Reviewing the Dialogue Jam ~ Let's get talking!

Already a week late to the party, but let’s get check out some dialogue (or monologue, letters, text messages, etc… SOME EXCHANGES IN SOME FORM).

The entries can be found here:

And are Listed on the IFDB:

On to the revieeeewwwwssss

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Thank you for the reminder. It looks like a lot of nice games to play.

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Lol I start a thread and then… don’t post. Good job me.

Anyway, let’s get this cracking

Who Stole My Sausages?, by estif, interstitial, CliffRaven, mackhep07

Who Stole My Sausages is a quirky little mystery made in Twine, centred around the theft of a package of sausages in a communal fridge of a student house. With your background in psychology, you are chosen as the mandated detective. With its light-hearted tone, you end up encountering a lot of sausage-related puns (like when you choose your name at the start, PI Porkins).

The mechanic of the game is fairly simple: interview your housemates, find flaws in their rebuttal and confront them about it, and… solve the mystery. You will need quite a bit of back and forth between the different NPCs to unlock the true ending (any wrong reveal will send you back right into the action).

The interface is pretty cool, as it was made to look like a Visual Novel, with sprites of the different NPCs, separate backgrounds for each location, and cool background music to match. While it is getting more common to see Twine games with a custom interface, it is not every day that you see a Visual Novel made in Twine.

The story itself relies on twists and half-truth, with a shocking ending that no one could have predicted (wink wink if you check the suspects list before making up your mind…). It works as intended.
Though, I do have a bit of a quip when it comes to the overused trope of the vegetarian who will still eat meat in secret here and there because :woman_shrugging: why have moral convictions…

EDIT: I forgot to add, but it would have been nice if there was a way to review all the statements viewed.

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I don’t want to talk about it., by Nick Gelling

I don’t want to talk about it. is an emotional short Ink game about grief and connections. Set in a therapy office, you meet with a patient who recently lost someone and is reluctantly going through grief counselling. It is heartbreaking but also beautiful, in the way the story unfolds, as you ask the patient more questions and try to help them talk about the person they lost and what they are struggling with the most.
A beautifully made and executed short entry.

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How Do You Like Your Pain?, by catsket

Due to the nature of the game, it is meant for 18+ players.

How Do You Like Your Pain? is a short grim visual novel made in Ren’Py about a demon looking for death, or at the very least learning what death feels like. Contracting a painful disease, which he inflicted on himself willingly, the demon must now endure a painful operations to remove it, lest the pain would make him wish for actual death. The procedure is done by another demon, who finds amusement in the situation.
While the game is part of the Art Without Blood series, knowledge of the other entries is not required, the game being enjoyable as is. There are 4 endings in this game, through my choices, I found 2.

Formatted only as a dialogue (even the choices), the two characters get into a dance of quips and flirting. The writing circles between dark violence and borderline eroticism in the way it interacts with the flesh. The implication of pain, whether it happens during the game or prior to the story unfolding, looking for it before being forced to endure it as so to reduce it is masochistic but really grasping. The pursuit of knowledge about death backfiring, making you wish for or afraid of death…
It is uncomfortable but drawing to the point you can’t take your eyes away from the screen (ironic considering the procedure).

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That is one of my pet peeves too!! I have to admit it worked well for this game, but I still had a “sigh…” moment on encountering it.

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Continuing again today…

Marooned, by DigNZ

Marooned is a short dialogue piece made in Ink between two castaways on an island, waiting to be rescued… though your castaway-partner has other ideas. The story starts around the 6-month mark, and shows snippets of (frustrating/ed) conversations of a handful of days. Through your choices, you can reach different endings - I’ve found two so far.

The writing takes the less is more approach, going right to the absolute bare of dialogues to describe the situation the characters are in, the frustration one feels towards the other, their wants and wish. I quite enjoyed both endings, giving different vibes to the story (though the rescuing being a choice removed from the original PC’s actions feels a bit strange).

Honestly, it’s a wonder they were still alive by the time the game started.

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Come back soon, Oddie, by helen

Come back soon, Oddie is a short linear Visual Novel, formatted mainly as a monologue from an unnamed soul, waiting for their friend, Oddie. The soul, shown as a shadow in a field of yellow flower (symbolising friendship), awaits the death of his friend, so they can be once more reunited - though he still wishes for Oddie to live a long and happy life until then.

Aside from its gorgeous interface and calming music, this game also includes voices, narrating the text with an emotional tone, balancing longing and grief. It is quite touching, the way the words are said aloud. It was really lovely.

I also didn’t expect Oddie’s actual name…

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Last one for today:

The Impossible Conversation, by justsharyn

The Impossible Conversation is, like its name suggest, an impossible conversation, or at least one that will probably not lead to a happy ending in its current form. You (an unnamed person) is having a conversation is your (probably former) best-friend following an unexplained conflict. Your choices in where you bring the conversation forward should influence how your relationship with the person go.

