Concours Francophone 2024 ~ All Games Reviewed 🇫🇷

The entries of the French Comp have been out for a few days already… Time for some delicious reviews (maybe? probably not, because the theme wasn’t food related…)

The themes were: ILLUSION and VENU D’AILLEUR (coming from somewhere else)

There are 21 entries this year:

Lesssgoooo

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I’m starting this in the order of submission !

Radio liberté - prologue, by Intory Creative/Fabrice Gli

Radio liberté is a short fairly linear Moiki game, part of a series, set in the future where (I think) France may have conquered the world… or at least space. To the dismay of the government, who tries with great difficulty to shut it down, a pirate radio broadcast less-than-rosy news and support for striking workers. In this setting, you play as Hego, an electronic repariman who hates his job and his “tyrannical” boss*, and dreams of being a radio celebrity. You’d leave everything behind if you had the opportunity.
*lol on his name

In this setting, the prose is fairly light-hearted, with the occasional sarcastic comment in that French humour kind of way. There are many references in the text and options, like Jupiter Inter being the futurist counterpart of France Inter, a radio channel. The main reference of the game (and the series at large) is about freedom of broadcasting, which was a political fight in France in the late 70s-early 80s, with the broadcasting monopole being abolished with President Mitterrand.

Anyway, your world turns upside-down when you either decode the strange message coming from your radio from the start or after meeting your favourite radio celebrity - the first choice affect which path you take, but the branches meet back at one same point. That choice, however, ends up being the only meaningful one of the story. While you have other “choices” down the line, they end up being either false choices (just there for variation/move the story along) or forcing you to re-do the choice again until you pick the correct option.

With the entry being a prologue to a supposedly much larger series, it makes sense that the story with little deviation to the main path, as you will need continuity with the following parts of the series. But it would have been nice to maybe have some alternative paths, maybe towards non-canon endings, or making some actions feel like they have more impact.

I’d be interested to see how Hego gets out of the situation he’s currently in.

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Retrouvailles - Reunion, by Lou Morens

Note: this game is also available in English.

Retrouvailles is a multi-POV sci-fi kinetic story created in Twine, part of a larger multimedia universe Mémoires d’un Veilleur/Veillorz. It took me at least 2h to go through it all.
This release is a recounting of two linked events, which one of the protagonist, Jack, mentions to be one of his fondest memory. Following the disappearance of a group of scientist in some far away site, a special task force, led by Jack, is entrusted to investigate the situation. However, the investigation is sidetracked due to past trauma and unresolved baggage, forming and strengthening new relationships. The second event happens a couple of years later, with part of the team returning to the scene of the crime. Those events are told through three POVs (Alex, Jack, and Solène), which you can read separately or synchronously.

Interactivity-wise, there isn’t much to do but go back and forth in the story, change POV, or language. Which makes sense, considering the author categorised the entry as a book on itch. Though, it would have been nice to have some sort of agency, if not in the story itself, maybe in the investigation part (like looking on the site, or running test, or going through the scientists affairs - each with a different POV).

On the narrative side, I was confused for a while about what was happening. Though the mystery is the framing of the story, it often stays in the background of inter-personal issues between the three protagonist (Jack, Alex, Solène), with the location of the event heightening their emotions. Having the different POVs helps framing some situations, especially the past of the characters through their inner monologues.

A romance between two of the characters ends up taking centre stage, pushing the story forward, by the end. This personally made me uncomfortable, due to the strong age gap and power difference, especially with how Jack refers to Solène when trying to flirt with her. Their rekindling in the second chapter, while in character for both of them, didn’t particularly made me wish to root for them.

A neat thing from the prose: it exclusively uses French inclusive writing.

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Croquemitaine, by Chaotic.Assets

Croquemitaine is a short Visual Novel following Érika Wolfenstein*, on a mission to retrieve an artifact from a faraway planet. The mission is rather dangerous, but the protagonist is not so worried, being a highly competent and knowledgeable agent. Though your choices are limited, as the game is incomplete, you are given two main paths of action to reach the artifact, each with its own sets of tribulations being introduced… when the game ends abruptly.
*any relation to the video game?

