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About the StoryThe walls are high, the hole is deep. She is trapped, on a distant planet. Watched. She may not survive. But, she did live.
23rd Place - 22nd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2016)
The Breakfast Review
I'm not sure how much of the text is just irrelevant data--maybe it's there for background, maybe it's there to build the mood, but there's too much of it, and anything relevant or important to the story gets lost in it. It doesn't help that most of the time, it looks like the hypertext links are either "click for exposition" or "click for the next page". Occasionally, we have a situation where one needs to hit certain links before the link to the next page is unlocked. It's a valid form of pacing, I suppose, but I think I'd lost enough patience that I couldn't get into it.
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It's a sci fi Gane, with much of it aboard a Star Trek-Esqye vessel (although a small one). It deals with the characters relationship with the crew members.
There is an overall framing story as well involving recorded memory. As part of the framing story, the early text is purposely stilted and formal.
Characterisation is one of the stronger points of this game. As the PC switches between their own memories and those of the Agent's, the viewpoint characters' affection for their colleagues becomes clear.
I liked the switches between narration styles as well, to distinguish between the two timelines. The banter between the PC and the operator is casual, riddled with jibes at each other; the crew member's narration, in contrast, is stilted, almost, but contributes to a sense of distance - and, if I may say so, alienation. Dimensions are given to the nearest 0.1m; descriptions of dialogue and people are conveyed through lists of adjectives; body parts and bodily functions described as if the narrator wasn't used to them.
It's a slow burn, and I can see where readers might be put off early. The story slips between different timelines. Tenses change, not always consistently. Sometimes there's a wall of text, carrying information that the reader doesn't necessarily need to know. This, at least, is not necessarily bad. It suggests the author has thought about the game universe in depth. But what made me finish playing A Time of Tungsten wasn't the meticulous world building or the thought given to the technology in the world - it was seeing the characters gradually grow and warm to each other.
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