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About the StoryDallas, Texas. 1996. Fred Strickland has Alzheimer's.
Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Story; Winner - Fred Strickland, Best Individual PC - 2017 XYZZY Awards
4th Place overall; 2nd Place, Miss Congeniality Award - 23rd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2017)
Rock Paper Shotgun
Granade is an old hand at IF — he had already been writing for some years before I turned up on the interactive fiction scene in the late 90s — and much of his work touches on childhood, family, community, and different characters’ perspective on one another. Common Ground (1999) shows the same scenes from the perspective of several different family members, and Child’s Play (2006) is a parser puzzle game that is also a jokey riff on what it’s like to raise toddlers. Will Not Let Me Go carries forward some of the same themes — how do people understand each other, how do they adapt to each other in families and communities — but it’s the work of a more mature and experienced storyteller.
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I have played a number of parser-based games by this author, but this is the first of his works in Twine that I have come across. If this is his first twine work, I would say that he hit the ground running, as the medium is well suited to this story.
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My opinion of this piece changed through the playing. Initially, I felt it was too linear. What does it say about Twine that even a game designer with as much experience as Granade can make the player feel as if they're just turning the pages of a book? But the story-telling is powerful enough that I stuck with it and by the mid-point I began to appreciate why Granade had chosen this medium.
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L'avventura è l'avventura
The way Stephen Granade used Twine is great: the words sometimes change because Fred struggles to remember, other words are cut … An extraordinary journey into memory, a wonderful work. If we really have to find a con, maybe some passages are too long, but Will Not Let Me Go is just short of a masterpiece.
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Its mix of narrative voice and mechanics that support its story is exactly what I love in narrative design. From the opening indication that the story will remember your place, which fades out until only “remember” lingers, it’s a thoughtful and sometimes painful exploration of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
I can't help but wonder if this could have been more powerful as a parser game. Take the scene where Fred (Spoiler - click to show)gets his wife some Tylenol. If I had more input than clicking hyperlinks I think an already heartbreaking scene would have ruined me. It would have forced me to take a more active role in fighting the unwinnable fight. As played it feels more like turning pages of a story.
The story jumps around quite a bit. For me it was a bit jarring and I think I would have enjoyed something more linear. But now I'm picking nits. Huge props to Granade for tackling this with earnestness and grace.
It's things like this that... how do they say on Facebook? They "restore my faith in humanity".
Will not let me go is an EMOTIONAL piece, of the kind that didn't resonate with me this much since Photopia --- we all know what I'm talking about.
I don't want to enter into details and dissect this, well, masterpiece, as I don't think I have the right to. I just want to say that this is a Twine game that EXACTLY does what a Twine should do every time: tell a story no regular text-book could.
The way the words change to address a memory problem; the way the game (which is fairly long, all considered) aids us in understanding how long it will be still; the AWESOME, INTERIORIZED, MOVING story it tells. And all of this in such a fantastic, unique and PROFOUND way. This is the craft of a Writer, with the capitalized W.
What to say. Einstein once said that intuition is the best skill of any scientist. I may add that knowing how to f*****g tell a story is probably the second best.
Stephen is a scientist. After this... thing he did, I may very well say he's the Einstein of Interactive Fiction.
My greatest fear is becoming afflicted with Alzheimer’s, or some other form of dementia.
Most of my life I have been prone to forgetting words, particularly nouns, and it seems to be getting worse as I get older. I am 41. I once called shampoo ‘hair detergent.’ I often have panic attacks when I can’t find a word, afraid that the word is gone forever. I do not have clear memories of much of my life. What I do remember is usually in the third person, things I know as facts but not as personal happenings. Most of my daughter’s early life just isn’t there.
None of these things indicate that I am more susceptible to dementia but they weigh heavy on me all the same.
In Will Not Let Me Go you take on the role of Fred Strickland, a man stricken Alzheimer’s, at various points in his later years dealing with his condition. These vignettes are presented out of sequence, one of the many tactics Stephen Granade uses to evoke a sense of discomfort in the reader. Passages are often halted mid sentence, sitting unfinished, forcing you to make the effort to continue the story, the same kind of effort Fred must make to stay focused and present. Sometimes words on the screen change as you make these efforts, and sometimes not, it can be hard to tell. I don’t know how many time I missed such a change before finally noticing. Realizing this, that I may have missed many of these changes, I had to put the story away for awhile. I was overwhelmed.
Will Not Let Me Go is a deeply sad work. This is quite often achieved through dramatic irony, scenes played through with you knowing what Fred has forgotten, and you can not help him. But at other times Granade drops the irony completely, putting you right there with Fred in real time as he experiences gapes in time, missed moments. Both approaches are equally effective in breaking the readers heart.
Despite this sadness, Will Not Let Me Go is a story about love, and about wanting the best for those we care about.
You can find the SPOILER-Y, and much more personal, portion of unWinnable State's review of Will Not Let Me Go here.
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