[spoiler]Here we have a good ol’ post-apocalyptic alien invasion thriller. The story follows a woman struggling to survive alone in an abandoned house in the woods, all while coping with isolation and the loss of her loved ones. Also, creepy human-like aliens keep showing up to eat her.
I’m personally at a place where apocalypse fiction is sort of meh. With most of them, I get it, humans are the real monsters. There needs to be something new and different to grab my attention. Fortunately, the game provides - the aliens consume memories by eating your sentimental possessions. Suddenly, all the useless little trinkets and do-dads you’ve collected over the years become pieces of meat you can throw at the aliens to lure them away, at least until they’re hungry again.
It’s an intriguing concept, and one that I’d like to see expanded more, though some of the details could be revisited. For example, the aliens will engorge themselves to death if they eat an object with too strong of an emotional attachment, or if they eat a human directly. I suspect the invasion didn’t go very well, considering their moth-to-a-flame mentality about eating.
Despite the constant threat of aliens, the major conflict of the story is internal. We’re meant to witness the point at which the running, the loneliness, and the loss of her cherished memories become too much for the protagonist. It’s a difficult story to tell in such a short format as opposed to, say, a novel, because we’ve barely spent any time with her on her journey. We aren’t nearly as exhausted as she is, and though the author tries to fill in the gaps by telling us about her past, telling rarely works as well as showing. Thus when the final decision comes around, the options that amount to “giving up” don’t carry the prerequisite weight to allow us to choose them.
Reworking the writing may help with this, as the story felt like a first or second draft. I also wasn’t a fan of any sections that circled back to a hub, as they seemed to slow the pacing down without much of a return on the investment. This was especially true when you’re given options to explore various rooms in the house, and the author essentially says “not this way” to any option other than the correct one. I do enjoy linear stories in IF, though I think they work best when the author fully commits to the format.
I did read the postmortem and I plan to visit the updated version; it’s possible that things I’ve mentioned have already been changed. Kudos to the author for taking the time to do that![/spoiler]