IFComp 2016: Moonland   Leave a comment

By BillyJaden. Played to completion using iPhone Safari.


Moonland is a science fiction Twine game very much in the mold of Porpentine. I’d say a large part of the appeal is working out what’s going on, so I’m just going to say you are in love.

moon1

The structure is designed to return to the scene above multiple times, each time with another method of branching. I’ve seen this concept a few times but I’d say this is the best I’ve seen it work; while there isn’t anything I’d call a deliberate choice in the hub scene, the point is to add to the mystery and the obtuseness of the interaction makes total sense with the plot.

Unfortunately, when I said “in the mold of Porpentine” I also mean it tries a little too hard to be an imitation. Here’s an early bit:

Wasps crawl out of her mouth, exploding in your face, dripping mud, wet neon-black tears fill your stomach.

The propensity for squishy imagery is there, and the occasional vivid adjective, but the effect struck me more as comical than harrowing. Somehow the wasps “crawl” and then “explode” and “drip mud” and that all translates into “neon-black tears”. The sequence just isn’t coherent enough to be vivid.

You lost track of your steps. The darkness around you fills your body with butterflies, scribbling letters on your callow skin.

This bit doesn’t scan nearly as bad, but it does sound — scribbling letters on your callow skin — like it’s trying too hard. It’s the prose equivalent of horror vacui — every space needs to be filled with some sort of liquid or mucus or color.

This is made worse for three reasons:

a.) There are portions with dark green text that are very hard to read.

moon2

b.) There are often long … delays … in displaying … words. They did not add to the experience and I found myself distracting myself with other chores while waiting for text to show up.

c.) The end gets very repetitive. There is only so many ways to say that {plot spoiler here} is happening and there were at least 20 screens which had near-equivalent content. While there was a choice at the end I was very interested in, this factor and the other two I just mentioned meant I had no desire to replay to see any more ends.

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Posted October 3, 2016 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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