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About the Story
You are warm and safe inside your host, happily gathering data for Mother.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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(Confusingly, the title of this game is given as Knife and Tendril in the game proper. I will refer to it as A Gift for Mother for the sake of clarity.)
EDIT: When I first played this game, I had not heard of Texture and assumed that it was made in a Twine mod, thence the references to Twine in the review below. I apologise for any confusion caused by this.
The first thing that stands out about A Gift for Mother is the interaction interface. Instead of performing actions by clicking hotlinked words, the player is given one or more buttons, which can be clicked-and-dragged. They then need to be placed on the relevant word, which is highlighted when you move the button.
This is a trick I've never seen in a Twine game before, and it is slick and attention-catching. I have no idea how much coding went into it. However, once the novelty wore off, I felt that more could have been done with it. The effect doesn't measurably differ from the regular Twine mechanism of clicking links: there are only 1-3 options on screen at any time, and since each only works on one specific word, there's no dimension of challenge. It would have been interesting if several nouns became highlighted and the player had to choose between them. Of course, I don't know whether that would have been feasible.
When you place the button over the highlighted word, the word then shows up on the button: again, an extremely neat effect. However, in several cases the grammar of the button-word and the target-word doesn't mesh: for example, early on, you have a button saying "listen", you have to place it over "reading" (as in the noun), getting "listen reading".
As for the story itself, it is body horror from the point of view of an alien parasite, gathering data from its human host for an unseen "Mother". I realise this genre isn't everyone's bag: me, I don't mind it. There is no exaggerated focus on grossing the reader out (the story being from the parasite's POV probably has something to do with it). The writing is very good, though I caught one or two typoes. You have to make some strategic decisions about whether to proceed or quit while you're ahead, getting different endings as a result.
The visuals are black text on white, without graphical flashiness. They feel... a bit too clinical, given the content. At least they are clear and easy on the eyes.
All in all, I found it engaging and well-written, but it still left me feeling a bit dissatisfied. (Spoiler - click to show)From the intro text, I expected more of a storyline, or at least some sort of revelation about the goals of the PC and their Mother. However, the game invariably ended with the PC's death, just when I would have liked it to spin off into a wider story. I realise this is the story the author wanted to write; I can't fault her for not writing something else. But it still came off as more of a morsel than a full meal.
Still, if you're interested in a short, well-written piece of SF/horror, it may well be the morsel for you.
This was made in the newly released platform Texture, created by Juhana Leinonen and Jim Munroe. This system enables players to drag and drop verbs, creating hypertext games which are uniquely suited for mobile devices. The system is still in alpha/beta, having been released late last year, but is available for tinkering (http://texturewriter.com/alpha/) (caution: the site stores stories within your browser's local memory - there doesn't yet seem to be a way to download the story format, only the resulting HTML.)
Here, Zed uses the different verbs as a means for creating story branches. You are a commissary of Mother, gathering data from within your host. You can sense your host's vital signs, but, likewise, your every movement is detectible to your host. The more data you collect, the more you risk detection... and expulsion.
A Gift for Mother uses an elegant dichotomy to create branching, though I felt it didn't quite bring out the full possibilities of Texture. It would have been great if the same verb could have applied to multiple objects, but as it stands, A Gift for Mother is a striking story written from a parasite's point of view.