There are maybe spoilers in this review. I would recommend you play the game before reading.
I am genuinely almost too afraid to click on the link. I have reached a point of choice in this amazing story where I need to make a decision. And I don’t want to. Either way will lead to horror and despair – whether my own or someone else’s. This is no fairy tale.
I wrote in an earlier review about Alias ‘The Magpie’ that the text sparkles. In it’s own way, this prose is just as good. But it doesn’t sparkle. No. It….shines balefully. Despite being pared down, each phrase, each section is beautifully wrought – as much as it needs to be and no more.
And the horror mounts. What begins as a fairly unsettling depiction of this child’s imprisonment by the bogeyman, turns into something darker. And then darker again. It builds slowly, this horror. It pulls no punches – all your worst imaginings of what might happen to children who can’t learn to be good are here. All moving towards an inevitable, uncompromising conclusion.
Under the surface is almost a dysfunctional family dynamic. The ending, in particular, plays out in some ways like a scene we might see in the family home, witnessed by a child. And the cruel father – does he, ultimately, understand that what he’s doing is wrong? Ungrateful, entitled, he scolds when the child rebels – seemingly genuinely surprised. And, as a father, maybe this is the most unsettling thing of all. We all want to teach our children to be good.
I have played through twice now, and there are some variations to be found that result directly from choices by the player. The narrative, however, is on rails – if I had a criticism of this game, it would be that I would have liked to have had more in the way of a result of some of my choices – there are many times when I can make a decision to be, for example, nice or nasty to the other children – it would have been nice to have had those choices gradually reflected throughout the game.
This is my favorite choice game of the competition so far. 9/10