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About the Story
You look in to a mirror. Your reflection does not look back.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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That Sinister Self is a short horror Twine that dramatizes the ways our own minds and self-critical impulses can turn against us. It focuses particularly on the kinds of body-shaming thoughts and social concerns that are common among high school girls, but it's presenting a kind of distorted thinking that can affect other groups too.
It does this with a neat trick of typography: the main text appears right-side up, but underneath is a reflection layer, upside down mirror text that sometimes reads differently, indicating the alternative perspectives of the second, mirror self. As time passes, the mirror text differs more often, more aggressively, demonstrating the warping of the inner monologue. The mirror text makes fun of the protagonist, emphasizes her flaws, rejoices in her mistakes and embarrassments. There's no way to interact with this text, to erase or refute it; we can only take actions in the real world and hope for the best.
There are several endings; I reached only one ((Spoiler - click to show)The Contagion Ending), but it felt sufficiently fitting that I didn't really want to try for others, so left it there.
Speaking purely personally (and this is why I haven't assigned a rating), the emotional impact wasn't as powerful for me as that of some other pieces that delve into inner monologue. (Cis Gaze comes to mind here.) I think this was because the protagonist didn't seem to me quite as uniquely imagined and individual, but more like a representation of a general type of problem, and those usually don't work quite as well for me.
Your mileage may vary, however -- and there was plenty of formally interesting content to make this well worth playing.
You're a girl on her first day of high school, but you've got a problem greater than friends or horrible teachers on your hands: your reflection in the mirror is threatening mutiny.
The first thing that strikes me is that it's a very aesthetically pleasing game. Visual elements are used to great effect. The evil mirror-self is shown in the reflected text which changes, not very subtly, to insert negative thoughts about a situation; the text changes when you click through links to reflect what is presumably the PC's insecurity and anxiety about her new situation. There’s a whole lot of clicking through, though, not all of which I thought was strictly necessary.
The content - family life, high-school social minefields - is very much the stuff of many teen fiction novels, and what should have made it impactful would be the presentation of the evil mirror-self, but the goal of the game was probably nothing overtly spooky. Rather, it was more about the internal emotional conflict of the PC.
So far I've found two endings, (Spoiler - click to show)the triumphant and doppelganger one. I found the confrontation well-written and personally it struck a chord with me, though there was little to build up to this. The endgame could have been much stronger if the PC had been less generic. If we understood a bit more about her fears and personality, then it might have made the triumph feel more like one. That said, I enjoyed the sly ending (though really nothing surprising to one who reads horror fiction so often).
That sinister self is a great, linear, short-to-mid length twine game dealing with body image. Like Astrid's other stories, I found my heart racing a bit.
There are multiple endings and some mild language.
The game incorporates some special effects which lend it much of its appeal.
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