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About the Story
Guide your sister through a game of visualization, adventure, and danger, and perhaps discover truths about each other along the way.
Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: April 4, 2023
Current Version: 2
Development System: Inform 7
Forgiveness Rating: Cruel
Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2023
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Number of Reviews: 4
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(This review is based on the Spring Thing 2023 version.)
But… but… I only wanted to play a game. A childish little spooky sleepover game… And now… She’s just…
This game starts out innocently enough. The youngest of the girls must take a tour through her own subconscious, aided and guided by her big sister’s voice. Soon enough, things take a turn into creepy territory.
The map of this game is splendid. It enhances the hypnotised-disoriented feeling of the little sister wandering through her own dream-world by looping back on itself in unexpected passages. Some locations are obviously dream or nightmare stuff, while others seem like minimalist doubles of familiar rooms. I don’t know which is spookier…
The hypnosis-game setup invites the player to enter in a sometimes confusing web of player-PC-agent-narrator relations. The different girls’ voices add to the confusion as each responds in their own way to the traumas that gradually come forward out of the shadows of the dream-world.
There are a few gaps in the implementation, mostly a synonym unrecognised or a reasonable but unnecessary command not understood. Nothing too worrying or distracting.
Very moody, in places actively scary. There are happier endings to be found, but the one I got feels just right (in a horror-story wrong way…)
Four girls are playing a kind of Bloody Mary-style psychological/supernatural game, in which one of them enters another world: just how real is this going to get?
A very interesting innovation is that it is not the ‘you’ character who actually performs the action. You are Emily, and you put your sister Claire ‘under’; she tells you what she is seeing and interacting with in this other world, and you tell her what to do, although Claire doesn't always go willingly with your suggestions. Meanwhile, your two friends occasionally chip in with their thoughts, or laugh at something on their phones. I found the frame setting and narration completely believable, fresh, and appealing, and loved the kind of split viewpoint. It even has a cat in it.
The map is pretty large for a short game, and most locations are not described in the thorough, languid detail that I tend to value in parser games. But that’s absolutely right for this game: Claire is feeding back descriptions to her friends, and is more interested in the basic details - where she can go, what she can pick up - than in giving emotional descriptions of places. But this game can go from innocent fun to real horror very unexpectedly.
This is described as a short game in the competition listings, but I’d say it’s medium length at least, and possibly longer.
It starts as a visualisation game among four young girls, where one sister guides another sister through a stream of consciousness exploration of a strange imaginary world. It turns into something much stranger and darker.
The implementation of the parser game world is light at best, a series of well spread out rooms, with scattered objects. Initially it does feel as though it’s insubstantial, a meditative experience that you could just step out of. But then things take a turn.
I think there are several endings. I got a bad one. And played through trying to get to a better one. I had a clue I think re the (Spoiler - click to show)meat and horsefly and the tower but I couldn’t find the solution to (Spoiler - click to show)picking up the meat. Even though I had a plastic bag, that I think I should have been able to use.
The game has no hints or walkthrough. This was a problem for me. I play for fun, and although there’s a marvellous old tradition of hard parser games, nowadays people tend to like to have the option of clues to fall back on if necessary. Some of us very much so. I would ask any parser game competition entrant to consider including a walkthrough at least, if not a full blown hints system. Because for me banging my head against a puzzle isn’t fun any more, even if it’s something I was willing to do in the 1980s.
However, that said, this is a highly intriguing work. I loved the commentary and chat between the girls early on. And some of the spooky stuff is so effective. Just leave some clues for players.
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