IFComp 2016: This is My Memory of First Heartbreak, Which I Can’t Quite Piece Back Together

Spoilers follow the break.

I’ll say this for it: it’s artful. Unlike most Comp entries, it’s primarily graphical instead of textual, and the graphics are clean and spare-looking, with the human figures as white silhouettes that fade between poses in a kind of minimalist shadow play. We get a series of brief vignettes about a young couple, each ending by labeling some random background elements as clickable: a song we shared, the color red, ants. This leads to another scene tangentially connected to your choice. After just four such scenes, you get to the breakup. The details of the breakup apparently depend on your path through the scenes, but there’s always a breakup, no matter what you choose.

It’s nice-looking, but feels insubstantial to me, partly because it’s short, partly because there’s no real choice in the choices. Lack of agency may be the point, mind. But I feel like there’s some failure of intent here, that the author is asking us to pick between things that have strong emotional resonance for her personally and forgetting that, due to the structure of the piece, we’re being asked to choose between them when we haven’t yet seen the things that would make the choice meaningful.

Also, I have some concerns about this as a Comp entry. The whole thing is hosted online, partly on the author’s website and partly on Youtube, and the “Download” link at the Comp website just gives you an HTML page with a link to where the game really is. Not only does this mean it can’t be played locally without an internet connection, it bodes ill for preservation. I’ve complained about this problem in web-based Comp entries before, and, while the popularity of Twine has greatly eased such worries, I will probably complain about it again.

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