Due to the nature of the conversation, the writing is heartbreaking and painful. The end of relationships are hard, especially when people have strong bonds with one another, and it is the more painful when both parties have hurt one another (though, in this case, the hurt seems more one-sided). The bareness of the interface (keeping to the base Harlowe UI) and interactivity (click to show the next words) does add to the struggle and dreariness of the situation.

Though, having to click for every single sentence does end up being a tad frustrating halfway through the conversation…

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It’s saturday and I have no plans, so let’s see how many entries we can knock out:

An Exercise in Emotional Honesty, by pixeldotgamer

An Exercise in Emotional Honesty is a short conversation between you and (I think) the author of the game, where the latter opens up to ongoing struggles with their health and creative drives. Made in Twine, the interface and use of music emulates a light Visual Novel genre, where the sprite changes along with the conversation, smiling at you or looking away.

There is a very comforting and sweet vibe to the piece as a whole, and the warmth of sitting down with an old friend to catch up. And the discussion itself were quite lovely, opening up this way about the want (nay, need) to create but being unable to. Really nice.

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A Winter Away, by roman_hyacinths/Jaylus

A Winter Away is a high-quality short visual novel about a Duckling moving to a foreign region to follow her dream, exchanging letters with the ageing mother she feels guilty having left behind.

Between the dialogue, the letters received, and the ones composed, you get an emotional story exploring the hardships and fulfilments of moving to a different place - I so could relate to this, having moved quite a bit myself… It’s hard! People you love now live far away, and you can’t just drop in for a chat or a hug. You don’t get to be there for the big moments. The things you are used to do or have might not be possible. And it can feel pretty alienating if you are not fluent in the language. But it can be so fulfilling, too. Meeting new people, learning new things, finding passions… With the limited length, the game managed to encapsulate all this.

The game itself is so beautifully done, I can’t believe it was made in just 5 DAYS. It is so polished in its presentation, with the SFX used, the different illustrations and sprites… it reminded me a bit of children’s book in the style. It’s really lovely!

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Off the Podium — One Last Lap, by Kaiser Vox

I think this is the only (?) entry that is not just in English. Our first Portuguese (br) entry for the NeoInteractive Jams!

Off the Podium — One Last Lap is a ChoiceScript game set around a GP race, where you play a middle-of-the-ranking driver on their last race, before they retire. Through conversation with your team, friends and family, you can learn about the state of your driver and how they ended up in this situation. You can also train for that last race, modify your vehicle, set a game plan and… start driving!

I don’t know much about racing competitions, aside from knowing cars go around a track as fast as they can without getting into troubles. Even through the technicalities of the sport (turns out there’s a lot more that goes into the driving), I was pretty engaged, trying to min/max my car’s stats so I could win the race (I never managed, is it even possible?). I learned a couple of stuff about the sport even (like you need some serious muscle neck strength).

The writing itself is separated into face-to-face dialogues and online/text exchanges between you and other characters (or voice commentators describing the race). There are a handful of non-race-related choices, though they mainly affect pronouns or names, rather than the story. There were also at times where you borderline on monologuing, creating pretty long paragraphs (maybe a bit too long for ease of reading).

I’ve done a few rounds, one losing the race badly, one reaching a qualifying spot (7th), and, unless I didn’t reach a high-enough spot, it seems the game only has one ending. And, strangely maybe, losing the race felt more fitting to that ending…

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Printjob, by aliason

Printjob is a horror short game about “labour and machinery” wherein you play as a job-seeker filling an application at the conglomerate Heavex. Soon, you a offered a job and must discover what your purpose in this company ends up being. What kind of cog will you become in this organisation?

The tension builds slowly, with you disregarding any potential red flag because you really need this job, before settling in and spreading all around you, taking over you. It is visceral and bleak, and with no option of escaping. For your job matters more than you, whatever that job ends up being.

However, as good of a job it does in the horror department, there is quite little dialogue. Most of the text is narrated, describing your situation rather than conversing, even describing past conversation rather than playing them out. I do wonder how more powerful it could have been had the entry followed the rule of the jam more closely…

Also makes me wonder whether it was influenced by The Stanley Parable game, it definitely has this vibe.

This is where I am, once more, reminded to properly check the entries when they are submitted, like actually play through them instead of making sure it’s not a spam, rather than two weeks after the deadline (a.k.a. when I finally have free time :joy: ) Oh well… EDIT: the mod team made a decision at the end.

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Him (and Us), by alyshkalia

Him (and Us) is a short conversation, made with Ink, between Theomer and Heron before dinner, though it starts with a bit of difficulty, as Theomer is awfully quiet. Playing as Heron, you have different ways of pushing your partner to talk, forcing him to reveal an unpleasant interaction prior to this.

There is only one ending to this entry, one where you finish the conversation with dinner. Though, whether you learn about the secret interaction will depend on your choices. (And it took me a few tries to finally get the right combo… which I got more by chance than by conscious choice).

