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Long and beautifully presented, but few choices until about midgame, February 11, 2019
by SpikeThe Broken Bottle is a long choice-based story about a young boy, the wolf he has befriended, and a nearby encampment of gypsies. The game is made in Unity, and the "welcome" page says that it's a prototype. However, it mostly felt like a completed story to me.
The cover art is beautiful, although it's also somewhat confusing: What is Professor Elwood's Castle of Oddities? There's no such person or thing that I could find in the game - or even a hint of anything like that. Perhaps The Broken Bottle is intended to be one story in a collection that is somehow tied together by Professor Elwood and his castle.
The game's presentation is also beautiful. Like another IFComp 2018 game, Abbess Otilia's Life and Death, the story is in book form. Also like Abbess Otilia, I found the book lovely to look at. In addition, you get this nice "page turning" sound effect every time you, well, turn a page. I think Myst and/or Riven had something like that as well. It helped draw me in.
For about the first half or so of The Broken Bottle it felt very much like I was simply reading a beautifully-presented online novella: This part of The Broken Bottle is heavy on the fiction and light on the interactive. (I only remember one choice up through midgame.) Around the middle of the game, though, you start being presented with choices (always binary choices) with a fair degree of regularity. I wasn't sure at first how much many of these actually mattered, but by the end I could see that some really did have effects that showed up - sometimes much later.
I got an ending I was mostly happy with. I did kind of want to try for another ending, but the story is so long, and the first half is nearly all straight narrative. I couldn't make myself click through all the pages again to find something different.
Overall, a long, beautifully-presented story whose interactive elements don't really kick in until about midgame.
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