Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling

Cover art for Counterfeit MonkeyAnglophone Atlantis has been an independent nation since an April day in 1822, when a well-aimed shot from their depluralizing cannon reduced the British colonizing fleet to one ship.

Since then, Atlantis has been the world’s greatest center for linguistic manipulation, designing letter inserters, word synthesizers, the diminutive affixer, and a host of other tools for converting one thing to another. Inventors worldwide pay heavily for that technology, which is where a smuggler and industrial espionage agent such as yourself can really clean up.

Unfortunately, the Bureau of Orthography has taken a serious interest in your activities lately. Your face has been recorded and your cover is blown.

Your remaining assets: about eight more hours of a national holiday that’s spreading the police thin; the most inconvenient damn disguise you’ve ever worn in your life; and one full-alphabet letter remover.

Good luck getting off the island.

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Please Pass the Milk Please

By ‘Adri’. An interactive snack.

This is an amusing, small game from the Apollo 18+20 IF tribute album.

Your brother Sam is sitting across from you.

On the table are a carton of milk, a plate of brownies, and two cups.

The title suggests that what you need to do is to pass the milk. But that’s not the only thing you can do!

Oddly fun; worthy as a short diversion. There are a few references to some other games, including:

>xyzzy

A hollow voice says, “Milk: it does a body good.”

PeasantTech: playing in progress

Your unconscious mind flutters from setting to setting, mashing themes together into a bizarre pastiche.
A figure sits down and begins sculpting a pile of mud. The being’s fingers deftly create a human form, but it all sort of slops apart into an incoherent mess. Perhaps mud isn’t the best medium for this. The figure gets up and walks away, leaving you behind. You stand up, seeing the world around you, forlorn…
You are a Fief Lord, dressed in +5 silks, your face a mess of scars from years of war and acne. You surround yourself with piles of precious meat coins and an array of lascivious Libidomancers. Nothing can stand in the way of your feudal glory.
Yellow eyes. The pupils are uncanny ovals, incapable of human emotion. They are alien, wholly Other, but they see you. They see into you. You are drenched in sweat and filth under their penetrating gaze.
But one of their black, ovaloid pupils erupts into a bright light, washing over you. It beckons you, inviting you to the ruminant consciousness.

Sounds exciting! From PeasantTech.

Shade

by Andrew Plotkin.

Another critically acclaimed game!

As the help text suggests, this is a one-room game set in the PC’s apartment. Sounds unremarkable! As the PC, you’re all set and ready to leave for Death Valley for some art festival. You’re all packed, just waiting for the taxi when… where are your tickets?

Language: Nothing much to say. There is purposeful use of background ‘props’ such as furniture, possibly symbolic, though I haven’t quite wrapped my head around that yet.

Plot: Soon after finding the tickets, the story takes a surreal turn. The PC’s cool, almost detached narration belies the growing weirdness of the whole situation as the room morphs into something almost unrecognisable. The baffling ending may confuse some, but Shade is one of those games which you have to play more than once to fully understand.

Mechanics: Nothing remarkable. There is a kind of hints system, or at least a list of ‘things you have to do to progress’ in the form of a changing to-do list, also a sly hint about hint systems in the form of the help text.

The Baron

by Victor Gijsbers

Generally, I hesitate to review games which have already recieved plenty of acclaim and have been reviewed by much more able and experienced people than I am (for example, The Game Formerly Known as the Game with a Hidden Nazi Mode, if I haven’t gotten the name wrong), but The Baron was amazing.

The PC is the father of Maartje, who has been kidnapped by an evil baron. This is not an interactive fiction game per se, since it is not so much about solving puzzles and exploring foreign lands and arming yourself, but about the choices you make.

Language: At first it seems straightforward, but small details, carefully highlighted, make the mood darker and more complex.

Plot: As mentioned, this is not so much an adventure game as an exploration into human darkness. And there is a startling, shocking, brilliant twist near the end and it gets more and more interesting from there- comparable to the twist in 9:05 by Adam Cadre.

Mechanics: This game switches between normal command input to multiple-choice styles (where you choose from a list of options) during dialogue; the player’s choices influence the eventual mood and flavour of the game but not the eventual outcome.

(it lives up to the promised misery of fictional characters)

(it is really good in a mindbending sort of way)

The Hour

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 11.22.35 AM

This SN game stretches the platform and, I felt, uses the platform in a very interesting way.The premise was intriguing enough: you are stuck in one hour of your life, endlessly revisited and relived.

Language: This game makes use of terse, short, conversational sentences. In one part, there is barely any text, just pictures. Certainly an unusual and unique use of the icons in Storynexus, and I thought it was quite well done too.

Plot: As the game is not yet complete, it would be unfair to review the game based on what I saw.

Mechanics: Very well-considered in the sequence of cards presented to the player, which leads the player through not more than a few threads at a time. It takes some meticulous tweaking of the cards and thinking through to make SN games like this.