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Rip Retold

by Hipolito

Fantasy
2019

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Number of Reviews: 2
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Solid story that would have been great with a more interactive presentation, December 2, 2019
I enjoyed the fiction of Rip Retold. It was crafted with care and intent, preferring to fill out the story with subtle details instead of massive text dumps. I immediately got a sense of the relationship between Chester (the protagonist) and his brother. The story skips ahead through time, as youíd expect with the tale of Rip van Winkle, but thereís no heavy exposition between scenes.

Most of the passages have you clicking words or phrases to proceed to the next sequence, although sometimes you can follow links for more detail before returning to the flow of the story. A few options end the story early, but there are always options to go back and choose again, along with Twineís prominent ďgo backĒ button on the side of every screen.

The difficult part of telling this story through time-lapse is that the writingís subtlety can work against it. It's tough to understand everything happening the first time you read it.

(Spoiler - click to show)For example, Chesterís decision to take/leave the brooch. The story notes that you could make some money from selling it, but I didnít appreciate all the motivations at work until I flipped back and forth through the decision a few times. Getting enough money to save your brotherís leg leaves you stuck in a dead-end job in town for the rest of your life, while leaving it means that your brother loses his leg and you dedicate yourself to following in your fatherís footsteps and become a doctor because of it. It's a good setup, but I blundered through it.

The other problem with encouraging readers to pay close attention means that sometimes they assign importance to the wrong details. (Spoiler - click to show)When I read about Rip van Winkleís slick hair and pencil-thin mustache, I thought that he was OBVIOUSLY some kind of conman grifter, but now I think they were just details to emphasize how his hair got wild and overgrown during his twenty-year nap.

Looking at areas for improvement, Iím wondering whether bringing in the story of Rip van Winkle is necessary. This entry skips through the life of a boy growing into adulthood, and some of the choices alter his future and the community that he lives in. Thatís a fine premise for a story on its own.

On the other hand, Van Winkle went to sleep before the revolutionary war, as a subject of the king, and woke up after independence in a democracy. Thatís a big change! Including him in this story makes Chesterís transition feel much less dramatic.