Number of Reviews: 4
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Ghost Healer, no supernatural trinkets needed, January 17, 2023
I still don't particularly "get" Texture as a development system, as opposed to others: Ink, Twine, parser. However, it seems to produce a certain sort of effort I might otherwise ignore but for IFComp, and overall, I've enjoyed them. The GUI is just too fiddly for me, on a desktop or on a phone. But it does tamp down some of the special-effect excesses that can occur in Twine and ambiguities of the parser. You need to keep stuff tidy on one screen. It doesn't seem built for long works. GS felt like the most technically substantial of the IFComp texture entries, and it didn't feel too long.
My expectations certainly swerved through GS. Early on, you have a lot of player deaths, as you'd expect from a game named Graveyard Strolls. Whether you flee or not, you can get killed, unless you thread the needle. Most of the time, you'll figure what to do, but there are enough forks you will probably slip once later. Then, later, there are ghosts you have to face, which I assumed would be as lethal as the ones that struck from the blue to kill me. With a lack of undo feature, this was stressful indeed. Not just that my character would die, but I'd have to retrace my steps with a lot of mouse-tinkering!
So I don't know if this was fair, or if it was intentional, but it worked well in the end. It's possible I missed things in the introduction and what you were going to the graveyard to do. But suffice it to say chickening out is a bad idea.
After the death-trap gauntlet, you wind up meeting spirits who need help. They're disappointed. They may even believe bizarre things. Talking with them is not so tough, and perhaps just having two options, one that feels contrary to the spirit of investigating stuff, cuts across what I already mentioned with the quick deaths. It feels either too easy or too tough to make the right choice.
But that's just the mechanics. The stories are rather good, with ghosts unable to quite remember things, or even believing wrong things, and there's a nice pet, too, because why not?
Even without any potential player deaths near the end (I didn't have the heart to check) it was a surprisingly harrrowing experience, but nothing to leave me permanently freaked out. Certainly I needed time between finishing and writing a review to think of things. There's a feeling of helping people who most say can't be helped, and how much can we do for them? And is it worth it? And if there is an afterlife, can we change, and how much? It's been asked before, but there's always a new way. Most times, a living person brings back a talisman to put a spirit at rest. Here, there's a bit more dialogue. As a dedicated source-checker, my not seeing how much you could've done immediately is a positive suggestion of immersion.
The final ghost you help does feel like a good one to end on, too, even though the progression to them feels like it has some holes. I didn't mind that jump much. Perhaps adding one more ghost would work here. You dealt with stuff and helped others deal with things finally. That's a good feeling and an unexpected one given the deaths early on, and it had more suspense than I thought it would. So GS is a bit bumpy, especially early on, but I enjoyed the fantastical elements combined with just trying to connect.