IFComp 2015: Crossroads, by Cat Manning

My first game of the Interactive Fiction Competition! Let’s get this show on the road.

Blurb: They say it’s death to seek the witch. For you, it’s worth the risk. Venture in to the forest in search of relief, but remember that magic is rarely straightforward.

A short psychological game about self-knowledge and its price. Content warning: blood, self-harm, suicidal ideation, violence, death.

System: Twine

The work as a whole feels a bit overwrought and far too fond of dramatic pauses. There’s a particular style of game which seems like it used to come out once per competition, brimming with purple prose and surreal angst. This feels like a somewhat more thoughtfully crafted iteration of the same sort of thing, with nebulous guilt and angst about some ill-described pre-narrative development. This sort of vagueness can work, and can impart a sense of mystery, but I found it, in this particular work, mostly irritating, for reasons I couldn’t entirely articulate. At the end of the day an awful lot of the prompts felt linear, or like they were offering me either meaningless or uninformed choices, and I didn’t get a sense of any sort of agency in the story, for some reason. It is possible that the problem here is me, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this leaves a lot of folks cold for similar reasons.

Technically it’s a pretty sound work, although I feel like the extremely long pauses were a misstep (the short beats are OK). the prose as a whole feels a bit overwrought, as I said, but there are some nice touches with the hyperlinks which are mere modifications on the existing text. It seems like a lot of folks are using Twine for psychological exploration, but I’m not sure this one hit the right style or structure.

Rating: 6

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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