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About the Story
A samurai explores a haunted shrine.
Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling
Even though the piece is quite short, there is room enough in Groover’s story for several surprises. A lovely, eerie meditation on what is truly monstrous.
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Was das Spiel interessant macht, ist das Setting im historischen Japan des 16. Jahrhunderts (Feudalzeit, Sengoku Periode). Der Autor integriert auf gelungene Weise japanische Begriffe und zitiert japanische Schriftsteller in einer für die Geschichte adaptierten Form. Zugleich erzählt er den historischen Kontext der im Spiel erwähnten Figuren.
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The writing in verse enforces a certain rhythm to the story and greatly eases the constant breaking of time and continuity it does – descriptions of immediate objects flow in and out of flashbacks. This is perhaps even gentler than Groover’s past work in terms of accomodating people who are not accustomed to the parser; almost every interaction is explicitly prompted by the game.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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For me, Chandler Groover might be one of the best prose stylists in IF today. And Fuwa Bansaku is no exception, illustrating another tool in the author's already formidable toolbag.
Fuwa Bansaku, a telling of how the titular samurai undertakes a quest from his emperor to investigate a haunted temple, and paying homage to traditional Japanese poetic form and structure, is a lovely piece of work. Mechanically, it is simple. Advance, return and examine provide all the entry commands needed to advance the story and uncover additional player commands that deliver the back story. And this works extremely well. It is an entirely accessible piece of parser IF.
In what it aspires to, it achieves. It is an elegant, clever and innovative work of literary fiction. I urge everyone to spend the time to engage with it.
(Spoiler - click to show)If I have a criticism, it is that I would have liked the second half of the story to have bifurcated. Could I have made a choice that would have altered the ending?
Unlike a previous reviewer, I believe that the parser format, and the requirement to actually type a command, interacting with the text physically gives weight, and forces the player to focus on the prose. In a link format, where the eye is draw to the options before the prose is fully internalised, this story would have suffered. This prose needs to be savoured.
Much kudos to Sub-Q also for bringing works like this to a wider audience. More, please.
Or almost it, as the prose is pretty economic and the game very short.
I have mixed feelings about this one. The story and setting are as fascinating as any japanese youkai stories, the writing goes through pains to emulate that archaic japanese narrative style. Thumbs up.
However, I fear Inform was not the right tool here: this clearly is a fairly linear twine game in disguise. The action is simply typing in the "advance" link or typing the "examine thing" links. There're no puzzles but the puzzling short story. So, the interaction is pretty much just a glorified "next paragraph, please" link, like much interactive fiction these days.
I don't want to bash it because I see good will here and I liked the story. Go read it and have a blast...
This short, haunting piece requires the reader to advance (a) or retreat (r), with a variety of other actions suggested after you look at or examine the scenery. It's very linear, but like much great character-driven interactive fiction, the linearity feels natural as you discover your character and what their limitations and compulsions are.
Interspersed throughout the work are fragments of poetry from Basho, Kikaku, and other 17th-century poets. The end result is a haunting, elegiac work, telling a stylized version of the semi-historical story of Fuwa Bansaku, a 16th-century samurai.
Near the end, the work features a ukiyo-e print by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, a 19th-century japanese woodblock printer; this famous image from his series, 100 Ghost Stories of China and Japan, seems to be the inspiration for this short and dramatic ekphrastic piece.
This is a beautiful use of the format and a moving, haunting piece, which should inspire the reader to learn more about Yoshitoshi, the poets, and of course, Fuwa Bansaku. Very lovely.
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