IFComp 2011: Last Day of Summer

Spoilers follow the break.

In vaguely rustic setting, a boy sets out to town sell an early crop of cranberries, and instead winds up helping the greengrocer he was going to sell them to deal with his grief over the death of the local preacher, apparently a close friend of his.

This is a short piece, with a strange feel. At its core, it’s about emotion, but you can’t talk to anyone. Your interactions with the game are entirely old-fashion adventure-gamery, somewhat crudely implemented, and that clashes a bit with your motivations: you see a bereaved man sitting on a pew in a chapel trying to collect himself, and your reaction is to go examine a sundial for removable pieces and trade your knife for a hat to protect yourself from bird attacks.

I can’t say I think this is deliberate, but that contrast is strangely effective. It suggests that the PC exists on a different emotional plane than the people around him, which is appropriate, given that he’s just a kid. Setting off to market by himself is described in the opening paragraph as a way to prove his readiness for adult responsibilities — “Dad and Mom will be so proud when you return to the hut with a pocket full of money!” — and he stumbles into a larger patch of adulthood than he expected. But he still experiences it, and interacts with it, as a boy playing a game.

1 Comment so far

  1. IFComp Reviews, Part 5 « Saucers of Mud on 13 Nov 2011

    […] Iron. Well-written but not as evocative, and the resolution felt a bit too neat, somehow. I like Carl Muckenhoupt’s take, and am interested to hear more about the Dr. Seuss […]

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