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East Grove Hills

by XYZ


(based on 21 ratings)
4 reviews

Game Details


23rd Place - 16th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2010)


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Number of Reviews: 4
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An on the rails parser game about a school shooting, May 17, 2016

East Grove hills tells the story of a group of friends who go through a school bombing/shooting. Like photopia, it is told using non linear time, and it uses Photopias conversation system.

Unlike photopia, it is told through large text dumps, and doesn't provide many natural actions for the protagonist to take.

Overall, a good story.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Advanced students feel melodrama, too, November 19, 2011
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)

EGH is about a shooting during one advanced student's oral presentation for an Advanced Placement class. And I suppose that if a bunch of AP students also wrote an IF game, they'd probably have ones that get more stars and flow more coherently with this, and have more interesting branches, too. Having been in this sort of high-pressure class, it's hard to forget the concern trolls and gaslighters saying "I thought you were smart, but you couldn't even..." to various people at risk of being demoted to mere honors classes.

They'd probably be factually right, not that it makes them better people--the game manages to be badly formatted, disjointed, and crunchingly linear at the same time. You often have just one direction to move. Menu-based conversations make it hard to ask what you want, especially when the "say nothing" option refuses to vanish, and it gets troubling when you have options to be rude to friends with little cause. What seems to be the "best" one discusses (Spoiler - click to show)starting a society of people who dislike being stressed out. Though I did find the school assembly to be good, wicked, frustrated satire. Everyone in high school "knows" those are useless.

But there's too much melodrama, though--the game didn't really need a shooting to discuss the issues of emotion and connection the author really seems to want to deal with. It's all a lot like stories I remember from creative writing periodicals in college where people either drop out and work at McDonald's, write a letter for five pages before junking it, or grow up exactly as unhappy as their parents.

So EGH is about people having to get everything right to get very good grades, and if not, many people will be disappointed. But conversely, EGH got a whole lot wrong, and that's no reason to look down on the writer, who failed to separate the main character's confusion from his own. He said a lot that needed to be said, and was important for him to say. And say badly. I have no idea how much the author suspects or knows this. Hopefully in a few years he can resolve his problems and not be ashamed of what he's written and recognizing that maturing and understanding doesn't have the high stakes and time pressure of an AP class.

I didn't know what teachers were saying when they gave me a B or C and said I really had something and should keep working. I understand they were not giving the same backhanded compliments and encouragement some more competitive students did, but they had to evaluate work objectively, too.

I have to say the same to this game. I can picture the author/narrator being alternately worried he would wind up saying something too stupid or maddening or disjointed to put things together--imagining more "with-it" people holding it up as proof that person was crazy--before just typing something up a few nights before the contest.

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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
On Memory, October 20, 2010
by Danielle (The Wild West)
Related reviews: ifcomp 2010

The night before I played this, my church had a speaker who was, at the time, Bishop (a pastor) to a number of kids who lived through the Columbine shooting. He recounted two of the survivors' stories. Those stories were on my mind while I played this.

The game calls itself "An Interactive Anecdote"--and I feel that's an accurate assessment. The way it's told, the details it leaves out, and its emotional inconclusiveness (in parts) gives this work a feeling of exploring a memory. Some moments are crystallized; they always happen the same way. Other moments are nebulous and change each time you revisit.

I can't say that I know what this piece is saying. I'm not even sure I liked it, or "got" it. But it was interesting, and maybe you'll get more out of it than I did.

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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Experience Without Wisdom, May 22, 2011
by AmberShards (The Gothic South)

On the quality of the writing alone, East Grove Hills ranks as stellar. The characters are well-defined, believable, true-to-life, and pitiable, even though the main character (narrator) can be hurtfully sarcastic. The feel is high-school angst captured to a T, without being preachy, ridiculous, or done to excess. You can feel it soaking into your pores, if you've forgotten what it's like, or radiating out of them when the words find their brothers beneath your skin.

However, it's not a game. It's not even a CYOA. The plot has an inescapable chokehold upon the player, and all you can do is go from one scene to the next, as expected. Despite that this is hinted to be part of the narrator's character, it doesn't help alleviate the claustrophobia it induces in the player.

There are some technical problems, too, especially when conversation topics carry over from one scene to the next. I almost felt embarrassed for the author when I discovered that.

The real disappointment of East Grove Hills lies in the possibilities it excludes. Though the main character survives two frightening scenes, nowhere in his mind is a thought of fighting back. Isn't it time that we recognized that madmen intentionally target areas full of helpless people? Just for once, I'd like to see a game that instead of celebrating weakness, panic, or terror in such a situation, turned the tables. East Grove Hills regurgitates the same, stale, familiar theme as though everyone were helpless, instead of individuals possessed of the need to survive and defend their friends.

Worse, no-one seems to learn anything from their experiences. The ending -- if that was its purpose -- ignores the fact that it takes seriously messed-up people to do the things the game mentions; merely being an outcast isn't enough. We're talking years of parental neglect and near-abandonment, in the case of Columbine. Other cases involved use of anti-depressants which can have horrible reverse effects upon teenagers, because they are still physically maturing. As a result, the ending is lackluster.

East Grove Hills is worth playing, if just for the writing quality alone.

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This is version 1 of this page, edited by David Welbourn on 2 October 2010 at 10:16pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page