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About the Story
Orphaned and outcast in medieval Romania, Florin’s life takes a turn for the worse when his sister, Nadia, disappears from the neighboring gypsy circus. He and his faithful wolf companion, Zana, need your guidance to unravel the mystery. Thrust into a world of mysterious performers, a tyrant with a sinister secret, and endless intrigue and magic, Florin and Zana are in for more than they could ever imagine. Will you guide them to safety, or fall prey to this new world? The choice, and their lives, are in your hands.
66th Place - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)
The Gaming Philosopher
In Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the mermaid and the prince she so desperately loves end up marrying. In the original Andersen fairy tale, the prince marries a princess and the mermaid’s heart breaks. Disney changed the story in order to make it more… well, the gamut of possible answers ranges from “appropriate for children” through “commercially successful” to “American”, but one thing we can no doubt agree on is that it changes the nature of the entire story in a fundamental way. But what about an interactive version of the story where you could get either ending depending on the choices you make earlier? Would it work? What kind of story would it be?
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Number of Reviews: 2
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The Broken Bottle is a long choice-based story about a young boy, the wolf he has befriended, and a nearby encampment of gypsies. The game is made in Unity, and the "welcome" page says that it's a prototype. However, it mostly felt like a completed story to me.
The cover art is beautiful, although it's also somewhat confusing: What is Professor Elwood's Castle of Oddities? There's no such person or thing that I could find in the game - or even a hint of anything like that. Perhaps The Broken Bottle is intended to be one story in a collection that is somehow tied together by Professor Elwood and his castle.
The game's presentation is also beautiful. Like another IFComp 2018 game, Abbess Otilia's Life and Death, the story is in book form. Also like Abbess Otilia, I found the book lovely to look at. In addition, you get this nice "page turning" sound effect every time you, well, turn a page. I think Myst and/or Riven had something like that as well. It helped draw me in.
For about the first half or so of The Broken Bottle it felt very much like I was simply reading a beautifully-presented online novella: This part of The Broken Bottle is heavy on the fiction and light on the interactive. (I only remember one choice up through midgame.) Around the middle of the game, though, you start being presented with choices (always binary choices) with a fair degree of regularity. I wasn't sure at first how much many of these actually mattered, but by the end I could see that some really did have effects that showed up - sometimes much later.
I got an ending I was mostly happy with. I did kind of want to try for another ending, but the story is so long, and the first half is nearly all straight narrative. I couldn't make myself click through all the pages again to find something different.
Overall, a long, beautifully-presented story whose interactive elements don't really kick in until about midgame.
This game is by (I think) a commercial team that had a different approach to IF than most of the authors in the competition.
This game is lavishly decorated as a book, with occasional beautiful illustrations.
You play as a wolf who is friends with a young child.
It has essentially one choice per 'chapter', with the later chapters having the strongest effects. This is in contrast to most twine-style games, which encourage frequent irrelevant choices or gradual choices. This game's style is exactly what I would expect Netflix's choose your own adventure shows to be like: long segments punctuated with individual, large-effect choices.