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About the Story
A word becomes a sentence becomes a story about two sisters who become the world.
Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2016
Claro Largo is described as a community formed by exiles and refugees from an unnamed authoritarian city. Belona, the retiring “Mary” of the pair, is a strange, troubled character who seems to have been seeking after a spiritual truth ever since she was a child; Alma, the active “Martha”, is a leader who eventually forms what is essentially a local militia, and takes charge of protecting (or controlling?) the community. Parallels might be drawn between the girls’ situation and the history of the authoritarian city. It seems almost certain that the two sisters are representative of larger causes and factions: church vs. state, perhaps; or spiritual freedom vs. earthly control.
Gameplay is presented in the form of hyperlink words that add sentences to the displayed text, expanding the story. In some ways, this feels very much like a case of “click to continue”, and I was unimpressed. On a second playthrough, I did find that not every link needed to be clicked and expanded in order to continue to the next chapter. I rather suspect that the idea is to form differently nuanced stories by what is or is not revealed.
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Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling
It takes an expansive approach to storytelling: each time you click a link, that sentence expands with extra detail, growing the story. Sometimes you’re expanding the end, sometimes the beginning, sometimes a bit in the middle; often you’re gaining just a phrase per click. When the narrator remembers an early event that influenced later outcomes, you jump back to fill that event in at its proper place in the narrative. I was reminded of NJ Lowe’s writing on holographic story.
At the end, the situation reverses and you’re removing items instead (a little reminiscent of Detritus, which also inverts its core mechanic). Inventive, but also quite constrained and linear—I didn’t see any points where it felt like the player’s choice could alter the outcome, and very often there was only one link available at a time anyway.
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Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Story of two sisters and the sinister towns they called home. This is a twine tale constructed in an unusual way, beginning with a couple of words, expanding into a sentence, and expanding further into paragraphs. The narrative jumps from one paragraph to another, always adding things where they belong in the chronicle.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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Time to completion: 20-30 minutes
When you escaped, you were childless. Now, away from the City and its cells, you have two daughters, both special and peculiar in their own ways. Their stories will shape the future of Claro Largo.
The narrator in this game is pretty much invisible, compared to what the titular sisters do (and end up doing). The story is grim, melancholic; the village setting suggests claustrophobia, despite its promise of freedom. To me, this called to mind stories such as The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula Le Guin, or Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. (Of course, these comparisons are far from perfect, though they share similar tones and atmospheres.)
This game uses telescopic text (similar to what this tool does) to slowly reveal the story. This gimmick is purely mechanical (technically, there's nothing really to stop this being a linear story), but the order in which text is presented makes clear the conceptual links, the story's chronological order. Sisters is very simple, but tells a good story.
This game has several interesting features. First, it is available in English or Spanish, which I found delightful. This was my first real experience in Spanish, although I only did 1 out of 5 'chapters' in Spanish.
The other most interesting feature is its dynamic text. The only thing I've seen like it is Plotkin's Matter of the Monster, but this game has more depth. You click on links to expand the text, but the expansion can occur at different locations from where you click, opening the beginning of the story, the middle, or the end. In later chalters, the mechanic opens up in unexpected and delightful ways.
Visually, I found the text color and background to be somewhat unaplealing, but it adds to the games character somewhat.
The story is about a couple that leaves a city in an unspecified setting (could be prehistoric, futuristic, magical, etc.). Together they must deal with their children and the new society they take part in.
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