Starlight Shadows

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Number of Reviews: 3
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
By our powers combined!, November 21, 2022
by Draconis
Related reviews: Ectocomp 2022

A much more lighthearted choice-based game. You’re Lyra, you’re hosting a high school party, an Entity is going to attack in two hours, and if you want to stand a chance against it you need allies. Already I’m delighted by the premise. (To probably no-one’s surprise, this is one of my favorite genres of Halloween spooky.)

The plot is relatively straightforward. Talk to your friends at the party. Convince as many of them as possible to help you. Then fight the entity when it shows up. The first part is a mix of classic choice-based dialogue (choose what you say) and “world-establishing choices”; I’m sure there’s a better word for this, but the choices that define facts about the world rather than your character’s actions, like collaborative worldbuilding in a tabletop game (or the first chapter of a Choice of Games work). You talk to your brother, and the first choice is how positive or negative your relationship currently is—and while having it be negative is probably a bad tactical decision, it seemed like the more interesting story, so I had to take that one. In other words, the start was exciting enough that I was more interested in adding drama to the story than winning the fight, which is a commendation.

Then you fight the entity in a little turn-based system. You can tell your allies to attack or defend in various ways as you try to hurt the entity and it tries to hurt you. This was the weakest part of the game, and I couldn’t really tell what was working and what wasn’t—defensive actions got no response at all, while the aggressive ones mostly seemed to all do the same thing, so I just rotated through me and my allies attacking and stopped worrying about our own health.

While the combat itself was a bit of a letdown (and, to be fair, implementing an engaging tactical combat system in a Petite Mort game is an enormous task), I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the details of this world and my character’s past, driving the dialogue in directions that would lead to flashback scenes. Reminisce with my (ex?) boyfriend and the flashback to our first date establishes that (Spoiler - click to show)nobody in this world has ever seen the stars; let my friend talk about the book series she’s obsessed with and she mentions in passing that (Spoiler - click to show)writings from the old world were preserved through DNA storage. A Petite Mort game is really the perfect medium for hinting at a world without explaining any of it, and I’m now replaying to see how many other tidbits I can uncover.

This is my favorite one so far, and I’m very curious if the author intends to write (or has written?) anything else in this setting, or wants to leave it a mystery for the ages.