Depression Quest

by Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey and Isaac Schankler, playable here.

The authors make it clear at the start that this game is an attempt to show the viewer what clinical depression might look and, more importantly, feel like. Like Privacy Game (below), the scenarios are deliberately vague, but there are enough important details to make each scenario realistic. The writing is careful and thoughtful; this extends also to the way this Twine-based game is designed: the way the choices are phrased illustrates the self-destructive or fruitless thought processes described in the text.

There are times when the PC’s internal monologue was alarmingly familiar for this player, despite the introductory warning that this game might hit uncomfortably close to home for some. It was all the more powerful for that. May be triggering.

Moon-shaped

By Jason Ermer.

In this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. You are Rosalind, the girl with the red cape, tasked to deliver food to your grandmother, who has been ill of late.

All is really not as it seems, though, and this is no walk in the, well, woods. What I liked about this were the refreshing twists on the story we’re so used to. The idea behind the game was creative enough, and, after playing, still remains ingenious. The story is mostly linear, though it contains several alternative endings, all determined by the endgame.

However, several things detracted from enjoyment of the game. There are alarmingly long stretches of text in the form of ‘visions’, which seems, above all, to be a rather lame attempt to force a lot of backstory into a few actions. This, unfortunately, occurred several times, especially toward the end of the story. Part of the moral of the story feels very heavily laid on in the beginning of the game, to the effect that it sounded very artificial. Yet nothing was said about this moral in the endgame.

The game also felt slightly glitchy at times. Some descriptions did not change even after performing actions which should have changed the object; some actions must be performed at specific locations to be able to progress with the game. The game could have been more robust if it were more flexible for the player, but this is really a small matter.

Don’t get me wrong: Moon-shaped is enjoyable in parts and does have an interesting story, but it was let down by the textwalls of backstory.

SPOILER under the cut

Continue reading “Moon-shaped”

Games for beginners

A few of my classmates just downloaded the Frotz interpreter for their phones but are sadly bereft of games to play. Recommendations welcome. So far my list has:

  • Bronze (forever and always; the tutorial mode saves a lot of trouble and frustration)
  • Photopia
  • The Dreamhold
  • Violet (but so much textwalls!)
  • Shade
  • Indigo (pity it can’t run on JFrotz/Frotz)
  • Glass
  • Afflicted
  • Counterfeit Monkey (again, not Z-machine, so can’t run on Android IF interpreters)
  • Dinner Bell
  • The Baron (essential for highlighting the emotional content of IF argh)
  • Nautilisia
  • Accuse (as an example of very short logic puzzles in the form of IF)
  • Little Blue Men (traditional, but story-driven and stuff)
  • MAYBE Ecdysis. Wasn’t one of my favourites, but it’s short and packs a decent punch. Perhaps in that note, Fish Bowl might also count.

Recommendations?