Ok, this has got to be the worst timing ever - review an IntroComp game ten years after it’s been released in the middle of IFComp? Wha?
I’m hoping this might serve as an example to some authors that people DO play your games and stand up and take notice. This community grinds extremely slow, but extremely fine as well. The game you created has made a difference, and it doesn’t need the splash of, say, IFComp to make someone really, really sad you never got to finish your entry.
There, that’s my justification.
“Southern Gothic” is all about theatre. The PC is meant to play the leading role on a play she wrote. As the game starts, there is some confusion about what’s going on - the writing is deliberately unclear on whether you are in a play during a show, on a stage before the show, or actually living the part. This captivated me at once.
Implementation is quite solid. I was pleased to find that most everything that I tried gave me good, non-standard replies, and most of them established character for the game or the PC without needing purple prose. Kudos for that!
The full game would apparently be divided into three acts, and I daresay this IntroComp entry is complete enough to serve as the first act. There is enough depth, enough story, enough player involvement to start the game, deliver the background story, introduce the characters and the conflict - the sort of conflict that is almost stereotypically associated with theatre, so it’s nothing new, but the writing manages to make it interesting enough to keep playing - and end on the sort of cliffhanger that you really hate because you really wanted to see more. What better praise can there be for an IntroComp game?
It’s also big on foreshadowing. It starts with Tchekov’s quote about the gun; appropriately, a gun is shortly found. There are elements which seem like they’re going to be very significant later - but only later.
I don’t want this review to run as long as some of my others, since the game was so good at not overstaying its welcome and avoiding the purple prose I myself am so prone to. I did want to bring game this up to modern attention, point it out. It’s worth a look, it won’t take a lot of your time, and if there’s something wrong about it is that it never got picked up and made into a complete game. Like “Fine-Tuned”, these games exist only to give us heartache, but at least they do exist.