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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Review: Sam and Leo go to the Bodega

Clearly this story is going to be about Leonardo Dicaprio and Sam Rockwell going to a small Spanish grocery store. I think we can all agree on that. (by the way, wouldn't that be amazing if that turned out to be true?) I think I can imagine the conversation going like this:

Leo - Sam, you know I have to say, as great as you were in Moon, I sincerely enjoyed your work in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind most of all.

Sam - Leo, fuck you. Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck you.

Leo - That seems to be what most people say to me...

Aww... poor Leo. Let's see if the actual game equals the hype. Find out after the jump!

Quick Take Review: Another well written but short slice-of-life CYOA. I'm sensing a pattern...

I'm not sure what to say. Once more we have a competently written short story that has slices of memories and vignettes in which you get to choose which memories you access and in which order you access them.

The premise is that you're a pair of stoned friends figuring out what to get at the local Kwiki-Mart style store. You are going to get some kind of drink, some kind of cookie, some kind of frozen item, and some kind of snack. Each of those four options has four options of their own each one complete with their own bit of multi-colored (the text changes colors) memory.

As you complete your shopping expedition, your back story (Gina and the progressive whoring out of your apartment, etc.) is told. It's pretty simple, though again, competently told. It was short enough that I went back and played every single option available to me. After playing the game now four times, I can't say that I feel particularly elucidated. Each scrap of memory only served as that: a scrap. And I was never given a reason to care about these characters (particularly since as you're ringing the items up you suddenly become the put-upon shop keeper who refers to both characters as the "fat one" and the "ugly one", neither characterization made me inclined to care much about them).

Once more, I'm put into a quandary as I'm not sure how to evaluate this piece. As a general mood evoking piece it did a good enough job, and I enjoyed the writing enough to play though it four times. But then if the story wasn't so short I probably wouldn't have, and in the end having heard all of the memories I was still left with a feeling of "meh" towards both the story and the characters. Part of that may have been that the choices I chose first and foremost were, generally speaking, the most salacious, and so subsequent revelations felt tame by comparison.

And of course at the same time I'm reminded by the comparison of labor. As well written as these hypertext pieces, I know that they are not as difficult to compose as those that require actual coding. Part of me retains a strong bias toward pieces that were written with traditional text/parser pieces. At the same time, I'm coming to terms with explosion of pieces submitted under this format (I don't want to call it "new" because actually it's pretty primordial as far as Interactive Fiction is concerned). It would be easy to dismiss pieces like this if they weren't written so well, and frankly you can't say that about a lot of Interactive Fiction that's been written. Of course, one of the things that makes traditional IF so difficult to do properly is that you give the reader much more agency than these choose your own adventures ever will...

Of course now I'm reminding myself of the snarling old grandpa. But again, I feel like it's not exactly fair to compare pieces like this to the works that are much much much more difficult to fabricate. We shall see with time.

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