Monday, October 04, 2010

[IF Comp] Sons of the Cherry

Sons of the Cherry is a multiple-choice game. (Let's all agree that that is a better name than "Choose Your Own Adventure", shall we? It's more descriptive, and less tied to a specific series of game books from already half-forgotten history.) It is set during the U.S. war of independence, and casts the player as a young occultist who quickly gets into trouble with the Christian authorities for being a witch. Perhaps I am mistaken, but this seems to me to conflate two parts of history that are separated by almost a century: the witch hunts in the second half of the seventeenth century, and the war of independence in the second half of the eighteenth century.

Whatever the historical accuracy of the narrative, Alex Livingston quickly moves us forward from scene to scene, with every few paragraphs being followed by a multiple-choice question that allows you to choose what you want to do next. Points for good narrative flow.

Unfortunately, this interactivity is a fa├žade almost all of the time: one's choices have almost no bearing on how the narrative progresses. If you can choose to help someone or not help someone, choosing the second will still having you helping the person in question. If you decide to run away before you are discovered, rather than wait for whoever is coming, you will be discovered nonetheless, without the writer even going through the trouble of writing an escape scene. If you decide to fight rather than run, the guy who's with you will grab you and force you to run anyway. And so on.

There does seem to be one choice in the game which affects the further narrative, to the point that an entire sequence gets cut out and the game ends rather differently if you make the "wrong" choice. Whether this is enough to justify choosing the medium of interactive fiction is of course debatable.

Anyway, back to the story. I was sort of enjoying myself, slowly getting into the story, and then we seemed to have finished the introduction and to have come to the point where stuff was going to happen. Great, I thought to myself, I get to kill George Washington! Let chaos ensue and let history be rewritten! We will scorch the arcane symbols of paganism into the very earth of this land, kick out the English with an army of naiads and dryads, and forever close our shores to monotheism! This is a story. I put on some Inkubus Sukkubus to get into the right mood, and clicked the violent option.

And then... Washington lived? I went my own way? The game ended? But -- surely that was only an introduction? Where is the rest of my story?

Ultimately, then, a rather unsatisfying game.

3 comments:

  1. What was it about the game that allowed you to gradually get into it, Victor?

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  2. What I mean with "getting into the story" is that I was beginning to understand who the main characters were, what their relations to each other were, and what the basic theme of the game was going to be. It was like the end of the introduction; we now had enough context to get on with the really important events.

    Of course, that's where it stopped.

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  3. Ahh, I understand. Thanks..

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