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About the StorySomething is bothering Hana. Can you work out what it is? Take the part of four important people in her life and guide their conversations. After each scene, peek at Hana's journal and find out how she felt about the things you said.
Nominee, Best Individual NPC - 2015 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 7
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Altgames are hard to write, as it is so completely easy to step over one of the many intricate narrow lines and overdo pathos, or reduce a situation to complete absurdity. Absurdity can work in a game's favor, but is its own delicate balancing act.
Hana Feels sidesteps much standard awkwardness with solid, honest writing, and by not casting the reader as the protagonist. Instead, the reader has several conversations with Hana, reacting as different people in her life. Hana then spells out her own reaction to the encounter in her journal based on the choices made.
I was moved, and I was compelled to replay four times to get the best ending. The thing I learned is (Spoiler - click to show)sometimes the worst thing you can do for a person in turmoil is to actively try to solve their problem for them. Listening without judgement is often the best course of action. I found the friend very hard to roleplay because there isn't a way for her not to get angry and push Hana too hard. (Game-wise, it seems you need to play the previous conversations leading up to this one well enough so Hana has enough positive reinforcement not to take the bad experience so poorly.)
Often a person is too close to another person to act successfully as their pseudo psychiatrist, and accepting that one can not always be a white knight is hard for any friend to swallow.
The writing is efficient and the storytelling has enough of an original twist to stand out and catch the eye. We are not the protagonist, we are her entourage and we have to keep her afloat. This is what makes it so heartbreaking to play Hana Feels. You get the idea very early on that she is on the verge of collapse and you have to keep her alive. And even when you feel like you are helping her, you know very well, deep inside, that you are not going to save her.
Hana is a waitress. I imagine as a waitress she may have found herself losing balance and wobbling around to prevent the glass on her trail from falling over. This is how you feel when you play this game - Hana is somewhere unbalanced on a trail and you have to walk around to keep her from falling.
I talk about her like she is a real person, which says a lot about how carefully she was crafted and written.
Years ago I read one of my favourite books, "Valis" by Philip K. Dick, and was startled about that paragraph he wrote about being suicidal and calling a helpline, receiving professional help which was so much better than the shitty help he gave to a friend who eventually committed suicide. This saved me because if I had never read that in "Valis", I probably would have never called a help line and get professional help. The premise of Hana Feels is that she calls a help line. And this is exactly how it feels, for the caller and for the operator.
In "Valis" again, the author regrets he advised his friend not to kill herself to avoid making him sad. He learnt later of such a terrible idea it was to tell her to live for others. In Hana Feels, you are given the option at some point to give that exact same advice to Hana. I remembered "Valis" and avoided that trap. The game offers three different endings. I want to believe I gave Hana the best ending possible. I am tempted to try the game again and see a different ending, but I just do not feel like hurting her. I just see no pleasure in tormenting a fictional character when being nice had made me feel so good.
Just a few lines and clicks and there you are, feeling for her. Interactivity is such a wonderful tool to tell stories... Hana Feels let me convinced of this. I am done with stupor, I will write again. Thank you Hana.
I wish the author gave us more hints about what becomes of her. Not a full resolution as this is not a fairy tale with a happy ending. But with the deep level we are touched by Hana, it feels a bit wasted to abandon her so abruptly.
Many things to say about this little game, right?
Hana Feels is just that immersive. A long treatise on the topic would never reach anyone half as much as this game. Everything lies in the shadows of the conversations between Hana and the others: the place where she lives and work, the room where the support group meets, the factory where the old guy worked. Characters have a voice. Bigger parts of the life of characters are suggested to you. Little bits and pieces of life stories are intertwined with the main storyline, and you will patch them together to get the whole picture.
What a brilliant little thing is Hana Feels. Thanks.
Being an actual government commissioned (?) piece for helping folks with these sort of troubles, I'd have to say it worked for me. Not just in understanding someone with such issues in the future, but I learnt a lot about communicating with everyone in general.
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