The Broken Bottle

cover (19)

As a nicely presented and illustrated novel, this works quite well. I liked the page turn animation for the first few pages. Then it gets irritating. I want this sort of thing to succeed, I really do, but 7 or so binary choices through a 100++  page novel that don’t really alter the text just isn’t going to cut it in the interactive narrative space.

According to the blurb on the website, the Affinity Forge team , a collection of “incredible creative individuals”, are trying to “Bring story driven games back.”

Unfortunately, from their first release it appears like they haven’t played many story driven games and have no idea how far the medium has come over the last few years. Just look at this competition. Examples like Urs, Lux, Erstwhile, Bogeyman, Cannery Vale (and certainly a bunch more I haven’t played yet) – all of them showing just how exceptionally diverse and interactive choice based narrative games can be. All of them imbuing the medium with creative and innovative ways of driving a narrative while retaining player agency and ownership of it. And that’s just in this competition.

I’m frustrated. You can probably tell. I honestly want collectives like this to succeed in the narrative game space.

On the face of it, this novel is quite nicely written – the prose is a bit basic and awkward, but serviceable in a pulp fantasy sort of way. The illustrations are a nice touch, but need just that little bit of extra oomph. I mean, look at Urs.

But I am 15 pages of dense text in before I hit my first point of choice. I choose ‘Buy Supplies’. But then I’m curious. What impact would a different choice have made? So I go back and start again and this time I choose ‘Buy Food.’ – one slightly different paragraph then I’m back into 35 (!!!!) pages of text before the next choice. Oh, come on.

It claims there are 30 different endings. However, given the interactivity to text-mass ratio, I have no inclination to replay just so I can change a binary decision.

I hope the Affinity Forge initiative succeeds, I really do. I think it might find an audience, but in the lens of this competition : 3/10




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