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Man is the Worst Monster, November 21, 2015
Content warning for explicit violence.
In this Ectocomp 2015 entry, you and the people you once called friends drive out into a cabin in the woods to fulfil the last wishes of Laurel, once part of your circle. What changed? How did you all drift apart like that? How did you know Laurel?
Ashes is particularly effective in delivering backstory, without ever being too wordy. Rather, Ashes uses gestures and off-hand remarks, succinct enough to give a sense of each friend's personality, and of the ever-present spectre of Laurel.
The characters in Ashes have a storied past with each other, rich with regrets and unspoken wrongs. The author cranks up the tension quickly, using both external events and conversation to create a risky space where each comment could spark off fury, and fury could so easily result in tragedy. As an Ectocomp entry - an entry in a competition for horror-themed games - this falls firmly in the 'man is the worst monster' genre of horror.
Play this if you like the kind of harrowing drama that hinges on dramatic tension and friction between friends. Play this if you want to read about friendships breaking apart, because this doesn't end well for anyone.