of sequel, we catch up with Karen, who obviously is not handling being cooked up at home well. From her characterisation in the previous installments, this truly feels like the correct continuation of her personality: still depressed, still a mess, still unable to communicate her feelings (or just period).
Unable to sleep, she meets up with Emily, her somewhat-girlfriend-but-maybe-not-really - Karen is always questioning labels when it comes to her relationship with others (case and point: Miri). Even with Emilyís reassurance, Karen does not shy away from falling into unhealthy choices (well, you canít affect that part of the story). Honestly, sheís a bit of a dick there.
Iíve also noticed how similar Karen and Em are, especially when Em unloaded her worries about relationships in general, the want to both be present around people and disappear without leaving a trace, or struggling with her feelings at time and what they mean. It is interestingly very similar to what is expressed from Karen throughout the text, though Em handles it probably more healthy by actually communicating all of this.
Removing player agency from the game is not new in Autumnís Games, often used to depict the characterís inability to perform a certain task, whether it be because of external forces (e.g. friend is asleep), physical health (e.g. canít hug your girlfriend during a pandemic), or mental reasons (i.e. Karen is a mess) - with those reasons often styled in a self-deprecating manner (a Karenís guarantee).
Half-way through the game, there is an interesting point made about choices. While you only have a small choice at the end, the story refers quite a bit to past actions, and how they affected others. There is a heavy sense of regret from having done some actions or failed to do those, with hindsight and time adding onto those guilty feelings. It feels soÖ real, and human, and it hurts.
This game takes place in the same universe as Pageant and New Year's Eve, 2019.
This has one of the best mechanics I've seen used in the Single Choice Jam, which requires that players can only make one choice of any important.
What this game does is have many choices in a short-but-not-inconsequential game, but almost all of the options are greyed out (something I've seen in games like Depression Quest, but not recently). So you get lots of 'choices', and can see what you could have tried, but can only make one choice. This is great at giving the illusion of choice in a positive way.
The story is messy, like a lot of real-life relationships are. You have someone you mutually confessed attraction for months ago, but covid has happened and you haven't seen each other. Now you're isolated and it's so lonely. You contact your person and...well, the rest is what the game is about.
Some strong profanity, which seemed to fit the characters and situation. Overall well-written.
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