Sunday, October 2, 2016

All I do is dream (review)

"All I do is dream" is a hypertext type story entered in the 2016 interactive fiction competition. I recognized the author Megan Stevens as the author of "Our Boys in Uniform" an antiwar story which I reviewed favorably in the 2013 competition. I believe she has also published some more recent Twine games which I have not played.

In rough summary, this game is about the lethargy experienced by someone with chronic depression. This is not the first time IF has been used to examine the problem of serious depression. It is uncomfortable to review such games, because the reader assumes that the author may be representing something of themselves through the story and doesn't want a critical review. It isn't a theme that wins competitions. But there too, not everybody enters to win.

The first time I played on my primitive stone-age Ipod, I played up to a point where I got stuck in an endless loop. I liked the writing well enough that I blamed my Ipod and loaded it again on a chrome browser (the whole story only takes about fifteen minutes). Then I hit the same dead-end.  A link that reads "Maybe tomorrow you'll play it again?" clicking on it does nothing but repeat the same message. Maybe that's the point, that chronic depression feels like an endless dead-end loop. But the story is already so short, the dead-end felt instead like it was a programming bug. 

I think this could have been a powerful story if it was a little longer, and if there was just a hint of hopefulness at the end.

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