They Will Not Return

cover (24)

There is a Ray Bradbury short story called ‘There will Come Soft Rains” which this game, at first, very much reminds me of. It’s early Bradbury, written in 1950 so the prose hasn’t yet become so self-consciously ‘Bradburian’ that it hurts. I’ve always liked it. In this game we play as a house-cleaning robot – over the course of the first part of the game, we are required to clean the house which is slowly disintegrating as time goes by.

I found this part of the game very effective. The prose only presents what is – it doesn’t comment on the changes and is lightly written and tight. It’s left up to the reader to provide the emotional reaction. The first part is small and compact enough that the act of repeatedly exploring and cleaning the house doesn’t get too onerous. In addition, the text changes sufficiently that I am continually engaged. A clever touch is that as the house disintegrates, the game also provides less for me to do – again, this enabled me to maintain interest as I did not need to do all the same things over again.

The following might contain spoilers.

However, later in the game, another robot turns up and, unfortunately, the second part of the game isn’t as effective at holding my interest. Once the characters start commenting on and discussing the action, and provide options for a resolution for the robots, the game devolves into a quest for independence from the Masters. There are many options presented in the text, but ultimately, I found that all my choices led me down a linear path – minor branches took me back to the main plot.

Were this done well, it might be interesting. However, the robots don’t have a particularly interesting voice and alternate solutions are not explored. I would have liked alternates. It would have been interesting to refuse the main path and stay with the house for example. 5/10.




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