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How the monsters appeared in the Wasteland

by V Dobranov


Web Site

(based on 9 ratings)
5 reviews

About the Story

“Moog, a new run! Quit fiddling with your irons and charge the batteries!” A printout of the waybill flutters down next to the big magnet I’m lying under. Releasing the wrench, which immediately sticks to the round plate, I grab the printout. Yep. Haul from the Enclaves to the Citadel, one refrigerated container, usual “do nots”: DO NOT raise the temperature, DO NOT open the cargo hull, DO NOT fall into the hands of the Nomads.

Another sunny day in the Wasteland. With a sigh, I scramble out from under the hovercraft and go to fight through the crowd at the charging station.

A chase on a post -apocalyptic Highway

Game Details


31st place - 27th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2021)


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Number of Reviews: 5
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A post-apocalyptic road chase in Twine, October 9, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a pretty fancy-looking Twine game with options for play in Russian or English.

It features custom CSS styling with changing background colors and a cool mechanic where you can click on an item and then on any earlier highlighted link to use the item there, giving it more robust puzzles.

You play as one of two people in a vehicle speeding down a highway carrying precious cargo. It has kind of a Star Wars feel but on land instead of space. Some people start chasing you and you have to take control of the guns.

This is a fast-paced game and I felt nervous for my character a lot, thinking I'd mess up, but I got through okay. The storytelling and writing is good, and I enjoyed it.

+Polish: Very good looking game
+Descriptiveness: Vivid world building
+Interactivity: I liked the two-layer puzzles and the good hints the game gives you
+Emotional impact: I felt nervous for my characters
-Would I play again? This is a very good game, but it's a bit overwhelming at time, because there are just so many options.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Post-apocalyptic thrill-ride, December 2, 2021
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2021

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review posted to the IntFict forums during the 2021 IFComp. My son Henry was born right before the Comp, meaning I was fairly sleep-deprived and loopy while I played and reviewed many of the games, so in addition to a highlight and lowlight, the review includes an explanation of how new fatherhood has led me to betray the hard work the author put into their piece)

This short Twine game is basically just one extended chase sequence, but it’s a pacey, thrilling ride that keeps the excitement high without resorting to killing the player. The setup is classic postapocalyptic sci-fi – you and your trusty robot sidekick (actually, given his competence maybe you’re the sidekick?) are transporting a mystery cargo across the hostile wastes in your hovercraft when everything goes wrong. Dealing with ship repairs, fending off angry raiders, and surviving the consequences of your patrons’ decision to keep you in the dark keep the player busy, as there’s always a new crisis coming up.

What you’re meant to do next is usually clear, but figuring out the exact right places to look for the tools you need, or how best to shoot up the nomads, can require a bit of fumbling that ratchets up the tension. At first the interface was responsible for some of this clumsiness, since the inventory system is a little idiosyncratic, but once I figured out how it worked everything was very smooth. The story here goes exactly how you would expect, and all the characters remain stock types, but the high quality of the implementation still makes the game an entertaining way to spend half an hour.

Highlight: The descriptions of the wasteland were surprisingly evocative, given that it could have easily just been a sketched-in backdrop for the action.

Lowlight: The ending is the one place where the pacing fails; after the clear climax of the story, there’s an extended but simple sequence where you secure transportation for your escape, and then the game ends anticlimactically, without much of a denouement. It would have been more satisfying had the ending been either hard up against the action-packed climax, or pushed back to allow more room for the aftermath of the story to be established.

