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About the StoryAll you have to do is make it inside and fire thrusters to adjust the derelict's course.
Content warning: This game contains written depictions of disturbing material, including gore and suicide.
Nominee, Best Use of Multimedia - 2017 XYZZY Awards
1st Place, Le Grand Guignol (English) - EctoComp 2017
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Number of Reviews: 2
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But I finally got time to sit down and relax with this and treat it as an almost cinematic experience, and I was not disappointed.
At first, I thought I was looking at a fancy background movie, but I think the game text plays over a live rendered 3D environment and that's why you download a thing. I could be wrong, but if so I was fooled expertly. I watched the sparks and they never seemed to repeat, bouncing off the floor and drifting in antigravity.
The sound design is oppressive at first and it took me several tries to get along with it. The text and choices are displayed with different metallic banging sounds that pace the work and create a background texture along with the smoky popping of that aforementioned wire. And other sounds.
The story (Spoiler - click to show)combines the loneliness of vast space with existential dread and oppressive hopelessness of inhabiting an environment you aren't built to survive long in. Then there are rats. I'm not really afraid of rats. I've never had a bad experience with them. There are no actual pictures of rats in the game (and, respectfully, no jumpscares).
But you will remember the rats.
This is a quiet, nonlinear, brooding horror with a diegetic, musique-concrete background score that builds and works its way into your psyche along with the words. And other things.
At first, I was critiquing as a designer and thought, "Why did I need to download a thing to look at one room?" By the end, I was convinced. Meticulously and thoroughly designed with words and multimedia, this is what Bruno Dias excels at. It even earns the Dutch angle.
That's why it's surprising to see an experience IF author (with access to this information) make a download-only game with slowly-spooled out white text on a light background photo/animation. I had to increase the font size significantly to see the game. I also had to look away for something on the last screen, and the text faded away before I was sure what it said.
Despite that, I enjoyed the game. It has strong parallels to one of my favorite short stories, The Judge's House, as well as System Shock (which I've only experience filtered through Cyberqueen).
The game manages to develop a great deal of backstory without slowing down the game too much. The ending is strongly foreshadowed, but this only helps to build tension.
The non-linear presentation combined with image changes gave the game some more interactivity as it requires you to puzzle out how it all fits together.
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"War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children." - Jimmy Carter
Recommended ListsThe Rats in the Bulkheads appears in the following Recommended Lists:
Ectocomp Games (All English Winners/Entries) by thecanvasrose
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For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Games of 2017 by MathBrush
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This is version 1 of this page, edited by CMG on 3 November 2017 at 10:42pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item