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Real-world body horror, November 21, 2022
The opening sequence conveys two crucial things. One, this looks like an Inform game (Parchment’s classic font and color scheme). And two, the horror is going to hit close to home. “You just let year after year pass…” is one of my greatest fears. So we’re off to a great start.
The game is short and sweet. You’re in the bathroom preparing for your first job interview in decades, reflecting on your life, and trying to cover up this huge zit before you go out in public. Your main options are calling the various contacts in your cell phone and trying to cover it up with the materials at hand. The game ends when you finally feel ready to face the world.
There are two different endings (that I found), and the implementation is quite solid for a Petite Mort game. More importantly, though, this game does a great job of using the illusion of interactivity to emphasize the exact opposite. A parser game offers you the opportunity to do anything in the world and that just shows how few options you really have. The cell phone that connects you to the rest of the world actually underscores your isolation from it. It’s a great way to avoid the combinatorial explosion of a vast, fully-implemented world (bathrooms being infamously difficult to implement in parser games) and also to use the fundamental nature of the medium to emphasize the story being told. And then in the end, you do, in fact, still have the power to determine the ending. The overall effect is quite nice.