18 Cadence by Aaron Reed

So I played Aaron Reed’s 18 Cadence today.

More accurately, I read through it. I couldn’t much see the point of the object descriptors and sentence-making in the big workspace below. While the stories and premise were interesting — à la Edward Rutherford, but a lot shorter and less dry, thank god — I kept thinking that the sentence crafting would lead to something, something changing in the text, but it never did, which was rather disappointing in the end.

I saw some other reviews of the game that included screenshots of what you were supposed to do with the drag-and-drop options — apparently the point of it was to make a story? I didn’t see much sense in that, either, being as the phrases were still just snippets of the text — linear, and unchanging from the original.

Not hating on the game at all. In fact I still rather enjoyed reading about the lives of the different people throughout the ages, and thought that the graphical interface (with the house, and the rooms’ map) a rather nice touch of engaging interaction. However, in the end I was still left with the feeling of something missing, and that baffles me because it doesn’t really feel right.

So I wanted to ask anyone who’s played the game their experience with it? Or, if you created any of the story snippets on the board in-game, if you wanted to share them (through screenshots or the like, if those exist)? Or just overall your opinion on it? How could the gameplay mechanics in this one be adapted to future works, et cetera (because I still find them interesting, despite not getting them entirely).

I dunno. The first time I came upon this game and read the summary, I thought you’d be able to affect the stories of all these lives through your choices, and all the going ons around the house, but you weren’t, which removed almost all reader interaction in the game for me and made for a rather lackluster playing experience. The literary part of it was okay, though; well-written and well-constructed. I loved Evelyn and the story of her family and her boys the best.

What are your thoughts? :face_with_monocle:


I know I played it because I wrote about it for its XYZZY Awards nomination. Unfortunately I can’t read my own review because the XYZZY site has fallen into disrepair, and I couldn’t finagle it out of the Wayback Machine, either.

I remember being pleased with it, but not excited. I don’t think there’s any trick missed in design, though. This is a branch of IF that some people like (a no-modelled-agency story toy for the imagination?) and others will probably never be interested in. This one has a bigger bank of material than most and a good interface. Aaron is an academic, and I do associate this branch I’ve very vaguely described as more in the tradition of academia.

I’m too far away from it now to comment on the mechanics re: other genres, but I already like your idea (“I thought you’d be able to affect the stories of all these lives through your choices, and all the going ons around the house”). Sounds challenging, though, but maybe not if done on a smaller scale than 18 Cadence’s inventory.