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About the Story
A trio of college students visit Scotland and get sucked into a war between vampires.
22nd Place - 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2013)
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Tia Orisney is one of my favorite Twine authors, but I was disappointed in this game. It is a huge vampire fan fiction, of the Buffy type more than the Twilight type.
The format is a page-long chunk of text followed by one or two choices. I wasn't sure how much the story branched, but part of it at least seemed gauntlet style.
The writing is earnest but with several typos. There is frequent profanity. The story is generally interesting, but gets cluttered up in details.
Overall, there was just too much text all at once. I recommend this author's Following Me and Who Among Us instead.
(This is an edited version of a review I originally wrote for my 2013 IFComp blog.)
Blood on the Heather (BOTH) is a wack-seeking CYOA adventure about three young Americans who take a vacation in Scotland and get mixed up with petulant feuding vampires and their scenery-destroying vampiric offspring. The author says it was inspired by the vampire B-movies of their youth. For me, this raised disturbing questions about how old the author might be… Twelve?! Facetiousness aside, the game's combination of bloodsuckers who act like the rabid zombies of the cinema of the 2000s, Underworldish vampire clans and a splat of Twilighty romanticism pointed to pretty recent stuff. And after I'd done all that thought, someone who watched the TV show Buffy the Vampier Slayer told me with great confidence that that was probably the primary influence.
BOTH gives off a strongly goofy vibe through its predilection for one-liner gags and funny/cool character behaviour, but it's also a work of quite driven prose. It was probably the biggest CYOA game I'd ever played when I first encountered it, and also the one with the longest passages between each moment of player choice. I was curious about what a text game which was confident enough to use this much unbroken prose would be like. As I'd expected and hoped, it was able to build up a lot of momentum. I also felt that it was capable of instilling each choice with more context, potentially making the whole thing more character-centric.
While I'm grateful to BOTH for demonstrating all of this to me in a big, real world case, I did find it an effort to get through a lot of it because I just wasn't interested in the petulant vampires or their moderately complicated mythology. In this respect, the game definitely reminds me of my experience with most of Hollywood's recent films about supernatural clans.
If the writing and characterisation of BOTH were both excellent, that would obviously do a lot for player interest. The trouble with the former is that it's erratic. I wouldn't underestimate the feat of achieving consistent propulsion of a story this big, which BOTH's writing pulls off comfortably, but it is the length of the thing which also throws the jumpy proofreading into relief. Some pages are in great shape while others are rife with typos and mistakes of tense. The characters tend to make the same kind of opportunistic jokes as each other, spreading a fuzzy zaniness across the game at the cost of character individuality. And I found the feuding vampire characters really annoying. They have a kind of Flash Gordon / Prince Barin rivalry going on, except that both of them are Prince Barin. The heroine (us), who unfortunately spends nearly all her time as an unwilling sidekick to one of the vampires, does develop over the game, mustering a tenacity which is underestimated by all the baddies. Her emerging resolve was a source of humour and tension which sucked me back into the second half of the game, but in the main I found too much of BOTH tiring or insufficiently involving. It would take more preparatory work than was done here, or more idiosyncratic characters, to get me interested in all these feuding vampires and the spectacle of their rampage.
This isn't a bad piece of fiction--it is called an homage to b-vampire films, and it shows!
The author has written a campy and frivolous vampire story. It isn't bad, but I think it could use with some editing: while the subject matter is b-film quality, I think the writing should be a little more finely-tuned. Of course, ludicrous things happen--and are supposed to--but the actual writing could have used some editing at times and maybe a few surprises that broke the genre would have made this a stronger effort.
I much preferred the same author's noir mystery piece based on an Agatha Christie novel.
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