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Into The Lion's Mouth

by Metalflower

Hypothetical Reality drama

(based on 16 ratings)
6 reviews

About the Story

The Serengeti, a 30,000 square kilometre Savannah wilderness in Tanzania, Eastern Africa. It's not your natural habitat. Your jeep, a square box with a messed up engine perched dead centre in that wilderness is not a lion's natural habitat. Luckily, you have options.

Content warning: Talk of killing, carnivores and histories of animal cruelty..as much as animal rescue, and wild love.

Game Details


71st Place - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)


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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Untamed, December 8, 2023
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2023

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review I posted to the IntFiction forums during 2023's IFComp).

An awesome thing about well-crafted video games is that they can conjure up seamless new worlds for the player to explore. An awesome thing about poorly-crafted video games is that by inadvertently breaking the illusion of mimesis, they can conjure up hallucinatory terrain that dislocates and disorients the player in a way that wind up perversely enjoyable. So it goes with Into the Lion’s Mouth, which combines a strange loop born (I assume!) of a weird bug with some odd writing choices to convey a discordant, postmodern experience where the player’s more Theseus adrift in a maze than Heracles bearding a lion.

The opening is deceptively simple: this choice-based game starts in medias res, as the protagonist suffers a vehicle break-down in the middle of the Serengeti and is immediately menaced by lions. The player is primed for a tale of survival as you need to make the right choices to escape hostile animals and unforgiving wilderness to make it back alive, but the reality is more discombobulating. For one thing, if you try to deal with the lion, your only options are to yell at it and draw attention to yourself (bad idea, duh) or to… try to hypnotize it, which the game illustrates with an inline YouTube video of a young girl “hypnotizing” various small animals like a frog and an iguana. Shockingly, this also doesn’t work, sending you back to the opening menu where you can select the remaining, incongruous option: “Lucky I prepped with the lion taming simulator.”

Clicking on that takes you to what seems to be an unrelated vignette, where you (is this the same you? In this story you apparently work as a park ranger, whereas the main-timeline you seems to be unfamiliar with the Serengeti) encounter an abandoned lion cub and nurse it back to health. There’s another odd fourth-wall breaking bit here, where you get sent to an unrelated website that lays out a DIY recipe for approximating lion’s milk that you then need to pick out of a set of choices in order to successfully feed the cub. But other than that things progress as you’d imagine: you bond with him, you help him learn to hunt, you reach the moment when you realize he belongs in the wild, and you tearfully leave him there and drive away…

At which point you’re sent back to the game’s opening yet again, I guess to hope that hypnosis will work better this time out (it doesn’t).

I have questions. For one thing, in what sense was this vignette a “simulator”? It’s framed as something that actually happened. But are we to assume it was just a Twine game that the protagonist of this other, less-successful Twine game played prior to going on safari (the lion-cub bit is far and away the best part of the game, seeming to indicate that some bit of research went into it, plus as mentioned it has a narrative arc rather than allowing time to become a flat endless circle)? If that’s the case, and you’re the kind of person who is so psychotically prone to overpreparation that before a trip to a wildlife preserve you research exactly what you should do if you happen to come across a lost lion cub and need to raise it into adulthood, shouldn’t you also know how to jump-start or a car? Or at least know not to engage with potentially dangerous animals instead of shouting “yoo-hoo, over here!” or trying, I repeat, to hypnotize them?

I had plenty of time to contemplate the answers to these queries as I confirmed that yes, everything remains the same in this second iteration, including the possibility of jumping back into the simulator again and rebooting things yet a third time. Into the Lion’s Mouth is a misnomer of a title: play this one, and you’re crawling into an endless matryoshka doll with infinite narratives nested inside each other, never resolving; I’m half tempted to play it until I’ve set free so many rehabilitated lions that they’re no longer endangered. Surely this can’t have been what the author intended, but from a quick nose at the Twine code, I can’t see a more definitive ending. And honestly I’m glad for that, since absent this bug or whatever it is the game would be a forgettable snack that doesn’t do much with a unique premise. Instead, I get this picture of the future: a man, hypnotizing a lion – forever.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
And what a mouth this lion has, October 6, 2023
by Max Fog
Related reviews: IFComp 2023

Personally, this was not one of my favourite games, but it was still interesting. The way you kept going forward and backward between states left me confused, which if it was purposeful, it was very clever. However, if it was NOT… then it was not my favourite at all. Very exclamation marks-heavy and nervous as well (which isn’t bad, just a note).

