Review: Attack of the Clockwork Army

Posted by Cha

For the unfamiliar, Choice of Games is a platform for multiple-choice text-based games. Something like classic Choose Your Own Adventure books with added character stats. As someone coming to choice-based interactive fiction via Twine or visual novels, Choice of Games' no-frills text presentation can feel a bit stark, but there are positive sides to such a pure focus on story. Everything here rests on the writing quality and choice structure.

Felicity Banks' newly released Attack of the Clockwork Army, hosted on Choice of Games, is set in a steampunk version of colonial Australia. Which sounds pulpier than my usual tastes but I couldn't help but be curious what that would look like. I decided to go into this with my fun goggles on.



Posted by Cha

I'm a little bit in awe of Nina Freeman. She makes me feel justified in my appreciation of people just telling their own stories, whatever those are. Coming to game design via poetry, she makes vivid vignettes with a heavy amount of autobiographical content. Her games end up making me feel voyeuristic, and I often squirm at moments that are both deeply vulnerable and relatable.

Cibele continues the trend, though in a more polished and fleshed-out form than previous games like "how do you Do It?", "Freshman Year" or "Ladylike". Cibele would be described as short, but it's an order of magnitude longer than those previous examples. But the extra length doesn't dilute the experience; if anything it feels even more intimate.


The Beginner's Guide

Posted by Cha

I've seen a lot of sentiment around that discussing The Beginners Guide too much diminishes it. This is probably true, but I'm going to do so anyway.

Through the earlier sections of the game my response was:

(1) This is way more like the Stanley Parable than I had been led to believe.
(2) I laughed a lot despite feeling like the butt of the joke.

The part of me that's a hobbyist game critic, that is. And that's hard because the thing I'm most uncertain about here is how much of a dig this is meant to be at those of us who like to pull apart a game developer's work and find meaning there. Did the design document include terms like "navel gazing", I wonder?

I mean, I go by "Shallow Depths". My online presence (such as it is) is pretty well tied up in people's perceptions of game criticism and a tug of war between insight and fluff. Which I consider a false dichotomy and that's basically why I'm here.


Tearing Strips off Akiba's Trip

Posted by Cha

Misleading title, probably. I enjoyed the hell out of Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed. As easy as it would be to trash it I'm not particularly interested in doing so. It's a strange thing to pull apart though.

There's a weirdly self-conscious trend in games of using sexuality as a marketing strategy, but never being willing to openly explore or acknowledge that. Even some pornographic games shy away from turning anyone on; burying erotic content among distracting or time-consuming game conventions. It's not so difficult to understand how this happens, given how society can simultaneously encourage desire and shame us for it.


Day and Night

Posted by Cha

Culture is full of binary concepts. Good and evil. Male and female. Mind and body (or was that body and soul?). These binaries condense the world so far they erase people and their messy realities. I have angry gut reactions against the ubiquity of trying to split things in half. Tale of Tales' Sunset, then, is a small miracle. My evidence that stories formed around the number two don't have to be cheap.

Duality is at the heart of everything.