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What the Bus?

by E. Joyce profile


(based on 5 ratings)
3 member reviews

About the Story

Your commute is simple enough. Or at least, it should be. But today, the entire public transportation system seems to have it out for you--and is it just you, or does the geography keep... shifting?

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2020
Current Version: Unknown
IFID: 5F341CF0-15DD-4DA9-B456-1F2E2426D575
TUID: xn5hqyl6tzjcduql


Entrant - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)


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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 3
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
fast game on transit frustrations, October 5, 2020
by WidowDido (Northern California)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2020
A fun, very quick game about getting the runaround trying to navigate the public transit system.

Frustration mounts and most likely you become increasingly lost. There are multiple endings--some of them better than others (and one is the worst). Finally, you arrive at a destination. There's perhaps only a little more to it than that, but a couple playthroughs will let you know what to expect for the rest of the endings.

If you're looking for a fun little game to play between texting a friend when your bus is late or your train delayed, why not give it a try. It doesn't require much thought, but can effectively distract you while you wait.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Delightfully surreal CYOA, October 15, 2020
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)
What the Bus? is pure CYOA (about trying to catch the right bus to get to work) in that there are no puzzles to solve and no parser quirks. You just go through every potential story path until you find all the endings. When I was a child, I would use my fingers or paper clips to hold my place at different plot branches so I wouldn't have to start from the beginning. Joyce doesn't quite make things that simple, but the presence of an "Undo" button is incredibly welcome and makes this much more palatable.

Growing up and living in the suburbs, I have never been on a subway in my life, and only a few city buses. So I can only imagine the frustration that led to this story. Still, the snark is delivered well without drowning in it, so I was motivated to find every ending. And the choice to go surreal with many of the endings was also a treat. I don't think I would play this again, but I was grinning the entire time I played it.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
This is totally taking place in Boston, October 3, 2020
This entry is quick and dreamlike for good reason: it's a transit nightmare. In your rush to arrive at work on time, you only see a brief slice of content before arriving at one of many endings. Multiple playthroughs uncover a much larger range of outcomes.

What the Bus? pulled off a clever trick with my expectations, although discussing it ventures into spoiler territory: (Spoiler - click to show)the word "Nightmare" is not hyperbole. The author has created an experience where you start off sleepwalking through your daily commute before realizing that you're fully asleep and not walking at all.

The tediously familiar routine of commuting was presented so effectively that the various detours, delays, and redirections steered me to some very weird places before I realized what was happening. I like how it played with the assumptions embedded in city commutes of course you take everything for granted, you've done it a million times before.

There's a back button at the bottom of every passage that seemed confusing and unhelpful on my first playthrough. Then I realized that it was an essential mercy to let me back out of paths leading to endings I'd already seen. Background colors that change to show the different subway lines was another nice detail.

I appreciated this entry's use of procedurally generated text. You will see a lot of familiar passages, retracing your steps to arrive at new endings, but if you pay attention you'll see (Spoiler - click to show)mimes, former schoolteachers, zombies, and other dreamworld inhabitants. I checked my GPS app every time the option came up, because I knew the results would be entertaining.

I never thought I'd say this about public transit: "That was fun. Let's do it again!"


This is version 6 of this page, edited by Zape on 10 October 2020 at 2:14pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item