Still, you don’t really learn who was the interlocutor (though it could be an easy guess), nor the reason for that interaction, only that it was not pleasant and you do not seem to arbour any good will towards that person. The silence answers it all…

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A Woman’s Duty, by psiquedelicous

A Woman’s Duty is a short epistolary game, made in Ink, set during some undisclosed war, where you, as Mary, correspond with your sister who has been sent to the front and another private who was put into contact with you. Through the exchanges, you learn of your family’s relationships, the state of the war, and the moral of your correspondents.

While you send about a dozen letters before the game abruptly ends, most of them only having some sort of variation in the content of your letters, you neither affect the fate of your correspondents with your words, nor the overall situation.
Granted, the latter could have been a big shot, but there is very little impact with your words, unlike what was promised in the blurb. Though, this is less obvious with the letters sent to the private, who seem to react to the different prompts you are given.

I wonder if the piece should have maybe focused on the correspondence of only one of the subject, rather than both, and explore that path more fully - maybe even affect their fate in some way.

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Just A Simple Interview, by Skal Ton

Just A Simple Interview is a widely branching short Twine… well, interview. You were one of the few to be selected for an interview with LazyTown HQ, for the cool position of Fix-It-Man! Aren’t you the lucky one! Now, you just need to ace-… Uh-ho…

Twist and turns awaits your interview, depending on the choices you make. Lore about the company and your interviewer can be discovered, leading you to many different endings (I have found 4 so far). And it’s really fun trying to explore all the different paths too, very humorous!
It was a quick one, but I had a lot of fun playing it!

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I spent the whole morning/afternoon fixing bugs, so playing games as a treat~

The Croaking, by Lakeshore Drive Games

The Croaking is a short train murder mystery, made in Unity, feeling like a 3D version of a bitsy game. Here, you play as Detective Luddington, a toad on the same car as a handful of colourful passengers going to a retreat. But, as expected of the genre, nothing goes as planned, and a murder occurs during the trip. And it is up to you to figure out what is what…

Go back an forth between the different NPCs, ask them questions, confront them about their statements, and accuse who you think is the most likely actor. While you can accuse anyone (and they will get arrested), only one person is the true murderer.

And the link to get there seems a bit broken, where you can ask that suspect a question, but can’t ask any other NPCs for confirmation or rebuttal - which is strange because you can accuse the actual murderer from the start. Restarting the game also seems to be broken - you need to refresh the page to actually restart it.

There was a bit of a mysterious setting, with all these different characters being part of some strange organisation (which may or may not sound like a cult). You only get bits and pieces, but it would have been interesting to see more of that aspect into the story.

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Circle Back, by czCastor

This is an incomplete review, since I couldn’t finish the game.

Circle Back is a short psychological horror visual novel, where you play as an unnamed employee in a big corporation, freshly promoted, the night before a big presentation. Except… you get locked into the bathroom.

Ensue some strange meetings and conversations, where you will not only have to confront things about your life and situation, but also will make you question your sanity (at the very least) and what’s really going on at work (seriously, what’s up with the dormitory?!?!?!), and maybe flirt a little bit.

I was really enthralled into the whole story, getting anxious when we found out the way out was locked, or you start hearings voices, or checked out the security system and…

the screen turned black. I hope this is just a small bug that can get fixed, because I really want to discover what’s really going with work. Because it’s really sus and I want to find out why!

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Syzygy, by HobbyLevelWorkingMother

Syzygy is a short but complex exchange of diplomatic communication between the Syzygy planet and the Sol System Alliance, where you are a Diplomat from the latter group. You must navigate a change of power within Syzygy, while a SSA fleet is on its way to the planet, as planned many years prior.

Your communication between the planet and the fleet are mainly done through letters, which you can craft to convey your message and wishes to the other party, and untangle the mess thrown in your lap. You will have to assess whether you can trust this new correspondent and whether you will need to warn the fleet before their arrival - is there more than the new ambassador lets on? Your words will affect the Alliance’s relationship with Syzygy, and the safety of the fleet.

And, when you have some down time, you get to chit-chat with your Assistant about the situation, or burn the midnight oil on reading the HHGG. Aside maybe from the Admiral, all the characters have fun and intriguing personality, leaving you wanting more by the end of the journey.

It was really fun to craft the messages and see what kind of responses I would get back. I purposefully pissed off the ambassador in one playthrough, while being overwhelmingly kind in the next one - resulting in surprising endings.

I did run into some little bugs though, which broke the game for one run, so best to get your coffee and read your poetry when you start the game, as so to avoid it :wink:

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pacodnd.exe, by Zenith

pacodnd.exe is a short interactive story focused on a group of friend trying out a Dungeons&Dragons campaign, through a chat form. During the session, you have a handful of choices that may or may not affect the ending… for all that matter in D&D is whether the RNG God is on your side (yes, apparently dice rolls affect the story!).

Though it’s pretty short, there are still four endings to find (only found 2 so far), plus an extra short scene after you reach one of them. The chat is pretty chaotic, and reminded me of TTRPG campaigns I’ve been in. It had a pretty fun vibe, overall!

I think that’s enough for me for today. I’ll probably play more tomorrow.

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