IF Comp 2015: Grimm’s Godfather

Grimm’s Godfather (Gabby Wu) is a short graphic novel retelling a story from the Brothers Grimm. A father must choose God, the Devil or Death as his thirteenth son’s godfather; this is your first choice. The story plays out much the same way in each circumstance: the protagonist becomes a famous physician, then is invited to save members of the royal family. Different patrons have different stances on whether to let them live or die: God wants the physician to preferentially save the wealthy, the Devil wants him to serve as an assassin, and Death is generally impartial (which generally means letting people die). You can choose whether to defy or obey your patron; you can get away with some disobedience, but not all of it.

I get the impression that this was written as a class project – and as a learning exercise, it seems like a decent approach, both as a way of getting to grips with branching narrative design and as a Ren’Py implementation exercise. But thing that are excellent for one’s own learning process are not necessarily worth presenting to a wider audience.

The writing is terse, bland and contains lots of basic grammar errors. The story doesn’t really contain anything surprising, and I got the sense that it was being used as an off-the-peg story for the sake of a coding/design exercise, rather than to engage with anything in the subject-matter.

So, for instance, early in the story the father disapproves of God as a godfather, because God favours the rich and neglects the poor. This is lifted straight from the Grimm telling, which puts it in strikingly blunt terms; but the interpretation seems to take it pretty much for granted. And this taking-for-granted is true of almost all the game’s content: God is a beardy old man in a robe, the Devil is red, horned and goat-legged, Death is a hooded figure with a scythe.

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