Song: Trans-Atlantic Drawl.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Short Twine game about dealing with a dangerous lion, November 22, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a short branching Twine game with links to other websites and multimedia about a lion.

I don’t have much to say about this one. It’s pretty chaotic; each branch does something really different and then returns. I found a death ending but no other ending.

Parts of it were sweet and parts of it were funny. The writing is a little weird; not in a ‘bad spelling/grammar’ kind of way necessarily, but in a logical flow kind of way. It jumps from idea to idea, kind of like listening to someone spitball ideas about a game.

It had some interesting links about lion diet and a girl hypnotizing a frog, so that was cool. Interesting game.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Here kitty, kitty..., November 13, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: ifcomp

Into The Lion's Mouth is a relatively short game about being stuck in a very unfortunate situation, in the middle of the Savannah, surrounded(-ish) by lions. Lucky for you, you know the ins-and-outs of the region, being an animal refuge guard. You won't be found dead where you stand!

Mixing humour, wildlife facts, and meta commentary, ITLM is, as it calls itself, a lion taming simulator. Though you have multiple paths on how to solve your current situation, it is clear there is only one way to reach "the ending", as the game will nudge you back towards the correct paths. You won't really ever "die".

From the tone of the writing, or the animation and formatting of the text, it is clear the game is not meant to be taken completely seriously. You learn some neat fact, sure, but with a giggle here and there. I think that worked out nicely. Though, it was at times jarring to find embedded videos or pictures that seemed to only partly related, breaking immersion completely.

Not all paths were created equal in this game. Some are quite short (as being the obvious wrong answer), and some seem a bit to run into circle (until you go back to the correct path. I found the cub rescue path to be the strongest bit of the game, as it was quite sweet (who doesn't love petting animals), but the other paths does not really do the game justice.

[Originally played on 1-Oct during the IFComp]

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Leo DGAF, January 4, 2024
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2023

Adapted from an IFCOMP23 Review

“sigh Another standard-format Twine entry, front loaded with typos,” said I on firing it up. “I know where this is going…”
“No. No you most certainly do NOT,” said the game, appropriately pointedly.

Ten minutes later, after exploring I think the entire breadth of it I just laughed and laughed at the unhinged stream-of-consciousness audacity of it. I kinda don’t want to say anything about it. Experiencing it cold, LIKE REVENGE, is the best way to experience it. Whatever you think you’re prepared for here you are NOT. It’s only ten minutes, go play it, then read the rest of this.

Right? (Spoiler - click to show)Memes, Videos, ChatGPT screenshots, lightly researched historical context, JUMPING OUT OF THE GAME ENTIRELY TO A WEBSITE ON HOW TO RAISE A LION CUB. What is this, post-modern? Post-narrative? Post-stuffy old fuddy-duddiness? In the middle of a full month binge of exactingly crafted, tightly engineered IFCOMP entries, what a delight this manic garbage pile was.

To do a deep explication, withering analysis, or self-important metaphorical model all miss the point of its anarchic, throw it all out, ‘can’t be bothered to see if it sticks, got more throwing to do’ vibe. I do wonder, and by wondering kind of know the answer, whether it plays this successfully in isolation, or whether the CONTEXT of methodical IFCOMP play is crucial to its success. Not a lick on it at all, just wondering. Even without that context, it is hard to imagine begrudging its extremely tight playtime.

I’m going to stand on what I’ve said so far, and finish my review in a precisely assembled, thematically appropriate series of links:

Initial Review Insights
Subsequent Deeper Analysis
Overall Thematic Synthesis
Critical Conclusion and Summary

Played: 10/31/23
Playtime: 12min, fully explored?
Artistic/Technical ratings: Like a sparkler, once lit, constant Sparks of Joy. Seamless implementation of its shaggy UI and presentation.
Would Play After Comp?: No, best appreciated for its singularity, in the moment.

Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless

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This is version 3 of this page, edited by JTN on 4 October 2023 at 11:38am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page