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About the StoryA Spring Thing 2014 entry.
Surface should play in all modern browsers, however Chrome and Safari are recommended as text and image fades may not display properly in other browsers.
2nd Place - Spring Thing 2014
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Number of Reviews: 3
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It uses graphics and background colors to distinguish between two different worlds: one, a porpentine-like world with beings of slime and technology, and the other the human world, where a father is struggling with mental illness.
It has puzzles; at one point, there is a long sequence involving the food chain. I found bits of this fiddly, but interesting enough that I was happy when it was done.
The overall storyline was great, and that's what I like best about games. So I recommend this one.
But the maps in the game are inspired. I'm not very familiar with Twine, but I haven't seen this done before. The sprawling map of the dark forest when it is reached, is startling in its beauty, a great centerpiece to the more minimal maps.
Unfortunately, the house and office floorplans are much more cleanly drawn than the maps for the alien settings. Combine that with downright vague directions like "up" "down" and "beneath", which are used around the vessel, and the two halves of the game seem unbalanced.
The gameplay flowed nicely. The human character's repeated choice between making stuff up and being honest felt like a natural choice to me, as did the alien's choice between eating things himself and sharing.
There were a few things that I expected to be interactive but turned out not to be. Taking the pills seemed to have no effect on the later story, as the narrator later quips that the human character should have taken the pills to (Spoiler - click to show)prevent a psychotic break.
Additionally, after (Spoiler - click to show)absorbing the bear, I was told that I would not be able to hold onto it for very long, but I was uncertain of whether this was a problem I actually had to solve, or just part of the narration. I'll have to replay and see what changes.
Edit: the two-star rating seems a little harsh in hindsight, and I was using it to reflect my feeling that the game was uneven in parts. Since there are no serious flaws, the game is probably closer to 2.5, so I've updated it to three stars.
Great atmosphere, solid writing, incredible use of twine, April 18, 2014
I really enjoyed the creative way-finding; it wasn't your standard (N, S, W, E) coordinates, but I didn't find it distracting or confusing. Other noticeable improvements on the standard Twine experience included the hand-drawn maps and elegant inventory system. This game recreates some of the feeling of a parser game, while stripping away the learning curve and 'guess the verb/noun' confusion that can occur in a parser.
The writing was strong, and the hinted at domestic problems were an engrossing mystery, as was the identity of the character you play. The narrative has a strong punch, and includes the use of red herrings that give you further insight into the character and the story. I recommend playing this game like an exploration on your first go, and 'in character' on the second--as you imagine your character to be, based on the first play through.
(My original review of this game referred to a puzzling early maze-like puzzle; it has since been reworked and improved dramatically.)
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