Letters, by Madison Evans (IF Comp 2016) - Review by Ruber.

Letters by Madison Evans is another of those work that I though it would place worst, because I didn’t like it very much. So I feel weird posting this, so better to take my criticism with a pinch of salt.


Interesting concept that doesn’t live to its premise.

Mobile friendly: almost, but comfortable to play.

General: Interesting premise. At first it feels another game of consulting a database to learn a whole story from pieces and scraps. You are in a desk with a lot of previously undelivered letters of someone who seems have passed away. However, instead of having a semi random interesting interface where we could parse all letters bit by bit, the game has a traditional twine structure, and this just don’t fit the topic and theme and story.

Eventually you reach the end of the tree and you find an irritating “Start over” link, to begin from the start. It is irritating the fifth time you find that. I think a premise like this requieres a somewhat simulation of the space (like in Her Story or 500 apocalypses), a way of pick always random letters, a way to sort them, a way to not to read the already read letters. That is a way to not repeat the same texts again and again, or the same loops again and again.

The content is mildy interesting. Yes it describes the life, the way, and the death of a beautiful girl. But it is somewhat on the nose. There’s nothing much to discover there because the death is just there, almost at the beginning. It is not meant to be a mystery like in Her Story, but, I think the game should have be designed to provide more interest to the player

Apart of the structure problems, there’s a big problem with the voice of the game. At first, it seems that it is just that, the letters, in the writing and voice of her, that those are not of my tastes, but later there are passages that has flashbacks, or sequences where the protagonist is me, I mean you, the player. It just don’t feel right, because there’s no homogeneity in the use of those. It feels random. Or improvised. Sometimes you have just letters, sometimes a flashback is thrown to the mixture, sometimes you the player has a voice that narrates the feelings upon the act of reading those letters. It is a little mixed up.

Score: In the end I didn’t like it very much, and the start over mechanic annoyed me so much. Not recommended.