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About the Story
A coffee. A friend. Something to talk about.
57th Place - 25th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2019)
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Number of Reviews: 5
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Eye Contact is a short, experimental choice-based game that allows you to play through a single conversation. Most of the talking is done by your conversation partner, who is worked up about something her brother said to her. It turns out that he had the audacity to criticise the filo pastry for her samosas. You can be sympathetic, non-committal, or overtly critical about her (over)reaction. Depending on your choices, some backstory may be revealed – there has been a death in the family – and you may end up helping your friend move along, or not. All this takes a few minutes at most, so it’s easy to replay a few times, and the writing is snappy and to the point. An enjoyable light snack; better executed than the samosas were.
There’s one more crucial ingredient to the game: the eyes. A large picture of your friend’s eyes is always at the top of the screen, looking at you (or away from you) with different expressions as the conversation moves in different ways. The game labels itself as ‘experimental’, and this is clearly the experiment: to see what impact these eyes have on our experience. Will they increase the emotional impact? Will they create a sense of intimacy? Certainly, they were very present. I was sitting behind my computer late at night, in my pyjamas, slumping in my chair… and I felt the urge to straighten up and make sure that my dressing gown was closed; then felt the urge to resist that urge, because I’m not going to be manipulated by a picture of two eyes; and then gave in to the urge anyway. So, yes, I think it did enhance to some extent the feeling of realness. I’m not sure what we gain from the experiment, since a longer game with the same lay-out would get old very quickly, I think. But I can imagine a game in which this only happens occasionally; a re-make of Spider and Web, for instance, in which the interrogator stares at you. That could work.
IFComp 2019 contained quite a number of very short games built around a single idea. Eye Contact didn’t quite have the impact on me that The Surprise and Out had, but it’s nevertheless a worthy addition to this category.
I read through Eye Contact pretty quickly, which was nice because I was able to zip through it several times to gain a full understanding of the story.
It recreates the experience of meeting up with a close friend who needs to vent. I thought that the story was skillfully delivered, realistically leading up to the part where you and your friend realize why she needs to vent.
The concept of this game is clever. You're having a conversation with a friend, and every emotion of the NPC is expressed by a photo of eyes. It's the same person, same pose, but with anger, happiness, sadness, etc. in the eyes.
It's very effective, kind of how emojis help express emotion in texts.
The one drawback in the interactivity and emotion of it is that it all seems a bit shallow. The story is toothless, a frivolous problem with hints at relationship issues. This same technique with a deeper story (not necessarily longer) would be splendid. As it is, it's presented in a very polished and well-done manner.
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For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Use of Multimedia of 2019 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2019 which you think might be worth considering for Best Use of Multimedia in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is partly to...