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About the Story
Yet another day is ending. Yet another day of dazzling bystanders with your spectacular illusions, all for a fistful of coins. Now it's time to grab a bite and find a place to sleep, all alone in the big city. But little did you know that tonight, things are about to go a little... haywire.
36th Place - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Our protagonist is a street illusionist, but one whose illusionism is true magic: she can really make people see things that donít exist or not see things that do. Itís not entirely clear (a) how she gets away with this in the world of ubiquitous smartphones, given that her illusions probably donít show up on film, and (b) why she is living in abject poverty, given the strength of her powers. But living in abject poverty she is, and one of the first choices offered by the game is whether we should try to get some fast food or illusion ourselves into a posh restaurant.
Doing the latter leads to (Spoiler - click to show)a near disaster, as we apparently manage to kill and then resurrect everyone. Or maybe this was an illusion we played on ourselves? We then meet a girl who we can either trust, in which case we learn that she is a superhero with the powers of telekinesis and so are we, or we meet an insane killer who is very resistant to our illusions, in which case we learn that we are a superhero with the power to shoot lightning bolts. The narrative isnít very coherent either on one or on multiple playthroughs, and I was left wondering what the point of the story really was.
Haywire is well-written and I enjoyed my time with it, but it feels like a small fragment of what should have been a much larger story.
This game could have been more accessible and/or popular with some design changes. It suffers strongly from ďTime CaveĒ effect. Instead of having an overarching narrative, itís made of a dozen or more distinct threads with very little in common. It branches wildly.
Each playthrough is, to me, a 3-star game. But the whole story is pretty cool. I discovered stuff on my 4th and 5th playthroughs that changes the whole story (although I am ever an enemy to slow-text in IF games ).
I could see this game having been made slightly more coherent, with some of the best scenes always occurring.
But this could all be down to authorís choice. Did the author want most of the game to be hidden away as a reward for the careful reader? Thatís a valid design choice, limiting the number of people who enjoy the game but increasing the joy in those who do. Hanon Ondricek has many games in that style in the past, but heís now done stuff in many styles.
Anyway, this is a pretty cool superhero story.
Haywire is a short (10 min. or so) game that invites multiple playthroughs. You play as Hayley Weir, also known as "Haywire," a homeless young woman. Hayley has some special abilities: She can (Spoiler - click to show)read people's minds and force them to see what she wants them to see. Or not see, as the case may be - Hayley can effectively render herself invisible. When the story begins she has only been using her powers to entertain tourists for pocket change.
There are lots of ways a story like this could go. Haywire has an edge to it, which worked for me. For example, here's an early passage from the game reflecting on Hayley's abilities:
(Spoiler - click to show)You could probably blackmail people, but blackmailers usually end up in the gutter with a bullet in the head or their head bashed in with a bat. No thanks.
Street magic is a lot more fun. And, most days, you earn enough to avoid starving.
Especially on the first few playthroughs, the writing and story pulled me in, and I wanted to find out what happens to Hayley. I also enjoyed the occasional pop culture nods, the references to (Spoiler - click to show)Simon and Garfunkel, Star Wars, and James Bond. All in all, I played through several times, finding four different endings. I suspect there are more.
I do think the writing could have been a little tighter in places, but (as I said earlier) the edgy tone of the writing worked for me overall.
My only other critique of Haywire is that I would have liked to have seen more options for how Hayley's story ends, as well as longer narrative arcs. Which is another way of saying that I was invested in the story and would have liked more game to play!
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