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.

Horse Master

horse master_iconBy Tom McHenry.

Playable at: http://noncanon.com/HorseMaster.html

As the game itself states: you have trained your whole life for this moment: you will be a Horse Master. And so your journey starts, through buying a horse and training it and, yes, even naming it.

The game starts out light-hearted, but things quickly turn dark. The PC’s commentary swings between mad hope and sheer depression. At one point, I was unsure whether I should actually hope for the best for the PC, or whether it would all come to nought.

It’s an emotionally taxing and compelling game. (SPOILERS BELOW) Continue reading “Horse Master”

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)

Endling

The time and data storage are limited. I cannot leave you comprehensive records of everything destroyed by time. Instead, I have tried to open your eyes to the gravity of what you have lost, so you can build great new things to lose.

Exams are largely over. I am catching up with unplayed IF and what a pleasure it is.

This is from Endling by Kazuki Mishima.

At first it seems like it doesn’t work. “Load configuration file?” Well, okay, once I figured out how to start a game, it seemed like a database of little factoids, seemingly unrelated to each other. Then there were the notes by the author… And the line between what was really from the author and what was from the narrator blurred.

Even though there is no story in the traditional sense of the word, even though it basically is a bunch of factoids, it was still oddly moving.