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if not us: an interactive fiction anthology

by ub4q profile

Fantasy
2018

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An ambitious and sprawling collection of games, April 29, 2018
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This is unique among IF; the closest thing to it I've seen is the current Spring Thing game Life in This Northern Town.

This is an anthology of five games: one inform game and four heavily modified Twine games.

I'll discuss each game in a minute. First, an overview: the folder from itch.io contains six images, one of each of the main protagonists together with a cover photo. The art is very well-done.

The general idea is that five heroes banded together, and then something occurred to them in the long run. The games focus on the beginning and the aftermath, skipping the traditional climax. It's contemplative.

Each game is named after a main character. Looking at the photos before playing is advised.

Alemayehu is the Inform game, and perhaps this should not be the game to start with when you're playing through. It is a constrained parser game, with a few actions primarily relating to other characters. It is a one-room game.that last a couple dozen actions or so.

Apollinariya is a textual labyrinth in Twine. The screen is split in two, with a table of contents on the left and text on the right. Your goal, if there can be said to be one, is to fill out the table of contents on the left, after which you can read the story as a whole. Links are unusual, as clicking on them reveals arrows going left or right, occasionally crossed out. To me, this was the weakest Twine game, as I ended up lawnmowering every link to get the last bits of story. But I enjoyed the final story.

Arzan is a heavily styled letter with a number of binary choices. in tone and styling it is reminiscent of First Draft of the Revolution. While the story is fairly linear, it offers some significant choices in terms of tone and emotion.

Cevahir was perhaps my favorite Twine subgame. Based on a taciturn character, it is minimalistic in writing but uses evocative visual imagery.

The final Twine game, Renatum An Amurum, uses retro styling, similar to text boxes in SNES RPG's. Similar to the Texture writing system, hovering over links provides additional context, but links are still clicked instead of dragged. This game requires replays to get the full story.

On the negative side, I found the new names and the obscure writing hard to get into at first, and I was surprised that the Twine and Inform games had been bundled up into applications.

I felt like I knew the characters by the end, which is a good sign.