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A grab-bag of investigation, outlaws, Ute indians and science, March 18, 2021
This is one of the shortest choicescript games sold by Choice of Games. Coincidentally, at 72,000 words, it's longer than any parser game I've written. But in the world of choicescript games, it's fairly slight.
But it uses that time better than most short games. You have a variety of stats that are clearly differentiated from each other during the first chapter, different factions to support against each other, a resource (money) that can be used for many things, etc. There also is a play between supporting science and supporting the wild countryside.
But each thread is somewhat underdeveloped. You play as a sort of private investigator with a single case: finding a missing young woman. This case will take you to the houses of the rich and poor and to the Ute indians, which seem to have been researched fairly well (at least, the relationship between them and the settlers is similar to what I've seen in histories from that time and area).
There's only one case, and romance options only have a few opportunities to interact with them. Your overarching goal evolves a lot in a few short chapters, making the game lose focus.
Of all the < 100K games, though, I'd put this down as one of the best, along with Choice of the Dragon and Choice of Broadsides. I just think that a length between about 200K-400K would have allowed more space to to develop the core ideas.
The one other thing that keeps me from completely recommending it is that the game frequently puts you in spots where you have to pick between using stat A, using stat B, and running away; since there are several stats, this means you often just have no luck.