Lore Distance Relationship

by Naomi "Bez" Norbez profile

2020

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Number of Reviews: 5
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Made me nostalgic for experiences I never had, October 28, 2020
by autumnc
Related reviews: ifcomp 2020

Immediately after starting the game, I was reminded of Secret Little Haven, another game about internet-mediated relationships, self-discovery, and fandom. I was a little disappointed that this game did not have the richly implemented fake internet GUI. Lore Distance Relationships is more of a visual novel, with interactivity only when selecting dialogue options in chat scenes, and only screenshots of the Ruffians website. Nevertheless, the game's story carried it through. It was consistently engaging, and I came to care for the characters. I really appreciated the uplifting ending.

The story follows the protagonistís life, from age 8, in 2001, to age 17, in 2010, with each year being a new chapter. It takes place mostly as text conversations on Ruffians, a neopets-like website, between the protagonist StaircaseHaven14, and BusyAsABee, another user. They start out by roleplaying as their Ruffians, and eventually develop a deep friendship and might even fall in love as they grow up. The conversations felt authentic to me for the most part; maybe some of the early chats were too precocious for 9 or 10-year-olds, but overall it felt right. They felt like real people and real friends. The role-play segments were great. I liked that both characters had their typing quirks; Bee typed using all lower-case with messy punctuation and emojis, while Stair used mostly correct capitalization and punctuation and generally only used emoji in response to Bee.

In terms of structure, it seems mostly linear, but there are a lot of choices where you can choose for Stair to avoid or ignore Bee. I donít know if these choices end up affecting the outcome, or if there are ďbad endsĒ where Stair and Bee never get together. There are also some timed pauses, which I usually find annoying, but here, I feel like they worked in conveying the uncertainty and nervousness experienced by the characters. There is sound and music; the sound consists mostly of keyboard and mouse sounds, while music plays during the roleplay segments. The sound effects and some of the graphics changed as technology advanced from 2001 to 2010. This was a cool effect but I got a burst of anxiety when I heard the skype sound.

Not necessarily a major spoiler, but: (Spoiler - click to show)Another big similarity with Secret Little Haven is that the protagonist is a trans girl, with an abusive parent, who gradually discovers her identity over the course of the story. It was fairly obvious from the start that the plot was going in this direction, but I still enjoyed the buildup. We donít see as much of the protagonistís life and background in this game, but thereís a lot we can infer from her conversations. By contrast, we don't know as much about Bee. She just seems so incredibly nice with an incredibly loving and nice father; it almost seems unreal when contrasted with Stair.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the story. I was on Neopets during the game's timeline but never got into the community. Now I wish I had...