All Alone

by Ian Finley.

You are all alone in Harvey’s apartment. It is small and messy; Harvey’s still entrenched in his bachelor habits. It is raining. The news is on: the ‘Slicer Killer’, who has young women living alone as his prey, has claimed another victim. You hear this on the news.

There is a fair attempt at creating a dark, foreboding atmosphere, à la Shade, but it was difficult for the player to feel a real sense of dread. The suggestion that the PC is in danger is merely implied, so this player did not get a sense of urgency.

One grouse I had with this game was the lack of backstory, which is vital to creating a sense of threat as the player hears about the news. The author used the TV to deliver key story elements- the conflict- which can either be considered lazy or ingenious, but this player wished he could have delivered a richer background using other details, because as it stands, the PC knows a lot more about Harvey (whoever he is) than… herself? himself? itself???

The main problem I had was with the gameplay. The player need not make any decisions and does not need to do anything significant to advance the story. This robs the player of a sense of agency and gives him/her no real stake in playing the game. Why else should I continue playing if the ending will happen to me anyway?

Without a sense of agency, the player has little motivation to continue playing the game, let alone see it to its end. This game could have done much, much better.

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