Still, it is possible to parse what to expect from further updates of the game: you will have an adventure (to find and retrieve the artifact), resolve a mystery (what the heck is actually happening on this planet?), and maybe have a romantic entanglement or twenty (you were tasked to seduce the inhabitants for some reason). With the currently intriguing worldbuilding, diverting character, and pretty design, there is quite a bit of potential with this one!

will we be able to smooch the vampires?

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Will be skipping Sur l’inévitable because I am currently stuck halfway. It’s neat so far, but I’d like to finish it before reviewing it.

Panique à Mandonez, by Julien Z / smwhr

Panique à Mandonez is a fun little mystery game made in Ink, where you play as Camille, the friend of Comtesse de Peyrian who recently disappeared. Taking the first bus to Mandonez, you will do everything to find your friend, and maybe… uncover a darker plot.

It was fun to investigate the village, talk to the different inhabitants, and solve the different mysteries. You need to interact with different elements to get to the next bit of the game (like make a character leave the room to search through it), and the concise prose gives you just enough hint on what you should be doing next*. And, like every good mystery, it has twist on twist on twist!
*when in doubts: pick the options from bottom to top…

It was short, but I enjoyed myself quite a bit. A neat and polished short game.

Only slightly related, but opening a drawer to see Vous trouvez une demi-douzaine de boîtes de calissons. on the screen was so funny to me. Then it made me a bit sad, because it wasn’t real and calissons are delicious…

4 Likes

L’Orsimonous, by Louphole

L’Orsimonous is an interactive monologue written in Ink, in which you reflect on the concept and changes of the ‘orsimonous’, when you realise your father’s has disappeared. The piece is fairly linear, with the many choices seemingly affecting only the following paragraph (or so). Here, it is more about the mediation of the words than the inherent interaction that is important. As if the text was pushing you to question yourself, on what ‘orsimonous’ could mean, on families and relationships, on the past and the future, on life and death.

As far as I could tell/find, ‘orsimonous’ is a concept created for this IF (I had to double check, just in case), some sort of veil/halo-like thing on the line between metaphysical and tangible, ever-so changing with the person’s moods, feelings, and understanding. Or at least, this is how I took the concept, influenced by the moody blurry animated background. A reflection, maybe of your soul?

There was something captivating with the prose. Simple, maybe even mundane, talking about life. I can’t put my finger on it, so I kept restarting it, trying all the options to read all the different bits of text, hoping to find why. I still don’t know. It was bewitching.

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Ok, now that I’ve finished it, I can talk about…

Sur l’inévitable, by paravaariar

Note: this is the French translation of Sobre lo inevitable

Sur l’inévitable is a short, relatively simple parser, where you find yourself prisoner inside an empty sand castle. Through the window, you see an army on white horses ready to charge. You will have to find a way to escape (or stop them) before it is too late.

With its charming retro interface, this game takes us on a gratifying escape adventure filled with illusions. The puzzles are relatively simple (if you enter every room and use the magic action on everything x.x), and if your path crosses enemies, you’ll be teleported right back in your cell, back to the start… with all your inventory and previous actions still there. It’s pretty handy as a mechanic, you get to explore all the rooms without having to worry to re-unlock a door, or pick up an object again. Not just so, but “dying” even ends up helping unlocking other puzzles !

I also like the allegories of the different armies fighting endlessly, and the dreamy and surreal descriptions of the castle and its specter-like inhabitants. It was magical, in a creepy way. I think I understood the mystery setting before getting to the end, but it felt nice being right xD

Lovely work!

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Thought I could finish it yesterday, but it was longer than I anticipated. Maybe like 2 good hours? And I used to cheat trick mentioned in-game to get to the end faster.

Vesna, by Korwen

Vesna is a fantasy Twine games about stories and telling stories. Wanting to leave everything behind, especially other people (because l’enfer c’est vraiment les autres…), you stumble upon the empty village of Vesna. Between the dilapidated buildings, and the clear signs of abandonment, you happily settle yourself to enjoy the peace and quiet. Until… you find Liv, the village’s chief, who promise you an easy-going life and fixed up village, if you attract passers-by with your stories. As you do so, breathing new life into the village, you will learn about its past, how it came to end up in this state, and a mysterious secret…

The game revolves around two fun mechanics: telling stories and exploring the village’s surroundings.
. In the first, you are able to craft stories by picking the genre, moving sliders to find the correct balance of emotions, and choose some themes. The first and last options are limited at the start. Recount your story under a tree to passers-by, who will either tell you that you should definitely give up and be ashamed of yourself because you have no skills or ask you if you were blessed by the Gods and oh please take the bard’s spot because your stories are absolutely perfect. You will also gain some reputation (which will attract more people) and some coins.

