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About the StoryA dream-like journey through a drifting life.
Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Use of Multimedia - 2015 XYZZY Awards
18th Place overall; 3rd Place, Miss Congeniality Award - 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2015)
Meg Jayanth's Top 10 Games of 2015
"There is beauty and purpose to be found in each fantastical place in the game, but also an underlying desolation, a bittersweetness that comes through Phantom Williams' prose in combination with Ben Wasserman's music. (You must play it with the sound up.) But the most telling choice in Summit is to linger in these places--learning arts, making connections--or to leave, and continue on your quest to reach the elusive, ever-distant Summit. Both choices feel equally valid, equally terrible--stay and actually live life at the cost of giving up your dream, or go on with your journey but give up the people, places, magics that you are starting to know?"
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IF Only: Strangely Thought - by Emily Short
"Summit tells the story of a journey through a strange land. The eponymous summit is your goal, but it doesnít matter if you donít get there: there are many other places you can end up, and many ways you can read the experience. Perhaps youíll stop and live in a city for a while, or join a university, or take part in an archaeological study. And periodically you will need to open up your fishstomach and consume one of the many symbiotic fish that swim within. Consuming fish is a sign, and probably even a cause, of mortality, but you also canít really live without fish. Everyone has a fishstomach. There are stories of a time when people didnít have fishstomachs, but nowadays, everyone does.....Summit looks at the brighter side of death. Our lives are finite, but it is that boundedness that gives our choices meaning. We canít go everywhere and do everything."
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
The story here is universal. You play as a character dissatisfied with many things. You can see in the distance, both metaphorically and physically, a summit. Climbing this summit might erase your problems. Therefore you set out to climb it.
The game is episodic. You're waylaid beside the road, in cities, in towns, you meet people, you part from them, years pass, and still you are trying to reach the summit. The world is unusual and alien, yet familiar. One sequence involves attending a pseudo-religious function where the participants convulse on the floor after ingesting nano-machines. This echoes our world directly. Just remove the nano-machines.
Fishstomachs are extra stomachs that everyone in this game has, and that are filled with living fish. The fishstomachs eject the fish, the characters eat the fish, and then the fish eat through the characters' normal stomachs to nibble at their internal organs before the fish die and decompose. Eating a fish and having your organs nibbled is an ecstatic experience like taking a potent drug. Everyone is dependent on eating fish, but not like drug addicts are dependent on drugs. You need to eat the fish to stay alive. There's no rehabilitation possible. If you don't tend your fish, your fishstomach will erupt and kill you. If you do keep eating fish, eventually that will kill you too, once they nibble your organs enough and their fishrot infuses your body.
This is a thoroughly nightmarish concept to me. I'm averse to most seafood anyway, but having fish swimming in your body, nibbling your organs, rotting away into toxic slime? Phantom Williams has created a potent metaphor with this fishstomach business. It's not a metaphor for anything in particular. Like the game's summit, it's universal. It resonates on many different levels.
And you totally understand why the protagonist would want to reach the summit and have all their problems wiped away, including their fishstomach.
One curious feature of this game is that "you" is not really "you." Sometimes "I" takes over when "you" gets too tired, and the game addresses this, proclaiming that the "you" in most text games is actually narcissism masked as empathy.
It's interesting, but I don't entirely agree. Although there's some truth here, the "you" in a text game is no more narcissistic than the "she" or "he" in a novel. No matter the narrative viewpoint, the player/reader is always consuming the material, absorbing it to change or reinforce their own perspectives about the world. Whatever pronouns are being used, everything is another fish going down the gullet.
Comparisons to Porpentine will be made, with reason. Summit seems to have studied Porpentine's work for inspiration. But this game stands on its own.
It has a soundtrack that you shouldn't miss.
Summit is a meditative, beautiful and extraordinarily imaginative text. The player is journeying toward an elusive mountain that seems ever unattainable - passing through cities and villages and crumbling ancient libraries. I played it to many endings, and I still don't think I have seen everything there is to see.
It was one of my favorite games of IF comp 2015.
Of all the astonishing imagery Summit has to offer, it is the concept of the fish-stomach that is most compelling. The people in the world of Summit have a stomach in which swim fish that must be eaten from time to time. If the fish are not eaten, it causes death, if they are, they nibble away at internal organs and will cause death. At the Summit is the myth of freedom from the tyranny of the fish-stomachs.
As an extended metaphor, I struggled with this. It is hard to assign a concrete meaning. As in any quest, it is the journey that matters. The fish-stomach, a crushing addiction/obligation - can you live with it even if the life you have isn't everything you had hoped? Or do you journey ever on, knowing that just around the corner might be your cure.
This beautifully presented multi-media dreamscape. Very very highly recommended.
Instead, you spend some time traveling through various strange lands, meeting various strange people, and you have the option to stay and enrich the lives of those people, and have them enrich yours, or to move on with your journey.
Summit is full of symbolism, the most obvious and unique of which is the idea of the "fish stomach." Essentially, everyone in this world has a stomach full of live fish. If you vomit up a fish and eat it, the result is ecstatic, possibly orgasmic -- but the fish will travel through your body, nibbling at your organs, and eventually kill you. On the other hand, if you abstain from eating the fish, your fishstomach will eventually burst and you will die of fish rot.
As a metaphor, this really worked for me. It seems like a memory for nothing less than life itself. No matter what you do, you will eventually die. But you can hasten that death, or ward it off, and sometimes avoiding death also means missing out on life. So like the decision of eating a fish in Summit, life is often about finding that balance between risk and safety, indulgence and restraint. And I thought the fish thing was such an incredibly evocative way to portray that, with enough nuance to avoid bashing you over the head with themes.
And of course, the "life" metaphor is woven through other things, as well, like the aspirational nature of the summit, that nagging dissatisfaction you feel when you should be content, the way you give up on good things when you're searching for something better that you may never find.
Playing this when I did, it definitely resonated with me on a personal level. I will say it felt like it ran on a little long; not that the game itself needs to be shorter, but that it's probably better digested in smaller chunks rather than tackled all at once. But for an otherwise incredibly evocative game, that's a pretty small complaint.
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Recommended ListsSummit appears in the following Recommended Lists:
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I just recently started playing IF games, and have had a variety of experiences - this list collects the games I've played that moved me on a deeply emotional level.
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These are probably idiosyncratic, and I haven't hit nearly everything I probably ought to have. While I play catch up I'll hope to add to this list a bit as well. Also, there are a few IF works that are not yet in IFDB that deserve...
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PollsThe following polls include votes for Summit:
For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible multimedia uses of 2015 by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
This is for suggesting games released in 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Use of Multimedia in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not...
For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible settings of 2015 by verityvirtue
This is for suggesting settings from games released 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Setting in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not...
For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible writing of 2015 by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
This is for suggesting games released in 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Writing in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here...
This is version 9 of this page, edited by MathBrush on 8 February 2017 at 4:55pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item