How I failed the author: I was once again playing this left-handed on my phone, so I didn’t copy-and-paste any of the wasteland descriptions to illustrate the highlight – you’ll just need to take my word for it.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Unrelenting action, November 13, 2021

This game does a great job of slamming you right in the middle of the action and pummeling you with a sense of urgency. I haven't read through a story this quickly in a long time. Everything in the text drives the story forward at an incredible speed, and I felt like I didn't have a moment to waste. Having an NPC robot partner constantly shouting directions and telling me to quit wasting time contributed to the stress level. Luckily, the interface is incredibly intuitive. I thought it was set up so that the player can quickly decide what needs to be done with minimal exploration. Even when I got to a moment where things seemed to have settled down, the tension remained right up until the end. I also appreciated that the author used the description box to show the moments before the game started. More episodes in this series would be highly anticipated.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Very quick and effective, December 30, 2021
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: IFComp 2021

The author, like me, put two entries into IFComp this year. I think I see eye to eye with their methodology, too: don't make anything too long, because there will be more than enough entries, and you don't want to hog the oxygen. Let people revisit if they're interested. And I was, and I was glad to have something not in my genre(s) energize me for the next few entries. They've done well to present everything clearly and not leave any loose ends, except for the ones you need to chase down to find a few interesting details, and the translation is strong. On my first reading through, I thought "Why isn't it WHEN the monsters...?" but on re-reading, I get it. There's a bit of sleuthing to do, because you're not spoon-fed everything. It's that sort of entry that has a bit of everything, even up to causing tension without having any way to get you killed.

It seems HtmaiW is intentionally light on aesthetic details, and I think that's the right choice, because listing the technical specs of whatever armored vehicle you're using to transport the goods, as well as the how and why, would take away from the emotional punch. You are mercenaries doing a job. You don't have a lot of time for the technical stuff. You just have to make sure the power works. And at the start, it doesn't work well. Lights flicker. The fridge compartment's power is flaking, and your orders are to keep the cargo cool–which leaves various macabre suggestions as to what the cargo IS, and why it needs to be moved from the Enclave to the Citadel. It's a weapon, of sorts.

And very quickly, after the first repairs, you realize WHY this run may be so tricky. Nomads want to either steal or destroy your cargo. Again, both possibilities are workable, and your conversation with your android, uh, co-worker, Doho gives a sense of urgency. Yes, you need to fix that door in your vehicle that's on the blink. No, you don't have a lot of time. The vehicle isn't super-huge, but it's big enough to know this is serious business. The player's unfamiliarity with the GUI (well-presented as it is) also contributes to the tension when Doho exhorts you to hurry up. Doho's like that throughout.

And after you shoot down a few stray nomads, you get overwhelmed. Doho, being an android, sees things quite level-headedly up to the end. And it's his physical head you need to preserve, as you need to do certain things to ensure your own safety. This is a good creepy way of giving the player instructions without a full instruction sheet. You know what to do, but you're worried about Doho, even though he's irrelevant in the big picture and knows it. I certainly experienced some fear of "what if I arrived at the Citadel without even Doho's head, with the memory card in it."

Through all this, no mention of monsters, though probably some monstrous behavior and leadership contributed to the whole situation. You just can't call the monsters ... that. And of course, when they appear, they make sure you're safe from the nomads attacking you. It's unclear to me whether Doho predicted the monsters would destroy your potential captors, but either way, they're not the sort of entities to care about memory chips in an android's head.

I was able to escape, and I don't think there's much more, though I had lingering feelings something was missed. I suppose I could not have stopped the monsters from spreading, and I wound up not getting killed, but not much more. I'm curious if I could've done more. I feel like I missed something. Maybe I wanted to do more with or for Doho, or I expected to do more with the toolbelt, which had an interesting interface where links changed colors when you examined it. But HtmaiW was effective even before that. For all the Bad Things that it implies happen behind the scenes, it's the sort of entry that clearly adds to IFComp and won't bog a lot of people down, even if they get stuck fiddling with some mechanics. That's part of the game. It doesn't intimidate you with importancy, but it definitely provides a quick rush. And it has some nice touches, such as small passages in Arabic you can just google-translate, or a choice between Russian and English text, where later the English version gets some Russian text. This just made me smile.

So I think it's well worth a visit. And it definitely feels like there could or even should be a sequel.

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Short action story., April 15, 2022

This is a short linear story without puzzles. I enjoyed the good, matter of fact setting and style, and I think it's worth the 15 minutes required to play. It has monsters. It is pretty much non stop action, and maybe could have benefited from better pacing.

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This is version 4 of this page, edited by Zape on 21 November 2021 at 3:49am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page