With the second, you can start mini adventures around the village, meeting people (and recruiting them into your cult inviting them to live in the village), items to decorate your house, and maybe find inspirations for stories (like new genre or themes). The adventures are random but varied (I did about a dozen I think, and it might not even count for half of those), some seemingly inspired from old tales. And this helps avoid the grind-ness of the story telling mechanic.

When you gain enough reputation, you are able to upgrade the village - like adding a market square or old temples. Some of these locations can be visited, with a few having extra interactions and collectibles. While you cannot build everything (which made my completionist heart sad), it is fun to see the description of the village change, as you see more people settling in. I do wish there would be something to do with every unlocked location rather than a few of those, like buy things at the market or pray to other gods, or even talk to the characters you recruted.

I’ve quite enjoyed playing the game, and discovering the secret of the village, getting there bit-by-bit (or page by page) through talking to the different NPCs, and see my reconstructions pay off.

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Zigamus : Zombies au Vigamus, by Marco Vallarino, Ginevra Van Deflor

This is the French translation of the 2016 game: Zigamus: Zombies at Vigamus, which was an IFComp entry for that year.

Zigamus : Zombies au Vigamus is a parser game set in a video game museum, where you must fight a horde of zombies to escape (and save the museum, maybe) - zombies that appeared when you tried the museum’s new game. Because the zombies came from a video game, defeating them won’t always be as straight forward as just hitting or shooting them.

I found myself being frustrated with the game, as synonyms are not always implemented (I can “play game” but can’t “play arcade” for example) or actions giving an incorrect reply (hitting a zombie with a game cartridge gave me an error message that I couldn’t hit it with a chainsaw), or just getting a ‘this is not important’ when interacting with a mentioned item. I’m sure there was logic behind some of the actions you have to take, based probably on some mystical game lore, but I’m still confused about the dentures…
I ended up checking the Club Floyd’s transcript of the English version to get passed some of the blocks

Though it is possible to get all 50 points when completing the game, you can also fail miserably by trying to fight the main boss before getting all the items around the museum or fighting all the zombies (and here I thought killing the big baddy would insta-kill everything I might have missed). I don’t thing you can’t win the game without all 50 points anyway.

Not enjoying zombies, I appreciated the version without the images on the side. Also, since part of the puzzle is rescuing NPCs, I did like being able to take my time to get to and save them.

transcript.txt (13.8 KB)

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Next one is me, so we can skip that. If you’ve played my previous entry to the French Comp, it’s completely different interactive-wise. More writing, less clicking everywhere.

Anyway, neeext…

Le chaudron d’Anaritium, by Open Adventure

Note: this game is on a separate platform, that requires you to open an account. It’s pretty quick.

Le chaudron d’Anaritium is an interactive mystery made in Open Adventure (the author and system is one), set in a Gaul village at the dusk of a dreary winter. You play as Isara, a bard-in-training tasked to find a missing artefact before the gods turn on the village. Will you find the artefact and its thief? and figure out the why and the how?

On the Open Adventure platform, you are introduced to the mystery at hand, and the different paths you can investigate, whether it be visiting locations or talking to other characters. As you find more clues, new paths may be open to you. Along with two large maps, some paths are also illustrated, in a watercoloured comic-style.
Every path taken is listed one below the other, in a way that you can re-read them with ease. The engine also lets you know when you’ve already visited a section, and only puts forward on the main page the most interesting location for you to visit.

The prose is quite lovely as well, bringing to life an atmospheric setting, filled with mysticism and legends.

And when you believe you’ve solved the mystery, you can fill in your answers to the different questions in a text box, before how correct you were and get the epilogue. But, because of how the game is set up, you’ll never truly be wrong at the end. The website collects the answer and gives you the solution right away, regardless of how close you were to the truth. So while the mystery was interesting, and fairly simple to figure out, I wished there would be a bit of a consequence to who you accuse of the crime or explain how you think things happened.

