Map of Fahlstaff

By Ian Hinck. (Twine; IFDB; play here)

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(Cover art: a blocky building silhouetted against a golden sunset)

Fahlstaff is a mysterious town, once a logging town, but now it boasts a vibrant arts scene and other natural attractions. Tour through this strange place with this map!

Map of Fahlstaff is written like a promotional leaflet, and has no real plot or goals. Instead, it is mostly about exploration. There are snippets alluding to the town’s history and references to rumours. The writing has a distinctively ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ air – the commonplace mixes with news of the mysterious and the subtly ominous – as below:

One account described the cabin as “really quite lovely despite the omnipresent feeling of dread.”

There is never really anything malevolent beyond that vague sense of dread, though, giving the game a general feeling of benign detachment. There are, however, some narrative events which are triggered by the one choice you make right at the beginning of the game, which made the game feel more like something living and active under your hands, rather than just something to be poked at.

The game is also prettily designed, with photographic backgrounds for each scene, though this sometimes made the text hard to read.

The tone fluctuates between sombre, PSA-style (again, like Night Vale) and conversational; I would have loved if the tone was a bit more consistent. Nevertheless, on the whole Fahlstaff is quite the charming town.

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