Friday, October 23, 2015

Crossroads (review)

"Crossroads" is a multiply branching story by Cat Manning, written in Twine for the 2015 interactive fiction competition.

In the past two days I have set about learning Twine and javascript for myself.  This new knowledge changes rather fundamentally the way I look at Twine games, sometimes becoming more distracted away from the story, while I imagine the structure of the code.

The story is about a planned encounter with a witch at the edge of the woods.  The text suggests that this witch may not be entirely good-natured.  The writing here starts out strong, which is good, because the beginning is the only part of the story that every player will necessarily see.  The narrative then branches off rather quickly, depending on what reason the player has chosen for seeing the witch, and what herbs they've brought along to help her with her spells.  I played several times, to check that the alternate story pathways lead to fundamentally different conclusions.  They do,.but with this many different endings, I didn't think the ones I played were written to the same high quality as the opening passages.

In past IFcomp years, against weaker competition, this story might have been in the top third.  But this year will be especially challenging, and this story (thematically) didn't light my fire.  I would recommend this game to players who like this particular game design. (hypertext interface, multiply branching CYOA).  I would not expect it to finish in the top thirtieth percentile.

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