Congratulations to all this year’s authors! I don’t expect to have the time to do justice to all of the games, and will probably lean more towards choice-based as it’s harder to get stumped on them. So where better to begin than …
Insomnia: Twenty-Six Adventures After Dark, by Leon Lin
This is a solid branching-narrative Twine story which begins with trying (and mostly failing) to get to sleep at night. It’s got a kind of immediacy to it, and it’s easy to get hooked into the story. The branching paths do sometimes meet, but mostly it’s a story that leads out into all kinds of different directions - you get caught up in shady dealings at work, or end up in a monastery, for instance - that were unexpected and made it a good, unpredictable read. A good innovation, for a game with “more than 25 endings” is that, when you’ve reached a few endings, it makes it easier to navigate them. For example, the game opens up a list of the endings found so far, and (later on) gives you the option to restart from the last significant branch-point, two design points which should be widely used amongst games of this kind.
I found 19 endings, and thought my browser (set up to reopen old tabs on startup) might have saved my progress, but it didn’t. I may re-read and try to get all the endings on another occasion, because it does stand up to replaying very well.
One thing I did expect was that the various narrative threads would turn out to be dreams, which was not the case, unless that’s something you find out at the end (the “at least 25 endings” for a game called “26 adventures after dark” suggests that there will be a final ending).