Tohu wa Bohu

cover (7)

A choice based game implemented in Texture. I have played for a good 2 hours now and still don’t think I have seen all the text this has to offer.

It is a text that attempts to demonstrate to the reader through use of the author’s experiences, and impressionistic surreal text, the significant impact chronic depersonalization disorder has on the lives of its sufferers. It does this through the mechanism of a questionnaire – each question explores a different aspect of the disorder on mind, body, senses, interactions with aspects of the world.

Translated directly, Tohu wa Bohu means without form, or void or unseen, unformed or confused, emptiness, and the text, throughout does a good job of showing why these words are appropriate.

It is difficult to say whether I enjoyed this text or not. On the one hand, a very significant amount of work must have gone into creating this and some of the text is well written and affecting. On the other, the agency is restricted, and the act of continual reveal can get exhausting and feel somewhat…pointless. While mechanics are varied up through some of the questions, the general base mechanic is that I get a long passage of text / a number of options, then I have to reveal each one, one-by-one, before I can progress onto the next page.

It’s too much. One one page for example, I am expected to drag a single choice onto upwards of 20 highlighted words – slowly revealing the paragraph.

I am also expecting some form of conclusion or … diagnosis (?) after each question or at the end, based on my choices. This doesn’t happen. I can’t see that my choices affect anything other than the order the text is presented in.

The author has presented 2 ways of exploring this work ‘take’ and ‘retake’ – progress sequentially through all the questions or dip into a list of the 20 questions. I will say that I very much prefer the retake option – given the exhausting mechanic, having the ability to dip in and out of questions that interested me was much more preferable to slogging thru 20 questions all in one sitting. Each question feels relatively self-contained. It would have been nice (for me) had this been presented as the main mechanic of the work – I can access the questions as I see fit.

The game does not have a save option, but at least ‘retake’ allows you to pick up from where you left off.

I guess I was disappointed somewhat with the games failure to utilize the player’s choices. With the data brought back from the many decisions a player makes thru the course of each question, there ought to be something interesting that the game can do with it. For me, it was a huge miss – I would have been more involved, more willing to put the effort in, more engaged, had I a goal to work towards – a conclusion unique to me.

Having said that, the text is well written, I do feel like I understand and can empathize more about this condition and I really appreciate the effort and ambition that has gone into this game. 6/10

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