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About the Story
A Petite Mort entry for ECTOCOMP 2016.
3rd Place, La Petite Mort - EctoComp 2016
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Number of Reviews: 2
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B-minus makes surreal poetic games where you have to puzzle out the meaning, if there is any fixed meaning.
Some of those games work really well for me and others not as well.
This one from a few years ago has a navigable 'map'. It's made in raconteur, and gives an effect similar to Twine.
The map is a house with three wings, each with two rooms, each with an object inside.
If there's any way to combine the objects, I haven't found it. The hint of a coherent structure paired with incoherent elements confused me more than if there weren't any structure at all, kind of like the famous 'Cow Tools' Far Side cartoon.
+Polish: Worked great, looks good.
+Descriptive: Very well-written.
-Interactivity: Not sure what's going on.
+Emotional impact: Some good parts in here, I liked the grave dirt and the opening.
-Would I play again? I'm not sure what to look for here.
Howled House is a short piece made in Raconteur where you play as the titular house. Three imprisoned ďhowlersĒ howl during the night as they sleep, and a house with three wings is ďraisedĒ by their howling. Each wing has its own personality, and when an explorer enters, the wings attempt in their own ways to either repulse his advances or seduce him toward his doom. What does this explorer want? To scour the house, to take something from it, to understand what canít be understood about its secret rooms (some open with links; others never open)? The house itself doesnít quite know. The explorer is not repulsed, is not seduced, but is nevertheless trapped because, once heís entered the house, he canít leave.
Howled House itself is also the house it describes, and the player is the explorer. Its words invite you inside and yet they push you back. What do you hope to achieve by playing? What right do you even have to poke around inside this house whose very walls have risen from anguished howls? Itís a question that extends to any art, but especially to art thatís born from pain. That description makes it sound deadly serious, which isnít right. Itís lively and alive ó but it is potentially deadly. ďThe blade-box, what fun!Ē says the clowning third hall.
As I write these words, I feel I must tread with caution. At this very moment, Iím walking into the houseís trap, and it wants me or it doesnít want me or it wants both things. Maybe Iím a guest or maybe Iím a plaything. Maybe I have no business being here. No, I think Iím welcome. After all, the gameís been written for people to experience. But itís difficult to know where I stand, just as itís difficult for the house and the author to know what readers want, what their agendas are. And not just this house, not just this author, not just this reader: itís difficult for anyone to feel their way forward through communication with another person.
Of course this reading might be wrong. Maybe Iím lost in the house. Maybe I took something from it that it never had or never wanted me to have. Thatís a danger. All I can do is acknowledge the danger. Itís a dangerous game, but also a game I consider worth risking the danger to play. I wouldn't be surprised if, a few months from now, I understand it in a different way.
The language is phenomenal. I may be unsure about a few things here, but thereís no question in my mind that Howled House ought to be nominated at the XYZZY Awards for Best Writing.
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Recommended ListsHowled House appears in the following Recommended Lists:
Ectocomp Games (All English Winners/Entries) by thecanvasrose
A list I created for myself so I can play all of these games. Sorted by rank and year. English entries. I'll add descriptions and my own ratings (out of 5 stars) to the entries in this list as I go through them.
PollsThe following polls include votes for Howled House:
For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Writing of 2016 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2016 which you think might be worth considering for Best Writing in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here...
For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Settings of 2016 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2016 which you think might be worth considering for Best setting in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here...
This is version 2 of this page, edited by B Minus Seven on 31 October 2016 at 8:42pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item