Friday, October 21, 2016

Riot (review)

"Riot" is a Twine game written by Taylor Johnson for the 2016 interactive fiction competition. The PC is a meek and inexperienced riot control officer name Parker, who is separated from his comrades during the riot. Most of the story involves Parker's experiences in the aftermath of the riot, as he helps others and grows in confidence.

The story aims for some serious themes: growing-up fast in a combat situation, acknowledging ones own violence to others, grappling with post traumatic stress. But as with a lot of beginner Twine, I didn't feel fully immersed in the story. The game doesn't remember any of the player's past choices for longer than the current scene. Worse, when the player makes one choice, but the story shoe-horns events back in the direction of the rejected option, the game destroys any illusion of a branching narrative. The sense of limited player agency is not the atmosphere you want to create in a story about a hero's journey. Add to that the absence of any special text effects, graphics or sound, and I wonder, what sets this apart of a CYOA paperback? What's the value-added of playing this on a computer?

Finally, I'm not the type of player who pays much attention to spelling or grammar. I've written over fifty reviews and rarely comment on it at all. I fall squarely in the e.e.cummings school of "why do MLA standards matter." But here, I found punctuation and spelling errors in the game's opening moments which were so egregious that they lowered my expectations for the rest of the experience.

A hand that dwarfs your own clamps yours still. This hand belongs to Kurt. You’re only real friend and without whom, you would not have this opportunity.

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