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CINERIP, by Wilem Ortiz

CINERIP is a surreal and horror interactive story made in Moiki. Freshly moved into a new city, you and your parter are invited to a secret free preview of a movie, an adaptation of a book you like quite a bit. So secret that you are given special instructions to get into the screening. Will you tempt the fates to see this much awaited masterpiece?

This was truly a wild and creepy experience. From the start, you are introduced as someone with stressors, unwilling to get yourself out there (maybe because of your past? probably because of who you are), needing to be pushed and pulled to meet people. Doubts often cross your mind at propositions of meeting people and having fun in social situations. Are your worries unfounded here? Maybe, maybe not… I didn’t expect where the story was taking me, not in the way that it did after reading the warnings. But I was engrossed in the whole so quickly that I restarted the game again and again trying to find all 500+ screens (I’m at 363…).

The narration gives just enough to hint at something greater, without revealing the big moment. Tensions slowly rises, from doubts crossing your mind to more anxiety-filled moments heightened by the Quick Time Event mechanic and strident background music. One sequence has a deep voice reading the words on the screen (the author’s?) which was so creepy!

This was a really neat game.

If someone found the combination for the door, please let me know! I still don’t know how to get my comb back :sob:

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Un Songe sans fin, by Lilie Bagage

Un Songe sans fin is a relatively short Moiki game where you play as the Mère Michel (from the nursery rhyme), a depressed older woman, who lost her cat, her partner and her job, AND can’t manage to sleep anymore. You were prescribe a strong pill to help, which… worked a bit too well. Will you find a way out of this strange and surreal place? Will you manage to wake up?

Being in a dream, the setting is obviously surreal (you first meet cats playing AIR-PING-PONG!), the objects around you are nonsensical too (the BABELFISH xD)…
and your available actions are not even closer to logical either. In the great French IF tradition, you can lick and taste many objects, like you would… the sun (which you can pick up, at your own risk and peril…). The prose is humorous to boot!

What cracked me up the most, was the Prairie Informe section. This game was originally meant to be a parser in Inform, but, due to time constraint, was transferred to Moiki at the last moment. Still, remnants of the other engine can be found in the page layout, choices available, and responses. It does give extra charm to the game.

Really a fun and cheeky time.

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One last one for the road… I am skipping a bunch of entries to play a short one…
It was created on the day of the deadline, in 4h.

Immobilistes, by BenyDanette

Immobilistes is a micro interactive piece made in Decker, where you are tasked to determine the danger/risk level of a radical group called “les immobilistes”. You are given instructions and a database of elements to analyse and render judgement (not dangerous, maybe a bit, suuuuper dangerous). That is… if you find how to access the database: in the textbox, press the letters very slowly, there’s a delay between you entering a letter and the game reacting.

The documents are fantastic to go through. Between pictures, exchanges between the characters, transcriptions of journals, formal interview… everything creates a strange and almost conspirational web around the two instigators. The political and judicial climate of the game feels extremely real and topical. It is both chilling and strangely hopeful, in some way? Having to make the decision at the end is hard, no matter how you read the file…
ha, 42

Though short, the game is very intriguing, whether it is the lore or the setting, or even the reasons for you to investigate the group, forcing you to fill in the blanks at times. It is becoming a trend with game from the author (which I really like, all the unsaid and mystery).
I would be very interested to play an extremely long version of this game where you also to the investigating… or having to deal with the consequences of your judgement.

Decker is a very fun system but also finicky…

EDIT: WELP I MISSED LIKE HALF OF THE GAME THE FIRST TIME, SO THE REVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED

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I am giving up on the order, sorry…

Un foyer étudiant, by Fantome Apparent

Un foyer étudiant is a relatively short interactive game made in INK, when you are a student, moving to the capital. Not being able to stay with relatives, you check out a student residence, to see if it works for you. The game is meant to be a prologue for a larger project.

