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About the Story
It's bleak out there. No one would blame you for turning away.
53rd Place - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)
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Number of Reviews: 5
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This story, hard to call it a game since as far as I could tell the game had no real choices, is about a person (you, the PC) going through a very rough patch in life. Thankfully, you have a good friend who isn't willing to give up on you.
The first half of the story was unrelentingly bleak and I was worried that was going to be it, but the friend character is introduced to save the day (and the story). I can see how this could be a good portrayal of what creeping sadness turned into full blown depression might look like. In the end there just wasn't enough substance there for it to really grab me.
Between the lack of choices and at least one mistake I found in the text I had to give it two stars.
This is an earnest, vulnerable game with a powerful message. The game proceeds as the player progresses through a series of quietly despairing and distressing episodes -- passing by boarded up shops, realizing that a coworker is living at the office, being beset with bills. The player struggles to keep up a positive outlook on life until (Spoiler - click to show)a friend visits them and helps them to enter back into the world.
This is a kernel of what could be a very affecting game, though I had a few issues that kept me from fully engaging. Primary among these, even for a relatively short game, the structure got to feeling repetitive: most pages have a few sentences of text with a linked word that expands the text with some observation and then a link at the end of the passage that moves to the next passage. This effect works for the first few passages, creating a sense of inundation with the distressing events encountered, but the structure doesn't change much as the narrative turns. Even a slight change in the structure would signal a shift in the player's perspective.
While there are some interesting bits of writing throughout the game -- for instance, the observation that floors of the player's apartment are so weathered that 'a sparrow landing on the floors would likely make them creak' -- a lot of the language is generic and ungrounded. I never get a sense of any of the characters' personality, voice, or perspective beyond the broadest strokes.
I very much enjoyed the game and appreciate the message greatly, but was left wanting more.
I've seen the author's works before and always meant to get around to the stuff of hers I hadn't looked at. I'd like to see more of them, and I have to admit I'd also like to see more of this. It's a positive but short game about feeling socially trapped, which unfortunately has been a pretty big thing since 2020. But it's tough: too much positivity feels forced, and too little feels like it glosses over serious issues. And there's a third rail when trying to express getting stuck without getting the player stuck. That sweet spot is tough to find.
Your choices don't matter much. That's the way things are sometimes. Some days, no matter someone's good will, you don't want to put up with them, and others, no matter how nasty they are, you're willing to put up with it. A friend will still drop by and help you bounce back from social isolation, and it sort of feels like they might be forcing themselves on you, though you-the-character and you-the-player know it isn't enough and want to do more and know you need to do more. So Glimmer knows not to force itself on you. But I also think that we need things forced on us sometimes, but we just don't know how or why. And looking back we wish certain people we liked had forced more on us (and, of course, certain people had forced less on us. But Glimmer is not about that, thankfully.)
While I'd have liked to see things more fleshed out (the character's first try going out. I know for instance just going to the grocery store or athletic club once the COVID lockdowns was over were both big) I realized that, well, I'd had people bring me back to a forum (like here) with just a like on a comment, and I hoped I'd been able to do that in some way for others. So I think and hope I got what the author intended. I was able to look back without having to relive the fear.
I also saw a parallel between Glimmer's main character and reviewing IFComp. Getting into the swing of things, or back into it, is tricky, and you have to start small, sometimes, whether it's with your own writing or reviewing others'. I reviewed Glimmer early on, and it was welcoming, though I just wish it would've led somewhere bigger--perhaps there's a message here that after someone checks on you, you need to go find more stuff for yourself that you might like, and perhaps that might mean the author's other works.
|New Year's Eve, 2019, by Autumn Chen|
Average member rating: (12 ratings)
Social gatherings are not your preferred activity. But this one is obligatory, and it threatens to ruin you. You are Karen Zhao, a senior in college who is home for winter break, and seeing your old high school friends for the first time...
|Closure, by Sarah Willson|
Average member rating: (21 ratings)
Kira hasn't been the same since the breakup. Now she's done something really reckless, and she's asking for your help to figure out what went wrong with TJ. What else can you say? She's your best friend.
|Sting, by Mike Russo|
Average member rating: (16 ratings)
Six bees. Five bags of groceries. A four-pound dumbbell. Three sailboats. One twin. Sting is a puzzleless parser memoir about ordinary days and unexpected interruptions.