Zest (IFComp 2014)

Zest isn’t the first Twine game I’ve played, but it is the first one that felt like more than just a conversation menu. Perhaps that says more about how unfamiliar I am with the medium than about this game, but I was pleased that there was strategy to be employed and state to be affected, and that the presentation was closer to a Flash game than a CYOA book.

I managed to get all of the achievements within the judging period, but I was still confused about how some of the systems worked (does exercising have any gameplay consequences? prayer?), and by the end, the apparent randomization and questionable agency had gotten pretty frustrating (how much of what I experience on each run is really caused by my choices? does it matter what I do with the flyer?).

As a narrative, it reminded me of Photopia meets Aisle. It’s a slice of life that you see from a slightly different angle each time, one that you can have a dramatic impact on (and be rewarded with a wall of text) by making the right choice at critical moments, but most of the pauses for interaction only serve to pace your motion through the story.

It opened my eyes to the potential of HTML+CSS+JS as a medium for interactive text. I should pay more attention to what’s going on with Vorple; I’d like to see more parser-based IF using dynamic text effects like these.

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