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A Grandmother's Retelling of Her Life Through Conflict, Resistance, and Family, July 6, 2022
This game does many of the things that historical fiction does best. It humanizes the people involved in and affected by war in ways that dry articles and statistics simply cannot. Zhang Xiaoyun's childhood and young adulthood are followed through retellings to her great-granddaughter, and at the center of it all is a very meaningful, very human, love story.
A Few Observations:
• I loved choosing options to get additional information, especially the ones that take the player back to the modern-day conversation between (great-)grandmother and granddaughter. Many of these function purely as footnotes, but some also involve playful asides that inspire affection for the characters as well as being informative about the history and setting.
• I also enjoyed the little moment of mlm and wlw solidarity when (Spoiler - click to show) Zhiwen says, "Maybe we're not that different," and the protagonist feels a sense of safety around him (plus her looks of recognition when she sees Zhiwen's reaction at being reunited with the cadre with whom he was presumably romantically involved)
• During this playthrough, I didn't choose many options I anticipated as being more romantically bittersweet, but those few I did read through were poignant and beautifully written. I think I'll devote another playthrough to choosing more of those options in the future.
• A potential error: (Spoiler - click to show) If the protagonist attends a resistance meeting with Yan Yan, later, after the two escape and the authorities show up at their school, the text reads as if Yan Yan is the only one in danger of being found out, when in all likelyhood the protagonist would spare at least a passing thought for her own safety as well. (This may be a missed variable or coding error, and is really a very minor, nit-picky complaint in what is overall a wonderful gameplay experience.)
In closing, I also want to mention the small piece of meta-commentary the game engages in, about the nature and purpose of stories. At one choice, the protagonist says that stories are useful because they "help people understand other people and themselves." If that is the purpose of stories, this game fulfills that purpose very well.