Though the setting might seem mundane, the game has a lot more than it lets on. Sure, you can learn about the different accommodations in the building, and how the current residents are behaving, or what you should expect. You can talk to the receptionist for information, a group of bros (limited questions), and a woman reading silently, each being more or less useful in giving you answers. And then… there’s the bulleting board. Filled with flyers of all sorts, you might end up going down a rabbit hole of informations, both random and relevant to the setting. From available activities to random art pieces, students looking for love or pawning their books, there is a lot you can learn there.

This game is very rich in details, and it makes you wanting to learn more about what is truly happening in the building (there are some hints of a mystery afoot). But I wished we knew a bit more about our character, considering the implications of certain elements. Finding accommodations as a student requires money, and the NPCs mention that as well when describing the different room types, but when you sign up there are no mention of this (who signs up for a room without even checking the prices?).

I do wonder how the story will continue.

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La roche tombée du ciel., by Piccopol

La roche tombée du ciel. is a short fantasy demo made in Moiki, where you play as some sort of old herbalist getting ready for the tax collector’s visit in a couple of days. The problem is, you are certain you won’t be able to meet what is demanded in time, your bones are too old and it is too early in the season. Until, something comes visit you at night…

Out of the 4 expected playable day, you are able to play two of them: one where a neighbour warns you of the early tax visit, and one where that “something” arrives. Each of these days, you are able to tend to your garden, checking on each plant, watering them or giving them extra fertiliser, or check your notes. To keep you warm, you might even need to cut down a tree and get some wood. There’s EVEN A DOG YOU CAN PET AND PLAY WITH!

But you are limited in what you can do. Because you are old, these actions will take you quite a bit of energy (expect playing with the dog), which is only filled up by sleeping (which includes too many empty passages imo). Honestly, I could have played this loop for the rest of the game and feel very content with the game (I’m a sucker for those management-type games).

Still, I am intrigued to see how the mysterious “something” will come to play here.

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La Fabrique des Princes, by No Game Without Stakes

La Fabrique des Princes is a philosophical satirical story made in Twine, inspired by Machiavelli’s The Prince. Here, you play a Prince on its last of Prince-in-training. But before you can set your behind on a thrown and rule the lands, you must prove you are worthy enough of the title, by winning a debate. Unless, you choose another path…

Though you could march right down the corridor and be done with the debate, the game nudges you to get ready for the fight, with the right costume and tools in your arsenal, which you can buy with coins, which you can earn by testing your knowledge of The Prince. (It felt good to get all the answers right, not going to lie…) But there are also other actions you can take, like listening to some tales, or exploring the surroundings of the building.

The debate is essentially a one-punch fight, a fairly arduous one, where chance matters quite a bit. I wasn’t sure whether you were actually supposed to win the fight (I kept reloading my save, and trying again without success), but there is. You need to have juuuuust the right tool and be incredibly lucky. Though, having found the other ending, I’ve been wondering if you were meant to win the fight, after all. As, instead of following the path predestined to you as a Prince, you choose your own, one where your name may not be remembered.

Aside from the passages with the timed text (which weren’t as fast as they maybe should have), it was a pretty interesting experience!

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Yorouba Un prince venu d’ailleurs, by Jo97

Yorouba Un prince venu d’ailleurs is a kinetic Twine story about a non-human being (re)incarnated as a man, and the mysticism around him. Part of the story in the human world is set in and around Gombe, a commune of the DRC.

Due to the writing style, it is quite hard to get into the story. With the peculiar and unusual syntax, the prose will often go from one topic to the next with barely a punctuation mark or a return to the line. Often, characters will change name, going from to the other without much of an explanation (I think they are the same people, just a different way of writing the name).

I did struggle to try to find sense in this story, which was not helped by the way it was structure on the page and from one page to the next either. The game starts with Episode 1, moving then to Episode 7, then coming back to a different Episode 1, which was followed on the same page with Episode 2 and 3. Where were the other Episodes? Were they locked behind the unselectable choices? (A closer look a the file shows that they are nowhere to be found.) Am I missed something?

Trying to piece out the elements to make something cohesive proved difficult. I think I left the game more confused than when I got in…

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Larme à gauche, by fuegosuave

Larme à gauche is a slice-of-life game made in Twine, when you play as Gloria, a young woman living in Brussels, who drove down with her partner Lucy to the Pyrenees for the funeral of her grand-father, a former general in Franco’s army. She had not seen her grand-father since she was very young, as well as most of the family will may be meeting today.

