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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: 8
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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.
Glimmer is about a person spiraling in helplessness, having a hard time to function around the bleakness of their situation. It is also about hope, and the importance of having caring people around.
The game is simplistic in both style and visual. A few lines of text, one choice, maybe some extra interactive links to add description. It is straight to the point. The world is bleak, so you turn your back to it. You face some hardship, so you avoid them. Little by little, you close yourself to everything around you. But, at your lowest point, a hand reaches out to you to pull you out of your funk (forcibly if you resist), reminding you that there are still good things out there to enjoy.
I thought the game started out strong, with tackling themes of drifting and avoidance turning into depression and isolation (though it felt at time a tad too surface-level in its representation), when faced with a bleak world and difficulties in your life. The whole losing your joie de vivre and vicious cycle of negativity.
However, I found the whole second act... dissonant almost? In your darkest moment, an unnamed friend* barges (back?) into your life, gives you a cup of tea and a biscuit, and like that, you snap out of it, awkwardly and timidly claiming you tried to get better all this time. When the first part of the game implied quite some time had passed between the first event of the spiral and current time, it feels like a whiplash to have a "recovery" happening so suddenly. This feeling was aggravated when choosing to resist the friend's pleas does little to change the outcome. As if by magic, you get better by the last page. After just a cup of tea.
*I really didn't like that you would not even acknowledge their personhood, I think that's also a reason why it felt weird.
I still haven't made my mind about the (lack of) choices and what it means for the player agency. I've come to appreciate more the kinetic approach of storytelling in IF, and considering how debilitating depression can be, making you think you do not have a choice, it is thematically in line with the story. However, the few available choices lack in consequence or are essentially disregarded by the story, which makes the little agency the player has essentially useless. It felt a bit frustrating and unsatisfying.
I did appreciate the message the game was trying to convey, but I don't think the game quite manage to get the point across.
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In this small relaxing slice-of-life game, it's the last day of summer and a few hours before sunset. You have just found an abandoned amusement park in a nearby forest and you've decided to explore it.