Academic Pursuits (As Opposed To Regular Pursuits)
By ruqiyah (IFDB)
This game is ostensibly about unpacking and furnishing your new office. It has a simple mechanic, but has enough intriguing details to make it more than an (ahem) academic exercise. To tell more would probably be spoilers…!
If you liked this, Bruno Dias’s New Year’s game Not All Things Make it Across should scratch the same itch. Unpacking, after all, is a liminal space sort of activity – marking a transition from one location to another, and in this case one stage of life to another.
By Ed Nobody (IFDB). CW for suicide.
Seeking a cure for chronic pain, you meet a dying man in a strange house surrounded by strange creatures.
Foreboding from the start, it uses the “creepy country house” setting to good effect. The landscape echoes the story. The style is what I’ll describe as baroque, partly due to some turns of phrase which suggest the author’s first language is not English.
The branching tends to be lawnmowery, where redundant choices dead-end and lead back to the main path. Some choices are obviously signposted, and I would have liked more consistency in the formatting – especially since some choices that result in a premature ending are not signalled as such. What makes it more frustrating is the sheer speed at which the text is revealed. Mathbrush’s review on IFDB suggests that this is incredibly deliberate, yet something which even the author couldn’t stand on repeated playthroughs…
Another thing that struck me, in the time waiting for text to appear: the player’s main motivation appears to be a mystical curse, but in most aspects is chronic pain – a relatively common experience. Sans an obvious supernatural cause, I had to wonder why it warranted this treatment in the text.