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Elvish for Goodbye

by David Gürçay-Morris

2022

Web Site

(based on 9 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

"To think of 'living' there was to reduce the miraculous to the mundane; one does not 'live' at Xanadu."

— Joan Didion, "Goodbye to All That"

---=+=---

The great elvish city of Wild Idyll disappeared when our grandparents were still young, and all of the elves along with it. We each know dozens of stories about this near-mythical place, and hundreds more about the near-immortals who built it; but who can say what is true about a place that barely exists in memory?

Then I met the last person to have lived in Wild Idyll.

---=+=---

A choice-based story about telling stories, leaving cities, and cities leaving us.


Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2022
Current Version: Unknown
License: Freeware
Development System: Ink
IFID: Unknown
TUID: u8x12omz0a93jues

Awards

32nd Place - tie - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)

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Member Reviews

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3 star:
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A poetical and philosophical fantasy story about the coming and going of elves, October 22, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This is an IFComp entry that is entirely focused on story, understanding and self-thought rather than gameplay or mechanics.

The idea is that there were once elves who one day left. You meet (or met) a woman who was one of the last to live among the elves. She teaches you about their language, and about their 497 words for goodbye.

That description doesn't really do justice, though, because the real content of this game is its style rather than its story. More than anything else this story reminded me Borges and Calvino, both of whom I've read less than perhaps I ought to have. I looked up those authors after reading this game and enjoyed learning about them and their literary techniques.

One thing this game does that those writers do is to purposely jar the reader from their pleasant immersion in the story. Frequently the game will lead you to what seems like understanding only for the author to say 'but it wasn't like that at all'. Kind of like, for imaginary example, if you were telling a story about people lining up for miles in NYC to get cheesecake, and then the PoV character asking 'It must have been good then,' and then getting the response, 'Of course not, it was terrible. It was all tourists lining up.' I'd like to say this technique is an example of Verfremdung, but I just learned that word 10 minutes ago and am almost certainly misapplying it.

The language is lovely and complex, requiring a slower reading for understanding, similar to Chandler Groover's work. One runs a risk telling stories about storytellers like this; if you're writing about a group who is known for great poetry and expressiveness, you yourself must be expressive and poetic. But this game sidesteps this a bit neatly by having the main character him or herself be impressed by the secondary narrator.

There were a few minor typos (I found four, two of which were in this phrase: (Spoiler - click to show)the the City when I first arrived here; I lost myself within its imensity . Overall, it's fairly polished.

I first heard part of this game read by the author after the comp started in the Seattle IF group, and I could still hear his voice while playing it. I enjoyed it. I suppose the only negative to me was that I felt a bit at a distance from the narrative, both mechanically and narratively; it felt like someone else's story. But it was a beautiful one.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Dialogue-heavy and choice-light, but interesting story and very good writing, October 23, 2022
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 1 hour, IF Comp 2022

In this choice-based game, you play a human in a vague, mostly fantasy, but a little steampunk, world. You happen to befriend an elf, perhaps the last elf in the world, one night. The great Elven city disappeared without warning and without a trace when your grandfather was a child. It seems so long ago it might be well be myth. But now you get to hear the account of the great city firsthand!

Where to start with this game? First, let me say that the author is clearly a talented writer. Unfortunately, at least for the first third or so of this piece, he seems to want to show off just how just how lyrical he can be with his prose and it gets to be a bit to thick. Thankfully, he settles down further into the piece and the story moves on elegantly and much more smoothly. Still, there is no doubt he has quite a way with words and I'm eager to see what other works he can produce.

Second, there isn't much interactivity in this story. There are a few choices that allow you to direct the conversation, and I suspect, change the latter story a bit. But I don't think that they make much of a difference in terms of branching narratives. This one feels pretty linear to me. Now that isn't always bad (see Turandot), but for a linear choice-based game to be good I think it needs to offer you lots of choices to express your character's character, to make the PC your own. Here I don't think you had that option.

Finally, I was disappointed with the resolution. For a fair part of the story I didn't think there was enough action, but the more tales the NPC told the more I was able to appreciate it for what it was. That said, I don't think that the ending was as fleshed out as it should have been. I think I understand it after a couple playthroughs, but I wish there had been some more specifics about (Spoiler - click to show)how and why the Elven city disappeared.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with the story, and I hope to see more from this author in the future. This was a good piece, it just could have been a bit better.


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
497 words, October 9, 2022
by Rovarsson (Belgium)

An elaborate worldbuilding accomplishment, with a touching story shining through. The glimpses of the Elven city we are granted through an unknown narrator’s tales are beautiful, soothing almost. The Elves’ dependance on words and trees to make their home moved me deeply. A literary-historical-creative society.

We are give even sparser details of the alternate earth human city, perhaps because the asker of questions who represents us is an inhabitant of this city, accustomed to its peculiarities. Short descriptions mention strange machines and hard-to-imagine energy-production. An alchemical-technological counterpart.

The traversal of the story I experienced was wistful and nostalgic, with overtones of hope. I encountered themes of destruction and renewal, the young born out of the old.

The delicate treatment of language and its role in retaining a stable sameness throughout history while allowing a shaping anew of older forms into the future resonated deeply with me.

I will read this story again and again to catch more glimpses. Beautiful.


See All 4 Member Reviews

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