In The Friend Zone

by Brendan Vance


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Number of Ratings: 7
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1-7 of 7

- EJ, August 12, 2016

- Doug Orleans (Somerville, MA, USA), May 20, 2016

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An allegorical journey exploring the role of 'Nice Guys' in relationships, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: IF Comp 2015

In the Friend Zone is an allegory like Gulliver's Travels or Alice in Wonderland, but centered around the plight of the Nice Guys who get stuck in the Friend Zone by women.

Although the love interest and PC can have their gender chosen, it seems to be centered around men; after all, the entire world seems to be (Spoiler - click to show)a woman, where you explore her arm, eye, mouth, anus, and vagina, getting progressively more disturbing.

Gameplay is linear at first, turning into exploration later on. The game directs towards different 'questions', which you hunt through to find. I enjoyed this part of the game, as well as parts of the openings.

The overall theme is something I don't quite identify with, and as a prudish person, there are more sexual references than I would like. The general feel seems to be that women are torturing men by placing them in the Friend Zone, but the subtext is that the men are torturing themselves. Nowhere, though, does it suggest open dialogue or communication as ways of developing relationships.

So I had mixed feelings about it. I loved the execution and writing, and I'd be very happy to see more from this author.

- Karl Ove Hufthammer (Bergen, Norway), November 9, 2015

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Lost in a surreal, violent world, November 6, 2015
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: IFComp 2015

This Twine game plays on the oft-repeated phrase ‘friend zone’, using it as a literal prison for Nice Guys. It brands itself as a horror-parody 'in the tradition of Franz Kafka’, but I’m not sure Kafka could have topped this level of bizarre imagery.

What is by far the most distinctive thing about this game is its writing and mythos, really. There are apocalyptic scenes galore, and Lovecraft inches his way into each scene. It feels like the game Neka Psaria. It feels like a slimy version of Stross’s Rule 34. It feels like some kind of regional gothic, made interactive. This game reads like Porpentine… kind of, with more effigies and less cyberpunk.

The story appears to be set in an elaborate mythos with Priapus (in its original form, a Greek god of fertility and protector of male genitalia) worshipped as a kind of malevolent deity.

It’s no surprise that there’s sexual imagery throughout, though the imagery seems less erotic than violent. There is also quite a fair bit of violence, though at that point it felt more abstract than visceral. This was partly because the targets of the violence were nameless and, for all purposes, not distinct.

Apart from that, I found it hard to get my bearings. The way to progress through the game isn’t really clear - you start off naming a person you’re looking for, but exactly what has happened to that person is very unclear. It made it frustrating for me, half because I kept 'walking’ in circles, half because I didn’t know how to advance the story.

Nevertheless, Vance’s writing is sound. It never veers into Lovecraftian purple prose, despite its influence, and putting aside my misgivings, this is an able piece of genre writing.

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), October 31, 2015

- Sobol (Russia), October 4, 2015

1-7 of 7 | Return to game's main page