Haiku

by Flaminia Grimaldi

Fantasy
2018

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Try your hand at writing some haiku, January 23, 2023
by Kinetic Mouse Car
Related reviews: Twine, Twiny Jam

Haiku was submitted to the Twiny Jam (hosted by Porpentine, yay!) where the rules were simply to make short Twine game with no more than 300 words. This was partly to make the idea of submitting a game to a jam/event less daunting since it can be easy to talk oneself out of participating, you know, just in case everyone submits a longer and better game than your own creation. I'm part joking, but there is truth to it. Submitting a game to anything can be a big unknown. Narrowing down the word limit to 300 reigns in the expectations of scale while also encouraging innovative cleverness though a word limit.

The game's title borrows from a traditional Japanese poetic structure known as a haiku. These are short three lined poems with specific rules on how many syllables can be in each line. Haiku lets you compose a poem by clicking on each line of a haiku provided at the start of the game. I believe the terms a replace macro. Its a common sight in Twine games. Each line has about five choices to choose from. You swap each line out with another until you are satisfied with your creation. Here is mine:

A pond full of carps
Tells a story to the child
Lies among the grass

The game then ends on a peaceful, reflective note.

I must say, Haiku is rather minimalist, even for the game jam. From a gameplay standpoint the haiku creation process is not particularly advanced. Clicking on a bunch of links several times is not necessarily going to be a hit with players, but offsetting this through other characteristics that engage the player transforms the gameplay experience.

In this case, Id say that the writing would be the characteristic that keeps the game afloat, and I think it mostly succeeds with this. The first haiku line had some cool options, but the options for lines two and three were not quite as potent. It did not quite feel as satisfying as I expected but I still enjoyed it.

The author plays with some simple but appealing visuals for ambience. The background is off-white colour with green text. The bottom of the screen has simple artwork of riverbank surrounded by grass and cattails. The artwork uses basic brush strokes and is merely meant to be a vague impression.

Haiku captures the idea of less is more, which only enhances the minimal yet potency of haiku poetry. Simple and subtle things can work together to make a finished work more complex than its individual components. Now, I am giving this game three stars instead of four because its premise could have been a little more evolved with how the player interacts with the poetry. That said, it still captures a strong sense of serenity through its haiku concept and visual design that makes it enjoyable to play.

If you are shopping around for anything to do with poetry in interactive fiction, I recommend Haiku.