Have you played anything as powerful as SPY INTRIGUE in the last years?

Reading Furkle’s lengthy twine piece is the most impactful experience I have had as a IF enjoyer. The prose was so truthful, it felt strange to have your own garbled thoughts sent back to you, but with such beauty and artistry. SPY INTRIGUE doesn’t hit close to home, it IS home. I have rarely felt so aligned with an artist and his/her art. It’s the kind of writing of a person who, in order to survive with his/her own thoughts, has had to find the comedic side of those moments of grief, as well as surgically tear them apart to find some peace of mind.

Years later, nobody talks about it, which is unfortunate, it’s one of my favorite IF titles.
Has anything similar come out in the recent years? Have you come across something that has impacted you? I know that a lot of you are way more knowledgeable than me, are there any hidden gems you think need the spotlight?

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You have intrigued me. I wanna take a gameplay with this title. 0_o

Wellcome to the IF community. Play, enjoy and comment.

I haven’t played Spy Intrigue since I wasn’t as engaged with IF through most of the teens, but it’s on my list of things to catch up on since I’ve read some of the discussion around it, including Emily Short’s recent appreciation, which make it seem really great. So with the enormous caveat that I have no idea what I’m talking about, I do have two recommendations for games that I think are maybe doing sorta-similar things to Spy Intrigue (literary, semi-dissociative, nontraditional, BIG):

First, Accelerate, by Mother/The TAV Institute. I’ve linked the IFDB page, but I think there was a recent thread indicating it’s a little tricky to get it to run – ah, here it is, seems like it should still work. Oh, and huh, now that I look at the IFDB page, it’s actually explicitly listed as a sequel to Spy Intrigue? Hadn’t noticed that before, but I’m feeling better about my stab-in-the-dark guesses!

I’ll quote from my review to give a sense of what it’s about:

Though the introduction to the game is intentionally jumbled up and disorienting, what’s going on here is relatively straightforward – the protagonist, an inhabitant of a repressive and despoiled future that is not different from today in any significant respect, feels a kind of internal brokenness. They check themselves into a sort of clinic, partially to score some drugs, but eventually enter into the spirit of the program, which involves transformation and transcendence of the self (the body, the mind, the soul – transgenderism is a strong element here but isn’t, I think, the whole of what’s going on). However, it turns out that the program doesn’t stop there, and is also focused on external change – soon the protagonist is going on high-stakes missions to disrupt capitalism, government, and religion, and in the climax hijacks a spaceship-chariot and storms the Garden of Eden to immanetize the eschaton by exploding the demiurge with a cancer-bomb.

There’s a lot more in that review on themes, interactivity, and so on, if you’d like to know more before downloading a gig’s worth of game. But I’d just add that the thing is written really really well, incredibly visceral with disorienting prose that focuses on emotion and affect while still giving you enough to go on.

Second, Queenlash, by Kaemi Velatet. Again, I’ll quote from my review:

Queenlash is Finnegans Wake except instead of it being about Irishness (I think?) and a wake (probably?) it’s about feminism (sorta?) and the end of Ptolemaic Egypt (I’m on firm ground on this bit). Oh, and sometimes armies get annihilated by giant laser beams shooting out from the Pharos of Alexandria, plus it’s hypertext… What we’ve got here is a Twine novel in 22 chapters, centering on Cleopatra (VII, the one you’ve heard of) and running from the last phases of her internecine struggles with her siblings through her personal and political alliance with Caesar and ending with her death after his assassination and the ensuing Roman civil war. There’s clearly a deep knowledge of the history (including understanding which bits of the received story are likely scurrilous lies made up by unfriendly chroniclers), though the author does make some departures from fact, of which see more below. The writing is a dense, dreamlike, allusive stew – it’s basically a series of prose-poems, over 200,000 words’ worth from my quick peek at the html source.

My review does bang on a bit about some things I experienced as flaws – the hypertext-style interactivity can lead to not getting important bits of the story – but Queenlash has probably the most impressive prose of anything I’ve seen in IF, and is again incredibly engaging and affecting.

If you give these a try, I hope you enjoy them – much like Spy Intrigue, I don’t think they’ve gotten the attention they merit so I’m happy to get a chance to offer a plug!

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Thanks for the recommendations, Mike! I don’t how I would have found out about Spy Intrigue having a sequel, I can barely find any information about both the work and the author! Now I can’t even find who makes up The TAV Institute, I guess the authors like their privacy. The INTRIGUE is rising, now I have to play through Accelerate! I’ll make sure to check out Queenlash too. I also stumbled upon the works of Phantom Williams by review hopping on the site, so I’ll try Summit at some point.

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I still have to play SPY INTRIGUE, but looking inside my feelings searching for those impactful games you describe, I will recommend howling dogs, and With those we love alive, both by Porpentine.

But those are not hidden gems, both are highly acclaimed contemporary works.

I have read both those, very good recommendations Ruber. I wish Porpentine made longer titles since for me more lenghty reads are more impactful as they take the time to build layers of depth. But I also understand that putting so much work into something that’s not going to be profitable is next to impossible, which explains why twine pieces are usually so short.

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I agree with this! I haven’t read anything that hit as hard as SPY INTRIGUE in a while. It is so so amazing. It deserves to be more widely known.

As for games like SPY INTRIGUE, Solarium and (especially) We Are the Firewall by Anya DeNiro are both earlier games that have somewhat similar vibes, chaotic and hard-hitting. The latter is especially underrated imo. consciousness hologram also has those vibes. Same for everything by Porpentine but you already know that.

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