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About the Story
This one's for the kids, no really!
This game probably recreates my childhood experiences of reading CYOA books more than any other.
The chooseyourstory format is adapted more to CYOA books. Most Twine and Choicescript games have shorter text and more frequent choices that frequently meet back up later because it allows you to reuse a lot of text and code. Making a game where every branch goes somewhere different is usually too tedious to code, although some people have done it (like the game Animalia or Porpentine's Myriad).
But a lot of chooseyourstory games seem to get over the problem of needing to write a lot of text by just writing a lot of text, ending up with games with hundreds of thousands of words.
This game is meant for kids, I'd say between 10 and 13 or 14. You are sucked into a fantasy world where you meet strange wizards and adventurers.
There are few choices in this game but a ton of text in each one, and each choice branches a lot. Some are dead ends, but the engine lets you go back and retrace your steps quickly, which the game seems to encourage. This makes the small number of choices make sense, since each replay goes quickly, like paging through an old CYOA book.
I enjoyed it overall, and it gave me some ideas for my own writing.
General Recommendation: I recommend this game, particularly for those looking for a nostalgic reminder of the kind of fantasy books you read when you were younger.
Preview: After being transported to a fantasy world by the evil Nightmare Tyrant, can you use your budding powers of imagination to make it safely home?
Too many authors of children’s stories think they can get away with one dimensional characters and little humor or dialogue of interest. EndMaster does not fall into this pitfall, making each side character their own distinct person, and making the writing enjoyable for kids and adults alike.
In many ways this story seems like it’s aimed less at children, and more at teens and adults recalling a specific aspect of their childhood. Certainly it works as a children’s story, but the work’s tone and elements heavily recall a specific genre of children’s fantasy books that older readers will be more likely to recognize than younger ones.
Many books of this genre focus on an imaginative protagonist pulled into a fantasy world, who uses their unique skills and traits to succeed and return home. In this story, the narrator’s powers of imagination are explicitly supernatural, providing both a driving force for the plot, and tying into the main theme of the power of imagination. The story does a good job with this theme. It uses it as a driving force for the plot rather than hitting the reader over the head with it, and the narrator’s deus ex machina abilities are allowed to cause as many problems as they solve. What’s more, as with many of the elements in this genre, the imagination-powered abilities act as a metaphor for the protagonist’s life in the real world, with the protagonist and nightmare tyrnt each respectively representing the positive and negative side of imagination.
-The opening paragraph firmly establishes the main character as a child, particularly, the kind of kid who likes to make up stories. The scenario used to show this is one that’s probably relatable to a lot of readers, and has a humorous and familiar tone.
-The bad guys in this game are comically evil, complete with evil laughs and one-liners. In a more serious work they might be out of place, but here they fit well with the whimsical tone of the stories this work is trying to capture.
-The imagery in this story is particularly good, it’s an important aspect of the genre.
-Many children’s stories seem to have difficulty writing adults interacting with children. This one handles it well, however, all the characters react logically. The “wizard” sees potential cheap labor, and Lyssia and the Captain are balancing protecting the narrator from the Nightmare Tyrant with other priorities.
-The worldbuilding that exists here (such as the description of Null) seems neither barebones nor overwhelming. It’s presented in a neat way that intrigues without distracting.
-Many of the characters here are traditional fantasy archetypes. We have the wizard/charlatan, the captain, the adventurer, the talking animal. It would be easy for this method of cast-building to act as a shortcut for real development, but all of these characters are well-rounded, even those with only brief roles. The use of archetypical characters also contributes to the traditional and nostalgic feel of the story, by including many figures that frequent fantasy readers will recognize from childhood novels.
-The Null is a cool concept for a setting.
-Johnny’s presence illustrates well the consequences of capture by the nightmare tyrant. He also represents a metaphoric more realistic threat, the threat of parental neglect and apathy.
-“Was it a dream?” endings are usually groan-inducing, but as it’s a staple of the genre that inspired this work, it would be practically negligent not to include it.
-I like that the protagonist can defeat the shadows in a variety of different ways, depending on the path.
-I also like the inclusion of many common fantasy elements, such as talking animals, little people, and ghosts. Though for the most part these elements are not essential to the plot, they really make the setting feel like a traditional “fantasy” fantasy world, perfectly capturing the genre.
-The protagonists’s powers mirror the antagonist’s, which is always a nice narrative touch.
-Little scenes, like the conversations between Salzat and Lakri, are what really flesh this story’s world out.
-Once again, the worldbuilding that’s done in this story fits its scope very well. Qualan’s description of his homeland iis yet another frequent fantastic archetype.
-The idea of a halfling pretending to be a dwarf is amusing.
-It’s nice to see more of Melcaar in the second path, and to see him being legitimately helpful rather than merely taking advantage of an opportunity to get his garden cleaned.
-“Creativeness” should be “creativity”.
-There are some dialogue punctuation issues.
Mastery of Language
This story could’ve used another round of proofreading to tidy up the sentence structure issues. It doesn’t distract, though.
Quite good, particularly on the branch where you try to scare away the purple people. There are multiple victory endings that can be achieved, and the player has control over the direction the story goes in. The Melcar branch is a bit more linear, but this makes sense in context.
Player Options/fair choice:
Overall quite good. The consequences of actions are fair and foreshadowed, which is particularly important for a story with a younger audience.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I got the ending where you make it home with the Adventurer’s help.
CONCLUSION: EndMaster has proved with this work that he’s capable of producing high-quality writing for any number of different authorial styles. A fun read.
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