My last review was of a pretty bleak story, i wish you were dead. INK is not the game you want to follow that one with.
You make some choices by dragging a text box over top of a line of text, but the experience isn’t really about exploring where the story can take you. There’s only one way this can go and you know it. It actually reads more like a poem, and incorporates a surrealism that does nothing to soften the torment of losing the one you love. If anything, it ramps up the anxiety of not knowing what to believe. Did I enjoy it? It was not designed to be enjoyed. It was written to grind your will into the scorched, rocky terrain under its boot heel. At the point when I saw a choice to “give in,” I wanted nothing more. Did that bring relief? To quote another harsh piece of writing, if you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.
Two genres that I’ve never really been drawn to are historical fiction and war stories. HOURS involves both. I gave it a try without reading the description, largely because it was listed as “15 minutes or less.” For me, the initial playthrough felt like it was probably upwards of half an hour. There is some interesting world-building going on, but being a shorter game, there isn’t time to do much more than provide a few examples of what makes this setting unique. I was invested in seeing where the story went, but wasn’t able to find a favorable ending. Now, this is probably not a helpful detail to bring up, but I could have sworn that one of the last choices I made had two options. Playing it back, I wanted to try the other route, but now I only see one link available. Is that a real thing that can happen? I would usually assume my cognitive decline is the cause for such an unlikely scenario, but I’m not so sure because without that second branch, you basically seal your fate a long way back in the story. I also think I might have experienced some bugs because several times I found paragraphs which were clearly not endings, but contained no further links. The story really calls out for a lengthy expansion; it didn’t feel like it accomplished what it wanted to in the brief playtime currently available. It feels like there is a lot more to see and do, so let’s hope for a post-comp announcement on the future of the game.
Normally, I would reach out to the author to check on some of these questions, but no contact information is provided.
Here is a very short choice-based entry that has your character finding their way through a forest to a safe haven. There is some world building going on, but one can only fit so much in a 10-15 minute read. There is a stats tracker monitoring your health, but it seems like an odd inclusion, being that your playthrough probably won’t last long enough for the numbers to fluctuate. Also, you can make some extremely poor choices, but even if your life bar gets low, you’ll probably come across some magical healing item of one kind or another. There were some sequences that began to draw me in, but ended without developing the interest further. After going through it several times, I was wishing the game had some sort of hook–some unique element that would help it stand apart from the other entries.
You are read a phone menu and must choose which number to press. Spoiler: it was not written with a hopeful outlook. Rather than seeing a choice that you are eager to explore, you will more likely feel forced to select an option you don’t really want and end up on a dead-end path that quickly terminates without bringing any satisfaction. Could that be a metaphor?
Here is another very short choice-based game that is also a children’s story. It would be a nice introduction to IF for younger players. It feels like you’ll never be able to accomplish the goal of the game, but it turns out to not be so tricky after all. I think I’d like it if we continue to get more entries in this vein for future comps.
I really enjoyed this story. Entries like this are what the IF Comp is all about. As the name implies, there is a mystery to solve, but the real reason to play is for the characters. I enjoyed the world-view of the protagonist(s), and the humor was very much in my vein. My impression is that this could be one of the higher placing games of the comp. Nice work.