Two small hypertext games

First up, Relic, by Caelyn Sandel (Twine; IFDB; play here)

Set in Sandel’s New Washington setting, Orianna, a hunter of antiques, chances upon a rare find – but Silas, her housemate and colleague, is sceptical. But soon, strange things start happening.

Relic is a fine psychological horror short story with a big twist at the end. Sandel’s writing is matter-of-fact, practical, but she has a great attention for detail and a fine grasp of pace. Although Relic is unrelentingly linear, its format as a Twine game instead of a piece of conventional linear writing allows each scene to be presented in isolation. It isn’t the perfect piece to demonstrate the advantages of dynamic fiction or a game format to deliver a linear story, but Relic is a fine example of Sandel’s writing prowess.

Next, A Gift for Mother by Natalie Zed (Texture; IFDB; play here)

This was made in the newly released platform Texture, created by Juhana Leinonen and Jim Munroe. This system enables players to drag and drop verbs, creating hypertext games which are uniquely suited for mobile devices. The system is still in alpha/beta, having been released late last year, but is available for tinkering ( (caution: the site stores stories within your browser’s local memory – there doesn’t yet seem to be a way to download the story format, only the resulting HTML.)

Here, Zed uses the different verbs as a means for creating story branches. You are a commissary of Mother, gathering data from within your host. You can sense your host’s vital signs, but, likewise, your every movement is detectible to your host. The more data you collect, the more you risk detection… and expulsion.

A Gift for Mother uses an elegant dichotomy to create branching, though I felt it didn’t quite bring out the full possibilities of Texture. It would have been great if the same verb could have applied to multiple objects, but as it stands, A Gift for Mother is a striking story written from a parasite’s point of view.


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