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About the Story
This fantasia on Kipling's "Just So Stories" takes you back to the High and Far-Off Times to learn how all things came to be what they are today. Warning: Contains bad poetry.
33rd Place (tie) - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)
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Number of Reviews: 4
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This is a choice-based work (more on the choices later) that takes the form of a paternal figure (I imagine the grandfather-grandson scenes from "A Princess Bride") telling several anthropomorphized-animal origin stories to a child, in the mold of off Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories". Comparatively long sections of text are broken up with the chance to offer the child's response to what he or she has just heard. Sometimes this takes the form of a binary choice, sometimes it is just a piece of hypertext, the choice made for you, to get to the next page. The prose is quite excellent (while the poetry at the end is appropriately bad) and the stories are well-paced and engaging.
If this were the Short Story Database I would rate this four or five stars. But as the I in IF stands for interactive I have to rate it only three. I feel the very few choices offered in this piece mostly serve as a story selector or only end up altering a few paragraphs worth of prose, and so the interactive portion feels a little thin. However, in praise of the work I can offer the following: 1) I will very likely read this to my kids soon as a series of bedtime stories, and 2) it has inspired me to order a copy of Kipling's stories for the same purpose.
Well worth your time as a reader.
This is a delightful set of fables, done in what sounds to my ear at least a note-perfect ventriloquizing of Kipling’s Just So Stories voice. There are real opportunities for interactivity – the player inhabits the role of the child to whom the stories are being told, and gets to interject an excited choice when the narrator prompts them for input in the story. It’s a very natural, elegant device, and in fact while some options are merely cosmetic, there are a couple that determine which of the five stories on offer (I think – I replayed a second time and didn’t see anything obvious I missed) you wind up seeing. Of course, each ends up just-so-ing into the appropriate place, but that’s sort of the nature of just so stories.
But while the use of choice is canny, it’s really the prose that’s the main draw here, and I felt like every page had something that made me smile. There’s a call-and-response bit between the whale and the tiger that’s got a great rhythm to it, an understated bit of dialogue as the capybara and anaconda come to grips with the natural order of predation, and a crocodile offering help who (Spoiler - click to show)turns out to be a reptile of his word!
There are a few scattered typos – “infinte” for “infinite” once when describing the sagacity of the whale, and there’s an errant capitalized “he” in the middle of a sentence about everything the tiger ate. But very few as such things go – this is a smoothly put-together thing, in design and in writing. The author even gracefully takes on the less-savory aspects of Kipling’s legacy in a non-didactic, but very much appreciated, coda. Very much worth playing!
This is a series of short stories inspired by/based around Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories. Each story is told over a small number of pages, and there is one or two choices per story. These choices lead to massive changes between replays, to the point where it’s basically a choice between two separate stories.
The writing is good, similar to the original. The poetry was amusingly intentionally bad.
I appreciate the thought that went into its game, especially its sly twist near the end. I wasn’t really a fan of Kipling’s Just So stories before playing this game, and I think that influenced me not really getting a big emotional impact from this. But this game shows the author knows how to plan, write and program an interesting Twine game.
+Polish: The game is immaculately polished.
+Descriptiveness: The writing has a distinctive voice.
+Interactivity: Having the choices make an impact was nice.
-Emotional impact: The game was interesting, but I wasn't invested in the characters.
-Would I play again? I think once was enough. It'll stick in my brain though.
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