Ill-Advised Things To Put In Your Blurb, Volume IX:
I am NOT, I repeat, I AM NOT responsible for the choices YOU make in this game.
Sorry, buddy, ain’t no amount of all-caps bold underline gonna to make it so. You create the possibility-space, you’d better take some ownership. (The actual game doesn’t seem to contain any content that would motivate this kind of hand-washing.)
chooseyourstory.com has been around a pretty long time – since well before Twine was a twinkle in Chris Klimas’ bloodshot, goat-pupiled eye. I poked around on it briefly some years back, and my impression was that its artistic culture tended strongly towards long chunks of text between choices, a fairly narrow scope of choice, and little or no state-tracking on the mechanical side, with the writer side being mostly unadventurous genre pieces with an emphasis on adolescent thriller stuff, rendered in pedestrian prose.
Game conforms to at least some of this. The prose isn’t broken, but it shows little evidence of craft, spending a good deal of time on waffling and wandering into unnecessary tangents. The setting is campy genre horror, with a dose of fourth-wall wackiness thrown in for good measure. (You’re a schoolkid who goes to rescue their friend from a haunted house; encounters include cannibals, a sexy vampire, a dinosaur, and Coyote.)
On the other hand, there’s more player freedom and state than I anticipated; you have an inventory (although actually using it is kind of awkward). After the intro, the game transitions to a fairly traditional adventure-game format, with a house-of-locked-doors opened by inventory puzzles.
It makes some use of graphics, but more in a clip-arty style than anything that gives an aesthetic component to the game. It’s not used in a very consistent way: some NPCs get character graphics, some don’t, and there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason why. To me, the main effect of the art was to make the game feel amateurish without adding any useful information, but this might be different for an audience unaccustomed to all-text games.
There is a great deal of death, and it took me a while to notice the UNDO function at top-right. Even with that, it’s not plain sailing: there are some puzzles of the use-X-in-situation-Y variety, and some gentle riddles, and that was fine, but then I found myself confronted with some monsters that I couldn’t figure out a way around, and at this point my patience ran out.
As a first game, an exercise to prove that you can use a system and produce a working, non-tiny game, while doofing around and not taking anything too seriously, this is fine. But as a comp entry, it’s a bit flat. It’s not even the subject-matter, necessarily – I can get along with doofy randomness as long as it’s funny. The next, vital step is moving beyond ‘I want to make an adventure game’ to ‘I want to use the medium of adventure games to do this thing.’