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About the StoryA short game about ignorance, defiance, and freedom—or: self-knowledge, acquiescence, and fate. Takes about 15 minutes to play.
There are two significantly-divergent endings, but replays are intentionally discouraged.
Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2016
I’m not a fan of the practice of “playing” text, a convention seemingly beloved by a lot of Japanese games: they never play at the speed that’s comfortable for me to read. But the typewriter sounds had the effect of making it easier to read and follow, at least the first time around. They’re pretty effective at setting the mood, too, and if there’s one thing “Ms Lojka” does well, it’s the mood. Immersion. The sound effects and the artwork are all spot-on, with the possible exception of the cheesy “Yay!” when the narrator begins the section on their love for New York. Still, the fact I can point out that one very specific thing as an exception should be an indication of how seamless and coherent the rest of it is.
Speaking of coherency … our narrator isn’t exactly the most coherent. Or, more to the point, they’re not the most reliable. I think I first realised this when they began a wildly erroneous account of who Rasputin was. As the story progresses, our narrator’s grip on reality seems to weaken. Backspacing begins to appear on the playing of the text–and now the reason for that practice becomes apparent. It’s not merely a convention: it’s part of the performance. By the end, it’s not entirely clear who our narrator is, or what their relationship might be to Ms Lojka (if she even exists) and the tower. There is a sense of something unspeakable at the heart of the mystery; and though we do realise that much, the true nature of it is left to the fertile fields of our imagination rather than explicitly described. It is, I think, this appeal to the unknown that fuels the story’s horror.
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Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling
Ms. Lojka is a horror Twine about a beastly supernatural killer in New York City, with some references to Babel and Rasputin, backed by some (I thought) rather effective illustrations, as well as whispery sound effects and music. Meanwhile, the text appears on the screen as though typed. I typically find that effect annoying and slow, and Ms. Lojka was not quite an exception, but it does use the interesting conceit that the narrator’s typing becomes more error-prone as the story goes on and they become less stable. At the end, it wound up in a loop of repeating text that I couldn’t seem to stop, which was narratively appropriate, so I assume that is the intended ending; but it’s just possible there’s an alternative outcome.
I didn’t respond as much to the content as to the presentational effort. Ms. Lojka mingles hints of mental illness and supernatural or mystical powers, and it finds some creepy images to express those ideas, but ultimately felt like a combination of fairly standard tropes to me.
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Wade's Important Astrolab
My response to this game was all over the place, though I must frame this statement in a positive arch where I would say that if you like morbid intrigue, I recommend Ms. Lojka. It also has great audiovisual and aesthetic strength of the kind that makes me say it is the most expensive-looking (in a Hollywood sense) Twine I have encountered.
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|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 2
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Ms. Lojka or: In Despair to Will to Be Oneself is an experience. It's an experience I recommend to those who are up for it. I don't know how much agency I had in directing the outcome of the story — I suspect that I had little to no agency, that this was linear, that the story was being told to me. This would normally be an issue for me, but it wasn't here. Here, the sounds wash over you and the art grabs you (and sometimes surprises you) and you feel a bit like you're in a David Lynch film, and you're never entirely certain if you want to be there... but you can't escape and you can't look away, so you just keep with it.
People are going to remark on the type-writer effect, and probably not in complimentary terms. But the type-writer effect is necessary. It's part of the experience on a couple of fronts, and it wouldn't have the same impact were it not present throughout. So just accept that and accept the author's pacing. Be open to the experience.
Because that's what this is. It's an experience. The art is fantastic and the audio is perfect and the voice is casual enough to feel comfortable with you — especially when it's making you uncomfortable. Even the way linked text is slowly revealed after you've had a moment to digest the words in front of you is artful.
Play this in a dark room, full screen, at night.
I would give this 4.5 stars if I could, but I can't, and 4 stars seems too low. So I'm giving it a 5. On a scale of 1-10 I would give it a 9, based on my interactive fiction rating methods.
However, I found myself frustrated by the slow typewriter effect. I frequently wanted to skip ahead. The only time I found it effective was at the very end.
The story is disjointed and odd. At first, I didn't like it, but it began to gel together the further along it went. It was a bit over the top at times, but it succeeded in the very end of keeping me intrigued and invested.
I'm giving it a star for polish, a star for descriptive writing, and a star for emotional impact.
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