To Beseech Old Sins

by Nic June

Part of Mourner's Kaddish for Golems

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Teenage Horny Space Marine... Somethings, May 10, 2024
by JJ McC
Related reviews: Spring Thing 24

Adapted from a SpringThing24 Review

Played: 4/4/24
Playtime: 30 min

Up front, the game told me this was part of an ongoing series to which I had no prior exposure. These disclaimers immediately prompt the question, ‘Am I too background disadvantaged to appreciate this?’ My success rate with these kinds of things is pretty high - Series like Little Match Girl and Lady Thalia notably ease new players in without friction and quickly get us in the swim.

Beseech didn’t quite achieve those heights. Interestingly though, for a while, it used that opacity to its advantage, creating an interesting frisson between a world that of course knew who our Power Throuple was, and me who was desperately trying to catch up. If I’m honest though, that frisson was kind of an artificial boost. There were some narrative choices and gameplay choices that didn’t play for me, and absent that ‘gotta figure out what’s going on here!’ charge, would have tired of it much sooner than I did.

The first narrative sin, for me, was the Power Throuple themselves. Cast as uber-Space-Marines who were so valuable that military structure bent over backwards to accommodate their flagrant insubordination. You know what that kind of double standard does to unit discipline? No, the work does not know. And worse, the Throuple were so, so, so smug about it. About the only time I can tolerate this kind of archetype is either when they subvert their competence somehow, or when we fast forward into outlandish pulp adventure. Beseech did neither.

The second narrative sin, though perhaps specific to new readers, was that their identity was revealed so offhandedly, so late in the story, that it was very much a ‘burying the lead’ moment. They are (Spoiler - click to show)Horny Space Demons! Maybe I could have learned that a lot earlier, certainly before they go on a mission? The reveal was so vastly underplayed as to effectively be anti-climax.

The last narrative sin was lack of interesting conflict. They were presented at the jump as final-resort weapons of irresistible effectiveness. They were employed as such. Sure enough, they lived up to that reputation. There were no reversals, no intricate plans, not even any portrayal of HOW irresistible they were. Hell, there wasn’t even any conflict - (Spoiler - click to show)the antagonist surrendered without protest, and in fact went out of his way to say how awesome they were. Uncharitably, the arc of the piece was ‘We are awesome. The enemy agrees. Now reward us!’

Now, as part of an ongoing series of games, maybe this isn’t so terrible? Maybe this is just a low-stakes interlude (as suggested by introduction) between high stakes adventures. It’s not unreasonable to see it that way. For me though, as a standalone story without background literacy, it did not work.

The narrative was not my only friction with this piece. The Twine link-select UI also chafed at me. Visually, it was attractive. A futuristic font with unique highlighting on choice links. The problem was, there were two types of links. The first was an aside - some comment on things going on. These were actually the best part of the piece. The wry aside observations from the protagonist were funny in their often blatant horniness. The second kind of link was the ‘proceed with story’ link. I did not detect any links of the ‘affect the narrative’ variety. The problem was that the words chosen as links gave no clue which type they were- not in phrasing or position. An example (choices bolded):

"There was no hail of gunfire, no clouds of smoke and war. Instead we were greeted with something shocking. Something none of us thought we would ever see in our life times."

You might expect from that construct that the first link would provide some additional detail, while the second would naturally push the scene forward. No, it was the opposite. The work did this ALL THE TIME. This example is somewhat atypical anyway, in that more often, the highlighted words seemed arbitrary. Like if they were ‘There was no’ and ‘thought we would’ in the above sentence. Even worse, many times there were multiple paragraphs, where the natural thing to do would be select links as you read them, except the first link might move the story forward and expect you to have read the whole page! Independent of any narrative quibbles, this link confusion drove me to distraction.

Between the character, plot and UI choices, this was not for me. I could certainly see this playing better in context of a larger series, and hope longtime fans appreciate this more.

Mystery, Inc: Daphne
Vibe: Horny Space Demons
Polish: Textured
Gimme the Wheel! : If this were my project, the UI is where I would put my energy. It is a linear novel of sorts. I would give a lot more thought to the link architecture and its impact on how the piece is read. I would especially make sure those nifty asides are consumed in a natural way.

Polish scale: Gleaming, Smooth, Textured, Rough, Distressed
Gimme the Wheel: What I would do next, if it were my project.

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