IFComp 2014: Venus Meets Venus   3 comments

could you break your hand on your bathroom wall
macy broke hers
you could do it too
one hard smash is all it would take

I find dividing interactive fiction into “choice-based” and “parser-based” a little troublesome, in part because there are other options for an interface (like Ice-Bound or 18 Cadence) but also because point and click games can reflect different gameplay styles: the inventory-and-puzzles of The Contortionist inhabit a different universe than the strategy choices of Begscape. Half-Life 2 and Portal are considered to be in entirely different genres even if they are both first person using the same engine.

Of yet another genre are some visual novels with no choices at all (including “kinetic novels” and “motion comics“). They usually have some sort of multimedia (otherwise they would be almost completely indistinguishable from reading an ebook) although there have been exceptions in Twine.

Venus Meets Venus is of related style, with a linear story where the only “interaction” is the option to view side scenes. It’s a little like reading a book with footnotes. (While we’re categorizing, I’d say The 39 Steps more or less falls into the same category.)

The plot is pretty intense and personal and difficult to talk about without spoilers. It is simple, elemental: someone named Lynn meets someone named Macy. It gets intensely into Lynn’s head. I had to take regular breaks.

“don’t worry about it. it’s an emotional time for you.” you repeat a line you read somewhere. you’re an awful person.

Here’s what will be an issue for some: it doesn’t present Lynn as likable. Lynn is trying, hard, to be a better person, and maybe by the end of the story she is, but the part that you get to see, the part that the story is about, she isn’t there yet.

It’s worth the ride for the prose, which is very solid and even manages to keep it together when slipping into poetry-form. Just remember to breathe.


Posted October 10, 2014 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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