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About the StoryYour first day on the job wasn't going to be pleasant. Such was inevitable. It's a big change. And, you are autistic.
But this was a different story, far worse than unpleasant.
57th Place - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)
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Number of Reviews: 8
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(Spoiler - click to show)is rejected by the game as something you can't do (hence the title) because of your brain just doesn't work that way. It is in these moments that you really feel the pain and discomfort of the character. When every interaction gets dialed up to 11, normal situations can be uncomfortable and bad situations can be hell.
I'd recommend everyone give this a playthrough to help you better understand some of your fellow humans. Well worth the little time it will take.
We know going in that the player character is autistic, and the opening does a good job of laying out what that means for the protagonist: challenges with eye contact, comfort in repetitive activities, difficulty speaking when triggered. There are small, well-drawn incidents or choices that establish each of these pieces before the main story kicks off, which helped me better orient towards how to portray the character. Indeed, they did such a good job that I don’t think I realized how the choices work until I did a replay: while you do occasionally get choices that would push against Theo’s boundaries, when you try to select these you get told You Couldn’t Have Done that and sent back down the other path. While this means I missed out on some of how YCHDT works on my initial foray, I don’t think that undermines the intended experience since I’d basically internalized the constraints.
The story is really about setting up, then relating, a single traumatic encounter, so it’s very focused throughout its short length. This does mean that there are some elements in the first half or so of the game that seem odd, as there are specific details and characters’ actions that seem to get disproportionate attention. The actions of the antagonistic character slowly escalate over time, and grow increasingly pushy and bizarre. Again, there’s a good synthesis of tone and theme here, since this gives an off-kilter, horror-movie vibe to proceedings.
When the traumatic event comes, it similarly has a lot of terrible immediacy, and again a few strange, specific details keep the engagement high (I think I saw another review mention that this is based on an actual experience of the author, which is awful). YCHDT doesn’t wallow in awfulness, though, and after this crisis the main character does get some support, which I was glad of as otherwise I was worried the game might feel pretty bleak. I will say I was a bit surprised there wasn’t more of the aftermath portrayed, though – I wanted to know a bit more about how Theo wound up processing the event, and how, if at all, it impacted her moving forward. But I think the game is quite effective as it stands, and was stable and almost entirely typo-free – I feel a bit dumb because I often say “this game does exactly what it’s trying to do”, but since there are so many different ways of writing good IF it’s worth acknowledging when one, like YCHDT, is exemplary for its type.
This brief Twine experience from Ann Hugo brought all those fears to the surface while doing so in an honest, compassionate manner. The story is on rails, but the choices given effectively convey the lack of agency autistic people feel when under stress. Every time I was trying to champion a choice that I wanted Theo to make, the story came back with "You Couldn't Have Done That," and I nodded my head as my heart broke a little.
Superb use of the medium and a gift to the IF community.
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This is version 8 of this page, edited by Ann Hugo on 9 December 2020 at 4:45pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item