The Weight of a Soul, by Chin Kee Yong
Back in 2009 I wrote an article in SPAG where hailed Jimmy Maher’s The King of Shreds and Patches as a perfect example of the “second ideal”, which I described as follows:
The second ideal that has emerged in the interactive fiction community is that of the continually engaging, linear or quasi-linear narrative interspersed with well-integrated puzzles. [W]hat is of paramount importance is that the story keeps going, that the flow is not interrupted. Playing interactive fiction is like reading a book, and reading a successful work is like reading a page turner.
Chin Kee Yong’s The Weight of a Soul perfectly fits this tradition. Indeed, with its list of goals, beautiful map, horror elements, and long playtime, it reminded me of The King of Shreds and Patches in more ways than one. (Which is not to say that it is a derivative work: the game’s story and themes are all its own.)
Most importantly, The Weight of a Soul is very very good. It really is a page-turner, gripping us with strong world building, excellent prose, great pacing, and a mystery to reveal. I also loved the fact that a game in which you play a doctor’s assistant makes the Hippocratic Oath the key element of its thematic development.
If there’s a weakness, I would say it is in the character of Justinian, whose evil plan is so insane that I don’t really how it works as an exploration of the Hippocratic theme. The love between him and the protagonist also didn’t feel real to me, even though it is a crucial element of the story.
But this is 5-star experience and no doubt a highlight of 2021 interactive fiction. (It also deserves a more detailed write-up than I can give it here!)