Don’t speak ill of the dead. Family must stick together. Family above all. These were the perfidious sayings that kept crossing my mind as I was going through the different paths and learning about the different characters and their relationships. Sayings written white on black on the screen, said even by some of the characters, as Gloria struggles to find her place in the matter. Between her grand-father who committed atrocities, a father who could not see the truth, and other family members who didn’t seem to care much about her, what is she left with…

The game deals with difficult topics, uncomfortable ones. But does so with a strong and touching story.

3 Likes

I edited a previous review (Immobilistes) because I had missed half of the game.
Also, last one for today!

Les Trois-cités : les préludes d’une odyssée, by PasteourS

Les Trois-cités : les préludes d’une odyssée is an incomplete RPG game made in Twine, wherein you play as a dwarf looking to save their brother from a magical mushroom-related illness. The game based on CYOA gamebooks with dice-gameplay elements, with options to choose your class, getting equipment and potions, and levelling up your stats. RNG will be your best friend and greatest enemy here.

There is a lot you can do here. Along your main fetch-quest to find the required ingredients to save your brother, you will quickly stumble upon other side-quests – exploration of the city and interaction with other NPCs being necessary to get the ingredients. As in any fantasy setting, quests will range from finding missing characters, fighting brigands and thieves, resolving arguments, helping the less-than-fortunate, and even levying the taxes.

Though it is not in its complete form, you will easily spend a handful of hours to get through what is currently there: three cities are mentioned, two being accessible, and one being complete with dozens of neighbourhoods.
While maps are provided, showing where you are on the page and a couple of the available locations, you cannot click on it to move to other place – only adjacent spots are selectable through a list of links (no teleporting or fast travel unfortunately, it’s a bit annoying when going from one end to the city to the other).

It is obvious there was a lot of work put into the game, and even if I think I found myself stuck in an impossible place, it was pretty neat. If the other cities end up becoming as thought out and detailed as the starting one, it would make for a pretty epic adventure.

Alright. Only 2 left. But one needs me to install an emulator and the other one is freaking huge. So tomorrow probably.

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We’re almost dooonnnneeee

Le Bastion de la Porte, by Gavroche Games

Le Bastion de la Porte is a fantasy game made in Moiki, where you play as Salma, a Trimolienne in the land of Sargh, as the newly appointed lonely guardian of the Door up high in the mountain. Your task is to guard the door, and try (but not pressure) any passers-by not to cross it. What is behind the door? No one knows, as no one has ever come back from it. How will you handle that task? Will you let everyone through or force them to turn back? Will you go through the door yourself as your predecessor has?

The job, however, is a lonely one. Aside from your monthly delivery (with the best boi Ernest!), few climb up the mountain, wanting to reach the mysterious landmark. But when they do, you get to listen to their stories, ask some questions (and maybe answer theirs), maybe share some wine, and potentially change their fate. There is never a right or wrong answer, though maybe some will make you question your ethics and morals. It is touching and emotional, and makes you reflect on what is important.

Throughout the story you get may be able to ponder on the meaning of the door and what it could represent. One character might make you think it is simply an allegory for moving on to the next plane, another as a escape from danger and difficulties, a final one as a celebration to dive into the unknown. It is quite interesting how one single thing can represent widely different concepts.

While it is already pretty entertaining (and with an impressive count of over 900 screens), I wished we could have had more during the downtime. You are able to interact with elements around the house, though it is sparse and does not change much between periods. You can always take the same shower, reel in some water from the well, pick up some dried meat, and look yourself in the mirror or at you sparse house décor. And when you do, the text seems to be the same (or fairly similar).
It would have been interesting to maybe do some activities to spruce up the hut, like gardening or fixing the roof, remark upgrades done by the Fédération after you complain about things, picking up a hobby…
And, being able to wait for time to pass in other spots than your bed, like at the desk doing some writing or doodling, or sitting by the fire, and when during the spring/summer, maybe waiting outside on a log enjoying the nice weather.

The game page indicates further updates, which would include missing chapters and other types of gameplay, are to be expected. I’m looking forward to those.

EDIT: +1 always for cats and being able to pet them

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