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About the Story
Jackie Parker's life gets turned upside down after getting involved in a fatal car accident with her best friend. Now, Jackie's signature has been showing up at murder sights across the area and she has to think back to who could have done it. You have to prove Jackie's innocence, or, are you willing to throw someone else under the bus?
Get to click and play through different scenarios as a coffee barista to see if anyone you had came across could be the true culprit behind it. Figure out the mystery to who might have decided to frame Jackie or, if Jackie is as innocent as she seems.
Content warning: Distressing themes of racism, police corruption, stalking, mentions/indications of self-harm, and toxic behaviors
52nd Place - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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I'll spend some of this review being critical about the prose of this entry, but I'd like to start with the good stuff, of which there is quite a bit. First off, there's the pictures. There's not that many of them, but they help not only set the mood, but also make the people you interact with more concrete. The immediate, visual knowledge of who it is that has walked into the coffee shop somehow makes the encounters more real; and therefore it makes it all the more disconcerting when you have to pick one of them as the potential serial killer. It's all the more disconcerting because there is literally no reason to think any one of them is guilty of so heinous a crime, and the only reason you, as a player, are likely to pick a name anyway, is that the police imply very strongly that they'll try to prosecute you if you don't.
The scenario is pretty fun too! It's a good choice to start the game with the police interrogation. This ensures that the coffee shop scenario, which is relatively slow in terms of the build-up of tension, is immediately charged. You're already looking at all the NPCs with suspicion, which is precisely what the games wants you to do. And it feels less strange that the protagonist is so easily scared, because we know that's she's right to be scared. I enjoyed wondering what was going on, and I enjoyed no knowing what to do when I was called on to accuse someone. Then... well, depending on what you choose, you may either be left in the dark (which I suspect is not a very satisfying ending to get) or you may find out what is really happening... and that's pretty horrific. A good twist ending that left me blinking in disbelief for a while. (On further reflection, it's an extremely literal take on the idea that you shouldn't fear people who don't look like you, but you should fear people who DO look like you. A pretty good idea for a horror story!)
I don't think you can do much in the game to learn more about what is happening, or to change the outcome. If you can, I'd love that, and it would raise my rating of the game. But I didn't find any promising avenues to explore.
Okay, so as I indicated in the beginning, the weakest part of *Please Sign Here* is the prose. It's always possible to understand it, but it's marred by frequent grammatical mistakes and sentences that don't quite work in a variety of ways. Sometimes it's a metaphor gone awry:
Silence cuts through Jackie's next intended sentence.
The cop returns the evidence and brings forth new ones.
Until close! No butts!
It begins to thunder outside, and the lights of the store flickers. Jackie makes a move to look out the window, rain blearing reality and greyness together. The road is empty, and the light from the streetlamp barely illuminates against the concrete.
This is a creepy game in Twine with well-drawn backgrounds and characters.
You play in a coffee shop where a variety of customers keep coming in, but also several murders have occurred in the recent area and shadowy figures are hanging about you.
The characters were all distinct and mostly believable. Everything is tinged with just a hint of grey realism, so everyone has mildly depressing flaws.
The art was very well done. My only complaint on the visual side is that the very first background image is close to the text color in parts, making it difficult to read.
I played through to two different endings, including what appears to be the final ending. I was a bit surprised by the implications of the final ending, as I’m not sure how the rest of the game would make sense in that context. Although as I’m reading this it just dawned on me how it could all tie together, so hmmm…
Overall this was a game that improved my day to play, so I hope others check it out.
Please Sign Here is a fairly linear visual novel mystery. As a coffee barista, you have been brought in for interrogation after being involved in an accident that took the life of your friend and the police finding your signature linked to other incidents. The game goes through the events of the past week, ending with you potentially naming who you think did it. There are about a dozen endings.
Out of all the things I would expect to see in Twine, a visual novel wasn't really one of them. Usually made in RenP'y or Godot, this one was made in Harlowe, a Twine format. Even if the scaling doesn't always work, or the positioning is not always quite right, or the music bar being distracting, just for trying to do that, kuddos to you!
Just a little note on contrast, the text sometimes blended with the background, which was a bit hard to read. A darker text background or different positioning of the image would help a ton!
The story itself might be a bit generic (oh, no! you were accused wrongly!), and the prose awkward at times, but throughout, the game managed to keep up with the suspense. When it starts to mellow out a bit, here's a creepy sprite, or the background changes with darker tones to reflect the state. It is also made clearer with the main character slowly losing her sanity, which is already exasperated by working too much.
Though most of the story is pretty linear, you have a few choice on how you interact with your surrounding and the people entering the coffee shop. Still, your agency stays fairly limited, as the majority of the game happens in a flashback. The main choice happens at the end of the game, with most endings being fairly similar to each other (not one felt quite satisfying).
A big big plus for this entry was the illustrations for the game, especially the backgrounds. Really added to the vibe of the game. I think I liked the car scene the most.