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About the StoryA chronicle of the events of the winter storm of the same name.
Nominee, Best Individual NPC - 2015 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
As a hearty New Englander, walking through a storm resonated with me, but of course, we can't buy wine at our convenience stores. That's a complaint about Connecticut, not about this wonderful work, which shares the same excellent sense of place that Veeder incorporates into his work.
Even though the game starts by getting you lost in a strip of woods between the highway and your neighborhood, it felt believable and real; I could easily draw a map of the area from memory alone.
One of the highlights of this work are the in-game clues. A slight bending of the 4th wall and a charming writing style lets Veeder directly suggest unusual actions and moves to the player, and it improves the overall work.
This piece has a mix of puzzles: a combat mini-game, a riddle, and a 'combine the items' puzzle. The variety makes it challenging, but all the puzzles are fair, logical, and obvious post-solution.
The ending is especially strong, and felt like a real-world experience, an important bit of grounding in an otherwise surreal piece.
The narrator also delights in baffling expectations by occasionally breaking the fourth wall to remind the player that this is a game, mentioning the “author” and at one point explicitly referring to the combat as a “minigame”. Even the game’s subtitle seems to mislead: it’s billed as “an interactive documentary”, but it’s not what most people think of as a documentary. At the end of the game, if the player chooses to view a list of amusing commands, they’re scolded and told that “This interactive documentary is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to amuse.”
Why the game does this isn’t clear. Are the supernatural elements figments of the protagonist’s imagination? Are they hypothermia-induced hallucinations? Does breaking the fourth wall remind the player that what’s happening may not in fact be happening? There's no answer to these questions, but the fact that I was left wondering them at all tells me that the game captured my attention more than I had expected it to, given its short length and seemingly banal premise (the game begins with the player carrying hot dogs and wine home from the supermarket).
Remove the postmodern expectation-breaking, and the game is relatively straightforward. It’s atmospheric, it’s amusing, and it’s varied (you may not quite know what’s going on, but you won’t get bored of trying to work it out). On the other hand, there’s not much to it: there’s only one possible path, there’s very little to do or explore that’s not part of that path, the puzzles are light and not all that satisfying, and the story is interesting but not particularly moving.
The game is well worth playing - it’s short and intriguing - but you shouldn’t expect too much from it. In fact, try not to expect anything in particular: Winter Storm Draco likes nothing more than confounding expectations.
Winter Storm Draco is a game that is well-suited to its format. It plays on one of the strengths of the parser format, by allowing the author to wrench control from the player at key moments - first in navigation, when even the compass directions so ubiquitous in parser games mean nothing; later, in the end-scene.
I relied on the walkthrough in several parts but mostly there were textual clues enough to let a reader canny with parser game conventions to proceed without too much difficulty.
It has the signature self-referential, dry wit that came through so markedly in Nautilisia, though Winter Storm Draco is a little more introspective, a little grimmer. Overall, enjoyable and atmospheric.
See All 6 Member Reviews
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This is for suggesting non-player characters from games released 2015 who you think might be worth considering for Best NPCs/Best Individual NPC in the XYZZY awards. Leave the name (or namelessness) of the NPC (or NPCs) in the comment on...
This is version 2 of this page, edited by Doug Orleans on 4 February 2017 at 9:44am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item