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Scars

by Olivia Dunlap

2016

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Number of Reviews: 2
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Great story, not much of a game, June 16, 2017
(Disclosure: I participated in EctoComp 2016.)

Scars is a low-key horror game set in an alternative present where (Spoiler - click to show)superiors have the right to punish their subordinates by scarring them.

I like this concept a lot. The game stands out from most EctoComp games I've played: there's no supernatural element, and no reliance on shock tactics. The story does a good job building up an unpleasant atmosphere, and there's no gratuitous gore. The horror is mundane, at least for our viewpoint character. I would love to read a longer work going into more detail about how this society works.

The writing is very good, if a bit unpolished due to time constraints. Around the middle of the story, it felt like it bogged down a little: a bit too many details that didn't really give me any useful information, a bit too much "telling". On the other hand, the ending is vague and enigmatic, leaving for the reader to infer what is between the lines.

The only major flaw is that the story is very linear. A long section of the opening has no interactivity other than pressing a link to see the next page. While it does get more interactive, that interactivity primarily expresses itself in letting the player choose a few different scenes that provide more information, rather than actually affecting the plot.

You can't even say that the second-person CYOA format makes the story more personally engaging. The protagonist is simultaneously too individualised to be the iconic blank slate PC, and too bland to be a compelling character. We're given a lot of details about her job and past events, but not much that made me identify with her.

These are minor quibbles. I still found it well worth a play-through, for the plot and writing.