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Dad vs. Unicorn

by PaperBlurt

Slice of life/Surreal

Web Site

(based on 23 ratings)
5 member reviews

About the Story

A day like many others.
Dad at the BBQ - his son in an empty house.

Remembering childhood as well as adulthood.
Disappointment fills the void between the two.

A unicorn changes the day..

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: September 29, 2013
Current Version: 1
License: Freeware
Development System: Twine
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
IFID: Unknown
TUID: 27pof8o21bjyofvl


26th Place - 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2013)

Editorial Reviews

Emily Short
IF Comp 2013: Dad vs Unicorn (PaperBlurt)
This is a rather grim short about a dysfunctional father/son relationship. A lot of work has gone into the presentation: the fonts, the colors, the drawings all pull together in a consistent way, like a children’s book, but with distinctly un-children’s-book content. I wouldn’t really call it fun, but it’s also not trying to be fun...
See the full review


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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Exploration of Masculine Gender Identity, November 28, 2013
by streever (America)
This short narrative is not badly done; it is a successful exploration of culturally normative masculine gender identity.

This is essentially a twine or hypertext game, concerning a linear story line told from three different perspectives. The third perspective (that of the unicorn) is an "unlockable"--once you've played through as either of the two starting characters (father or son) you can play as the unicorn. Unfortunately, the Unicorn and the Father both present the same macho/bully/entitled male gender identity, so there wasn't as much variation here as there seemed.

The actual writing is fairly good, although the story could have benefited from better characterization. The father's final, binary, choice seems superfluous/gamest and not in keeping with the plot. I had no sense from reading his narrative that he'd be even possibly be willing to make the more noble of the two choices. In that moment, it was clear that I was the player and not the character, which was out of keeping with the experience so far. This game is very linear; you do not get to change the perspective or behavior of the character you are playing as.

Ultimately this game says something meaningful about gender identity, particularly as it applies to American masculine identity, but the message is hindered by the actual mechanics and style. The tone seems to suggest you can make meaningful decisions (and you do have one choice, at the end, depending on your character), but the choices do not seem particularly illuminating or realistic.

I think of the 3 narratives the son is the strongest. It features the feelings, emotions, and thoughts in a way that felt real. I found the character to be irritating and not particularly sympathetic, but still well-written. To be clear, I think the author succeeded at portraying an unlikable character in a sympathetic way, which is a success.

The story for the father was much harder to appreciate. The father is a parody of American fatherhood, and didn't feel real or even vaguely sympathetic. I suppose the final choice in his narrative could feel real, depending on how you viewed him or how realistic you believe the stereotype of American fatherhood is, but it felt empty and meaningless. Choice for the sake of choice.

The unicorn worked better as a portrayal of bullying male macho masculinity; there is no attempt at humanizing or making the unicorn sympathetic, so I didn't feel any disconnect with his actions and the narrative.

I think this is a good story, and the graphics are fun. I would suggest improving the father character, but on the whole, I thought this was a successful game.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Wrong expectations, November 29, 2013
by Simon Deimel (Germany)
The first two parts of the story were quite well written. A father neglecting his son, a son feeling misunderstood by his father, both parts ending in a surreal moment. So I expected a solution to the appearance of the unicorn -- was it a metaphor? But I was disappointed. (Spoiler - click to show)The third part describes the unicorn embarking upon a destructive romp, maybe the author wants to show how air-built castles can crash when the truth is revealed, but this approach will not work for everyone. These passages make use of a vulgar language, which was way too extreme for my taste. Conclusively there is not much time wasted if you check it out, but do not expect a philosophical statement.

An occasionally list rated story of a father and son and expectations, September 14, 2017
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes
This game is about a father who is macho and masculine, and a son who has taken a different path and identity from their father.

You take turns playing as father, son, or, eventually, unicorn. The meaning of the unicorn is enigmatic to me, perhaps representing social pressure, but you'll have to play to see what you think.

There is some strong profanity, vague reference to sexual acts, and occasional violence.

See All 5 Member Reviews

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The following polls include votes for Dad vs. Unicorn:

Father-Son Relationships by matt w (Matt Weiner)
Going along with the Mother-Daughter poll, any games that touch on father-son relationships? Again, not necessarily the center of the work.

For Your Consideration: XYZZY-eligible PCs of 2013 by Sam Kabo Ashwell
This poll is a place to suggest player characters from games released in 2013, who you think might be worth considering for Best Individual PC in the XYZZY Awards. Leave the name (or namelessness) of the PC in the comment on your vote....


This is version 6 of this page, edited by PaperBlurt on 19 March 2014 at 10:26am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item