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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 ďauthorĒ and at one point explicitly referring to the combat as a ďminigameĒ. Even the gameís subtitle seems to mislead: itís billed as ďan interactive documentaryĒ, but itís 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, theyíre scolded and told that ďThis interactive documentary is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to amuse.Ē
Why the game does this isnít clear. Are the supernatural elements figments of the protagonistís imagination? Are they hypothermia-induced hallucinations? Does breaking the fourth wall remind the player that whatís 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. Itís atmospheric, itís amusing, and itís varied (you may not quite know whatís going on, but you wonít get bored of trying to work it out). On the other hand, thereís not much to it: thereís only one possible path, thereís very little to do or explore thatís 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 - itís short and intriguing - but you shouldnít 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.
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