I didn’t get my entry done in time to submit it to SeedComp (here’s hoping for Spring Thing!), but that means I’m free to write some reviews with much less conflict of interest! This is my first time writing reviews like this, so they may come slow and some may be a bit short, but nonetheless they will be.
free bird. by Sarah Willson
Full disclosure: this game did use my seed “Room; Closed Door,” which challenged authors to create a room escape game using only nouns and adjectives—no verbs. free bird. combines it with another room escape seed: “Feathered Fury” by Amanda Walker, which instructed authors to write a game where you play as a bird of paradise trying to escape from the hideout of a group of poachers. This combo didn’t even enter my mind as I perused the seeds, but this game combines the two with impressive synergy. Each passage is a series of adjective-noun pairs, mostly disconnected from each other to communicate our feathered protagonist’s individual isolated impressions. This immediately puts us in the bird’s headspace both in terms of cognition and confusion, as it’s hard to extrapolate much past the limited information we get.
Still, the protagonist manages to display a good bit of personality. When we look in a mirror early in the game, it describes itself as “handsome macaw.” It has both a good deal of empathy and of pragmatism, able to recognize other animals’ plights and wanting to help even in the narration outside of the player’s choices. It can also pick one thing up at a time in its beak to use as a tool, which makes for some interesting puzzles. I will admit there was one point towards the end where I felt a little stuck, but exploring further revealed sufficient cluing that I’d missed.
The author has described free bird. as “hopepunk,” and I think that’s a perfect descriptor for a story that grows to depict a communal effort to seek freedom, make positive change, and enact radical kindness. I think we could all use a bit of that—even those of us who can’t fly.
I really appreciate this kind and thoughtful review! Your seed was very inspiring, and I’m glad my hopepunk intentions came across.
Right? I never would have seen the connection, but the verbless writing really helps make it clear that the PC isn’t human in a really charming way. My experience with parrots (which is considerable) really squares with the PC-- birds are really object-oriented.