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About the StoryThe thing about sinking is: the sea is not a void. If you're sinking, you're displacing something.
A Grand Guignol entry for ECTOCOMP 2016
2nd Place, Le Grand Guignol - EctoComp 2016
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Number of Reviews: 2
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Right. Yeah. The whole island was sinking, really. I say island because that's the official term, but if we're being honest it was more like a pretentious sandbar.
On a house on this sinking island, you perform sittings to uncover memories and, by so doing, figure out what went on in the house. Four candles flicker in the background of your choices, each one going out as you perform a sitting.
In this self-described "barroom back fable", the narrator is cynical, jaded. I got the sense that they, like the titular house, has put their glory days behind them, though having never played into cheap dreams peddled by cons,
You can perform tasks in roughly any order, but you have to uncover all available bits of memory to really figure out what's at the heart of this house. Not to give away the plot, but what's happening in the sinking house reflects the island itself: a place that free market forces took over, yet was chewed up and discarded when it lost its value.
Bruno's writing belies a keen eye for detail. The house's fallen state shows through its faded, garish fittings; the hypocrisy of the promises that were sold along with the house, in its sterility. Four Sittings is a satisfying, polished tale of urban magic, with the same sort of seriousness as, say, American Gods.
The voice of the main protagonist/narrator is strong and realistic; I could imagine this man talking to me in a dark bar. Little details complete his character--he doesn't just chain smoke, he makes a snide comment about vaping, too.
The house is navigated by clicking text links--room to room--and I quickly made a mental map in my head which looked an awful lot like the small Cape Cods and saltboxes of the coastal towns from my home state.
The ending is perfect: as far as I can tell, you have two choices, and it is worth playing a second time to experience both of them. There are other small choices throughout, but most of them function more as "which to do first", although a few conversational options are binary.
Highly recommended. I would love some appropriate audio in the background too, although I recognize that I'm getting greedy as the overall quality of Twine-like games improves. I imagine the quiet clink of glasses and low murmurs, the jukebox of a dive bar...
My only complaint is the candle UI, as it was; you use candles to communicate with the dead, and the game cleverly displays your candles at the bottom of the interface. I may have been wrong, but I had the sense that my candles were limited, and could be used up prematurely; it would be nice to have some way to know that this isn't the case, as it would remove a bit of, I think, unintended tension from the experience.
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For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible stories of 2016 by MathBrush
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This is version 2 of this page, edited by Bruno Dias on 31 October 2016 at 7:13pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item