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About the Story
I train to fight angels in a monastery by the sea.
9th Place overall; 2nd Place, Miss Congeniality Award - 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2013)
Nominee, Best Game; Winner, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Implementation - 2013 XYZZY Awards
Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling
Their Angelical Understanding is a choice-based interactive fantasy story, and sometimes interactive poem, about being hurt and about how we respond to that hurt.
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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
First Porpentine game for me, so I was kinda eager to see why people were talking about her games. And it went great!
The game isn't too long, about half an hour. There's a lot of surreal elements in it, which I thought were brilliant: it made the whole experience very powerful and vivid. The prose feels raw and emotional, which I understand seems to be Porpentine's writing style; it works great here, because the game focuses on trauma and its consequences, and it really makes you feel what the character feels. Sometimes there's weird details thrown in, and they never fail to make the text more evocative. Sound and animations are sometimes used to complement the atmosphere, and I thought it worked well when they were used.
Also, gameplay is very cleverly used to convey emotions (that bit where (Spoiler - click to show)you just can't stop crushing the angel was absolutely brilliant). Finally, I found the final sequence very smart and powerful ((Spoiler - click to show)the game where you must be the last one bleeding, so to speak - it felt like a weird cross between Marienbad and Chuck Palahniuk).
There were also a few flaws in the game; for instance, it feels kind of disjointed, and I'm not sure I understood how everything fit together in the end ((Spoiler - click to show)the basement in the first location with the bottles containing your faces is interesting imagery, but I still don't really see the connection to what I felt was the main theme of the game). Also, Porpentine's distinctive style, of raw, no-bullshit sentences and emotions, means that sometimes it feels a bit sore or like it's missing its target and fails to evoke anything to you, or evokes the wrong thing - I guess it's a risk to take. (One of the things that really didn't work for me is (Spoiler - click to show)the use of the term "your nemesis" in the final sequence: in my head, this particular word feels overly dramatic, and I associate it with James Bond villains - I get that the intent was to stress that this character was absolute evil to you, but at that point I was so into the story that I didn't need a reminder that he was evil: a simple "him" or "the bastard" would have been more effective than "nemesis", which I felt made the prose go a bit over-the-top).
But anyway, this game worked very well for me for most of the things it attempted to do, and is really a very good and powerful game.
On to Howling Dogs!
Porpentine reverses the archetypical character of angel in an evil one, and mixes it with creepy details (Spoiler - click to show)(the face in the bottle, the hands on the cottage) to distill anguish in player's mind.
Once this done, she unveils in a dream sequence the true meaning of the game (Spoiler - click to show)(a metaphor for a child abuse) and keeps then the emotion growing until the amazing end (Spoiler - click to show)(a bloody tile duel).
Add some brilliant uses of Twine devices, as words collapsing, and you get, indeed, another masterpiece from Porpentine.
This game is a literary masterpiece, just as The Scream is a art masterpiece. Also like the Scream, it conveys strong negative emotions and unease.
The game contains many dark themes, including abuse, death, self-abuse, etc. The game includes strong profanity at key moments to convey depth of emotion.
The game is fascinating to play. Many of Porpentine's game give you the same visceral feel, but the amount of carnage and sexual violence varies, from Cyberqueen on the bad end to Howling Dogs and With Those We Love Alive on the other. This game falls in the middle, more towards the less gruesome side.
A story that will stick with you. Also, good implementation of special text effects, player input, exploration and inventory management, and multiple, endings involving moral choices.
Not a happy game, but a meaningful game.
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