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About the Story
This Valentine's Day feels an awful lot like Groundhog Day...
You find yourself in an inexplicable time loop, reliving the same day over and over again. Can you find a way to stop your lover from leaving you?
27th Place - tie - 29th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2023)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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This was a pleasant treat to play, although it was often sad.
Itís a looping game where the same events play out over and over but with variations. Many things are the same: a visit to a flower shop, passing by a statue, etc.
Things change visually as well, with the game getting darker over time.
I liked the writing and thought the loop was fun. I liked the note the game ended on.
I didnít always see a clear progression between the different cycles. At first it seemed like things were getting worse and worse, and the darkening would imply that, but in many ways that didnít happen. Maybe it was just about change? Itís okay for things not to have clear progression, but the background darkening seemed to indicate there would be. In any case, this was well written and Iíd definitely play another game by this author.
So, this game's blurb is rather misleading. The PCís partner never appears in the story; by the time weíve gone through picking up flowers, walking through the park, and reaching home, the partner has already left, and this doesnít change in the subsequent loops. This isnít a game about trying to prevent the inevitable, then; itís about trying to process it.
Unlike a typical time-loop story, details of the day are different every time, from the weather to whatís happening at the dog park, and these shifts help build momentum as the PC progresses linearly through each loop, always carrying out the same string of actions. Choices are present, but fairly few, and I donít think they really matter (although on second thought, I wonder if some of those toward the end actually doÖ). I didnít mind this, as it still felt like an experience I could only get through interactive fiction. The repetition with minor changes created an interesting atmosphereórather than fighting against the constraints of a static world, the PC has to journey through one that reflects their own shifting emotional state back at them.
The dialogue was written a bit awkwardly, and in the end, the handling of the themes was a little too on-the-nose for my taste. The PC and their partner were never particularly defined as characters, and I think if they had been the emotions would have hit harder. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the experience, always ending each loop curious to see what would be different next time, and anticipating when and how I would break free.
Last Valentine's Day is a fairly short linear story about love and heartbreak. Set in a Groundhog-Day-like loop, the story uses references to Greek mythology to drive forward its messages. Side-story are interwoven between loops. Though you have some flavour choices throughout the game, there is only one ending.
I was not expecting the game to be this dark. From the blurb, I thought we'd get some sort of whimsical story with maybe silly ways to stop your partner from leaving, next to serious introspective ones, and maybe a choice or two of leaving it all behind. But you neither meet your partner throughout the story (save for the letter they leave behind) nor can you change much your actions before reaching the end of the loop. And through it all, the story gets darker and darker with each loop.
I liked how the game build up from one loop to the next, with details changing between each, whether it be in the descriptions, in the colour scheme, or the header font, or even the names of the locations. Behind the main story, you find the end of a long-lasting relationship, the loss in interest in a hobby, or the remembrance of a lost loved one. While the main story is quite tragic, and the use of looping to add onto the background of that storyline was interesting, I thought the highlight of the game was those side stories and the bits you could uncover with each new loop.
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