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About the Story
It's 1999, and your roommate has talked you into hosting a Halloween party. It's pretty much going to be all his friends, but you've invited a few of your own who may or may not make it. Here's hoping for the best.
Nominee, Best Story - 2020 XYZZY Awards
29th Place - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 7
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This is a fairly short, mostly linear, choice-based work. You play Perry, the quiet, somewhat nerdy, roommate of a party animal. He is throwing a Halloween party tonight at your apartment and you agreed to help, but you don't really want to be there. The night becomes much more bearable when some of your friends show up and you all take refuge on the porch, just talking and hanging out.
The author has what I think is a rare talent as a writer: to be able to convey the essence of a friendship primarily through dialogue. Reading this story made me think of Dante and Randall from "Clerks" or Parzival and Aech from "Ready Player One". I was drawn in to the camaraderie and it gave the story both warmth and impact. In the end I had goosebumps on my skin and tears in my eyes.
The story is primarily linear. You can wander around a bit at the beginning, before the story is pretty much put on rails for the second half. I do recommend reading everything, as there are some flashback scenes triggered amongst the chaos of party that give the second half added depth. Normally the lack of meaningful choices would have me lowering the rating, but this story really got to me in a special way so I had to give it four stars. I think it compares well with "Will Not Let Me Go" by Stephen Granade, even though it doesn't quite rise to that level.
Well worth your time.
While I do enjoy a good character study where the players talk way above their station (e.g. Mamet Speak), I am more comfortable when the characters just act and talk like run-of-the-mill boring humans. While the writing here isn't always up to par, Lance Nathan creates a sympathetic boring protagonist in Perry and plops him into an electric situation. The entire game takes place at a college party that Perry is entirely uncomfortable with; in that sense, he reminds me a lot of myself. In the following paragraph, Nathan demonstrates his strengths and weaknesses all in one:
How does your roommate know these people? And how does anyone get this drunk? For a moment you pause to wonder if there's a connection, before realizing you really don't care and would rather not think about it. Plenty of time to think about it tomorrow, you tell yourself bitterly, while you're cleaning up.
The first two questions say a lot while saying very little. Our protagonist is likely an introvert. He's usually sober, and likes to have a sense of control over himself and his surroundings. He also has a contentious relationship with his roommate but is not confident enough to confront him. The resentment is growing and will likely simmer for a long time. But then the paragraph just goes on as Perry's thoughts and feelings are dissected (replete with an adverb) and thrown in our laps. We learn nothing new. This happens a few times throughout the story, the author not trusting that the player will pick up on the characterizations.
That said, I'd like to point out another strong introduction to the story's hero, Andy:
Sometimes it could be aggravating; you got mad at him over nothing in eighth grade and the two of you spent a month not speaking to each other, until one day he sat down across from you at lunch again and you started complaining about the meatloaf and everything was back to normal.
I can't speak for anyone else, but I have lived this exact situation and I imagine many others have as well. Nothing quite like shoving resentment down without talking about it and being glad things feel okay for a while.
The story is on rails, which is ideal here. However, occasionally you will read a conversation that happens between characters, then click on a hyperlink to observe something else, and then when you return you get the same text dump you saw before. I encourage the author to brush up on if/then/else for future games in order to avoid this continuity issue.
Despite my concerns, I did enjoy this story. The characters are fun and the ending is bittersweet. I look forward to any future offerings from Nathan.
This game reminds me a little bit of the IF game Eurydice in tone and opening setup.
This is a longish Twine game that is almost entirely choiceless. It consists of several pages, each long, containing a detailed story, with some click-replace links and a few 'asides' (where you read them and come back). An early segment allows some options in the order you explore three scenes. It's styled with orange-on-black text, and is set at a 1999 Halloween party.
The structure of the game means that this game depends entirely on the quality of its story, and I think it excels there. There's real tension, especially if you read the content warnings ahead of time. There are surprises throughout, and I think overall this is some of the best writing of the comp. In a way, that made some of the links a little more frustrating; I didn't want to miss any of the good writing, so I just clicked on everything in order, going back and forth on the asides. I wonder if I 'notation' system like Harmonia's would have worked better.
If the author reads this, I loved the story. Very meaningful!
+Polish: I didn't see any errors.
+Descriptiveness: Great writing.
-Interactivity: I was a little frustrated by it.
+Emotional impact: I teared up a bit after.
-Would I play again? I liked it, but I think it will stick well enough from 1 playthrough.
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