IFComp 2012: Fish Bowl

Spoilers follow the break.

So, what we have here is a short and mostly-linear horror work involving unreliable perception and the dissolution of the fantasies that the player character has cocooned himself in to avoid the truth. It’s a bit like Shade, but not as subtle, and with oceans instead of desert. This kind of story is possibly getting to be cliché now, but it gets some points for being clever about how it manages the revelations. It’s perfectly clear that things are massively wrong — even if you can’t pick up on the hints, you get occasional bursts like “CAN YOU don’t I don’t HEAR ME???!!!going down, we’re goingISEEYOUunderneath, circlingunderneathTHEBEASTthebeastcirclingunderneathMURDERER” interrupting the text — but it interposes a third layer between the world of appearances and reality: imagery of mermaids and sea-monsters, and a few creepy bits of text about drowned sailors that keep coming to the player character’s mind. Symbols that go away when the player character fully wakes up.

I think my favorite moment is when you’re burying a dead cat that you find outside your seaside shack, and as you do so, “[y]ou feel exhausted, as though you’ve already been digging all night”. The obvious inference is that you actually have been digging all night, but forgotten about it — burying a body, perhaps. Having seen the ending, I don’t think this is actually the case, but quite a lot has been buried all the same.

Like I said, it’s short and mostly linear, more story than game. It enforces that linearity mainly by refusing to let you leave rooms until you’re performed the actions it wants you to perform. I imagine this would come to feel heavy-handed if it were much longer. As it is, the story ends before that happens, and the required actions are things you’d probably do anyway.

2 Comments so far

  1. Starmaker on 10 Oct 2012

    On a completely unrelated note, I sent a code for Resonance to your email, just to mess with The Oath.

  2. Carl Muckenhoupt on 12 Oct 2012

    I thank you for the gift, but whether I ever start following the Oath again or not is still up in the air.

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