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About the Story
What adventures will you have when you can’t sleep at night? An enthralling tale with more than 25 endings!
Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2023
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Number of Reviews: 5
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(This review is based on the Spring Thing 2023 version.)
What a welcome surprise! I expected this to be an elaborate joke game, where you die in various hilarious/gruesome ways a link or two removed from the start-screen. The fact that the intro-screen already offered a bunch of non-official endings strengthened my belief that this game was going to be a riff on unnecessarily complex choice games that tap into the human brain’s tendency to collect-'em-all.
And yes, Insomnia does that. It does it extremely well, with various bonuses and achievements handed out as you reach more endings. (I liked being able to change the subtitle!)
I’m actually very impressed by the depth, detail, and variety of the stories. The author obviously was invested in treating the branching narratives as interesting premises in their own right, following through on the player’s choices to their ultimate, sometimes extremely zany, sometimes thriller-serious, consequences.
The writing is engaging and considered, another sign that the stories are a serious matter (silly as they may be), not just a way to get the player to groan at the next failure. I found myself strongly captivated by a few of the pathways through the piece. Among the other well-written storylets, these stood out for me as blueprints for exciting short stories or games on their own. ()
If I may add a small nitpick, even the more serious storylets () are told in the same fast-paced humorous voice as the zaniest ones. These more tense pieces might benefit from a shift in tone to reflect the actual sorrow they cause the protagonist. (2 cents to be picked up or ignored, of course.)
A great ending-hunt with hidden depths.
This is a short Twine game with multiple endings. I liked the intro explaining (especially for newcomers to Twine) how the interactive story and clickable links work. And I really appreciated the option in the game to go back to the last checkpoint if you reach an ending, rather than go back to the very start every time.
The writing is amusing, but I was initially wondering if I would explore too far, if things got too repetitive. But in the end I played through to see all the different endings. It’s a branching narrative, so they’re not too hard to reach, but it just takes time. The writing is a good reward though. Lots of amusing scenes played out, multiple genres, neatly written.
As an insomniac I could also relate to so much of this, albeit with more amusement than tossing and turning. Thanks to the author!
As a fellow Spring Thing 2023 author, I was amused to note a similarity between Insomnia and Write or Reflect–well, WoR in helpful mode, anyway! Both have a possibility of going to endings you’ve seen before. (Insomnia has a bit more writing as a payoff, and said writing is better organized through some pretty diverse adventures!)
But they have different mechanisms for helping you to find all the different endings, so to speak.
Also, I’d like to thank the author for an early encouraging note to me about WoR. I hope this is good payback. So any suggestions here are “It’d be neat to do this too!”
WoR’s helpful mode lets you know if you’re about to walk into a node where all endings are covered. So you will get there, and rather quickly, by trial and error. It forces you to find the right path, which may ruin the fun of exploration.
But Insomnia leaves a bit of a puzzle. It’s quite up-front about things and I think even the endings seem to be organized so that, say, ending #1 is “first choice all the way through” and #26 is “last choice all the way through.” So you have a neat idea of what you can target and when and how. There’s some neat intuition here that I like, because while I enjoy branching Twine games, I sort of cringe at having to look at the source to knock off that last ending or two. Whether or not the endings diverge as much as Insomnia!
So I’m not aware of anything else that handles the endings as Insomnia does. But I’d be interested to see others, because I think it’s a great idea well-executed that helps it go beyond "yet another zany Twine game with clever fun writing." Especially since Insomnia doesn't try to slide on its zaniness alone. There's a funny ethical dilemma (well, not really) and I was amused to find the main villain was someone named Richards. With apologies to people whose last name is Richards, I laughed, remembering a line from a story I never wrote in college: "Geez, you have Richards this year for English? What an asshole!" Richards is, indeed, worse than that. I thank Insomnia for dredging up my irrational subconscious hate of people surnamed Richards. Especially if they have mustaches and wear corduroy blazers with elbow patches. (That's part of my never-published story.)
Insomnia's structure and bumpers open up possibilities for creating Twine-ish paths elsewhere, maybe even allowing the player a difficulty knob of how much they want to spoil.
For instance, you could have a counter saying, once you’ve hit all the endings in the (Spoiler - click to show)UFO branch (there are four) two times, that one is blocked off somehow or the node is bumped back! It seems like this would be tricky to do in Twine, but it would allow for a VERY branching game with even more than 26 endings so that the player’s energy would focus less on staying patient and juggling endings and more on the writing.
(Another neat idea, especially if the game had meta components, would be to allow the player maybe 2-3 glimpses at a branching ending map. Or maybe even label the endings 11111, etc., based on which choice gets you somewhere in the minimum tries.)
Insomnia is definitely a fun light-hearted read but it brings up some (to me) engaging, serious issues of how to keep the player’s attention and the niceties we should add to help them along and feel the optimal amount of stuck so we had a neat challenge, without giving up!
All these considerations, though, are nothing to lose sleep over. Ha ha ha.
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