IFComp 2023: A Thing of Wretchedness

Apparently this shares a world with Ascension of Limbs by the same author (who also, I am surprised to discover, wrote Fat Fair), although the connection is only made clear in the ending. It’s much more of a conventional text adventure than Limbs — it’s practically a “My House” game with all the requisite implementation of mundane furnishings. Except for one thing: the entity sharing the house with you.

The interesting thing about this being is how indefinite it is. If you try to examine it, the player character simply refuses, unable to bear looking at it. Everything we know about it comes indirectly: it’s repeatedly described as wretched; it wanders the house as it pleases, but never goes outside; it dirties everything it touches; it eats from a dog food bowl in the kitchen; it’s strong enough to demolish the aforementioned scenery objects when it’s in the right frame of mind; the PC desperately wants to be rid of it, but doesn’t know how to kill it. Everything else is left to the imagination, and there’s a virtue to the vagueness. When I think about the advantages that text has over graphics in games, usually I think of text’s ability to go beyond the visual, to tell us more than pictures can. But it also has the power to tell us less, when that suits the author’s purposes.

The endings, too, leave a lot unsaid and a lot more implied. The creature’s arrival seems to be linked to a cursed artifact locked in the shed, left there by an absent husband who’s mentioned occasionally but never seen. Inevitably, you wonder: Is the wretched creature in fact the husband, transformed? Definite answers are not forthcoming. It would fit thematically with the author’s other works, though. Fat Fair gave us a bestial and dehumanized protagonist. Limbs gave us inhumanity as a goal. Wretchedness doesn’t dehumanize the player character, but presents us with someone else who’s become subhuman and asks us to deal with it somehow.

1 Comment so far

  1. Ross on 21 Nov 2023

    Reminds me a bit of an unofficial SCP I once read. SCP XXXX-b is a perfectly normal rabbit. It is the friend of SCP XXXX-a. You can talk openly about the rabbit. It does not cause traumatic brain injury to think about the rabbit. The rabbit does not eat meat. The rabbit is effectively harmless and does not have a kill-count. An example of the number of people the rabbit has not killed is 17.

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