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About the StoryDaniel Riviera lives on an Earth very different from our own, populated by both aliens and humans. A. A. Arthur is one of those aliens, a popular blogger and adviser for all of the planet's residents. Every day, he answers questions that stream in from the thousands who follow him— and, occasionally, from the hundreds who hate him. However, he has been injured, and has hired Riviera to assist in answering the user's questions
Walking in Riviera's shoes, the player's job is simple: Arthur tells you what advice to answer with, and you write it as he says.
Or do you?
43rd Place - 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2015)
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Number of Reviews: 3
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The game's central dilemma arises from the fact that the speaker disagrees with the alien's advice and wants to secretly edit the column. Are you, as the player, going to record the dictations faithfully, or are you going to tamper with them?
This seems to be a much greater dilemma for the game's author than it was for me, because I was prepared to record the dictations 100% correctly. That's what I was hired to do. I'm serving as a transcriptionist. I don't see an ethical problem.
Perhaps in a higher stakes situation it would have been different. A general gives the command to engage some military target, and you as the messenger who will deliver the command have reason to try to change it. But that wasn't the case here. The alien might have been giving bad advice on his blog (or he might not have been), but it wasn't any worse than you see on many blogs in real life.
It did occur to me that this alien was more influential than a normal blogger, and the sci-fi setting could have been implying that his columns had telepathic sway over the populace, but these were only thoughts that I had about how the game could have gone. I saw nothing in the story to indicate anything like this during my playthrough. Mainly, the protagonist just disagreed with the alien a whole lot (we're told this but not given many examples why), and that's meant to be motivation enough to sabotage the column.
With more development and more at stake, the main concept about tweaking a transcript to serve another purpose could make for a compelling interactive story. There's just not enough conflict in this game right now.
The story casts you as the "speaker" for a paralyzed alien who holds an advice column; the thing is, you don't always agree with the advice, and you're in a position to publish whatever you want, hence choices show up. The choices you can think of are presented, and the game handles them gracefully, although some paths quickly merge with other similar ones.
One think that I really liked was what happens if you disobey: it's not that he fires you or sues you, it's that (Spoiler - click to show)his fans on the internet will try to track you down; I felt like this was a very interesting consequence, and it filled me with more dread than a hypothetical "i'll sue you in galactic court": we all know how (Spoiler - click to show)ruthless internet mobs and their pitchforks can get.
One thing that i didn't really understand was why the story was told with aliens instead of humans; was it to avoid presenting as controversial statements that some could get behind (like, if the story was about a paralyzed glenn beck?), or was it to make it a metaphor of something? I must admit that in retrospect i'm wondering what's the use/effect of casting that with aliens and sci-fi; it's not really a big deal, but I just want to know if I missed something. An enjoyable 20-minute game.
The game has a short series of moral choices, some of which you can backtrack on, and few of which are clearcut. Although this was not clear to me at first, I later realized that the different endings are, in fact, very different, sometimes in ways not clearly connected to the choices you make.
Overall, it's not a very long game, and it has some interesting replay content. Recommended to those who find the blurb interesting, as I did.
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