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About the Story
Carnivals aren't all fun and games.
This is a cute short story that will really bring back memories for you if you've ever been to a carnival. And I'm not talking about the fancy indoor carnivals, I mean those carnivals that pop up overnight in the old abandoned parking lots that have grass growing up through the cracks.
The story will take you through a number of different aspects of that fun-time carnival, depending on the choices you make. Clearly, the author has experience at these carnivals, because the details included feel quite accurate to me. And if you don't have experience with those carnivals, you should go ahead and read this one to get a good feeling of how things really work behind the scenes at a typical carnival.
General Recommendation: This game is recommended for those looking for a surreal and campy life-or-death political drama surrounding the factional tensions of a messed-up carnival.
Preview: A surreal and campy life-or-death political drama surrounding the factional tensions of a messed-up carnival.
Iím a fan of works that take small situations and dramatize them into life-or-death power struggles, and this game is a fine example of this trope done well. Its factional nature keeps the game full of genuine suspense and unease, while the inherent absurdity of battle for the fate of the circus keeps the mood light and entertaining. Choosing your alliances is fun, as is choosing the best way to achieve your goal once you know what it is.
Itís tough to make a game fun to play with such a pathetic main character. However, the Geek never indulges in self-pity, and has his own brand of cleverness when dealing with circus politics, becoming an unlikely catalyst in the carnivalís future. The player is forced to work to achieve their goals with limited resources, making the gameís choice of protagonist an asset rather than a hindrance.
The Geekís lack of power is really a tool in this game, as the Ring Master realizes. As an unaligned character loathed equally by just about everyone, only you have the true power to determine the fate of the carnival. Itís an interesting take on the character archetype.
-Yikes, thatís one heck of an info dump. Iím not fond of informational links in games, and this one starts off with a lot of them.
-Not a big fan of characters using more than one set of pronouns, it tends to make the writing choppy and confusing. That said, itís less jarring here, since the Ringmaster is meant to be a choppy and confusing character. I still prefer ďtheyĒ as a term for gender-neutral characters.
-ďPrevusĒ the clown, lol. Subtle.
-After playing paradise violated, ground zero, and alpha wolf, where the narrator is surrounded by incompetence, itís an interesting change to be playing an underdog surrounded by people who are stronger than he is, and being used by people who are smarter than he is, like the Ring Master. It requires a different style of play, and gives the game a unique feel compared to these other works.
-I find it amusing that Madam Orbec always seems to know what you want from her when you visit.
-This is a game that could very easily become overly campy or ridiculous, given the nature of the situation (particularly how easy it is to die at a carnival), but the writing style and the way in which the story is presented prevents the story from becoming too over-the-top.
-Successfully siding with Charlie still gets you killed if you doonít have extra protection, as well it should. I like that choosing with whom you ally is just as important to this gameís outcome as how well you do it.
-The secret behind the pinheads is amusing and logical.
-Huh, Madame Orbec really IS magic.
-I like the way the occult is handled in this story. Itís never really explained or made explicit, and you only really learn things about it in the bad endings. Magic is used to cause problems in this story, not to solve them, and it fits well with the tone of the work.
-I like the Ring Master character. They seem like one of the few genuinely clever and reasonably well-meaning people at the carnival.
-This game is a nice dip into a strange world. Concepts and characters are explored lightly, in a way that intrigues without going into too much detail. I think the short scope of time covered by this game helps, the player is thrust into an unfamiliar situation and must orient themselves. The shortness of the game prevents the player from becoming really comfortable with the world, and keeps them on the edge of their seat, as intended.
-Like Alpha Wolf, the concept for this game is quite unique.
Mastery of Language
There are a number of sentence structure issues, but overall itís not bad in this one.
The first time I played this, I assumed variables were used, but I realize now that this is in EndMasterís traditional cave of time style. There really are a lot of different ways this situation can play out, and the player has a lot of control over the gameís outcomes.
Player Options/fair choice
Though itís very easy to die, it never feels random or undeserved.
On my first play through I got the ending where you convince the midgits to rebel against Charlie and unite under Salina. Probably the best ending, after reading through all of the others.
CONCLUSION: A surreal and entertaining game.
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