I believe this next game–story–wins the prize for the longest title on an IFcomp game, ever. To give it its due: “This is My Memory of First Heartbreak, Which I Can’t Quite Piece Back Together”.
Whew, that is one long title. I think I shall call it “Heartbreak” for short.
Well, “Heartbreak” definitely swings way over to the story side of the story-game spectrum. We experience four little vignettes illustrating episodes from the relationship of Jenny and Sean, ending finally with their breakup. It’s all beautifully presented with silhouette figures and speech bubbles, both animated; each vignette ends with a choice of different key objects–mnemonic devices?–to signal which of the other possible vignettes we’ll go on to from here.
I think this is more of an explore-and-experience piece than an achieve-the-goal piece. There are different ways in which the breakup can end, and I’m not entirely certain that it has anything to do with the vignettes you experience. In the end, it’s really just about seeing all the vignettes to get a full picture of the relationship before reaching the breakup scene … I’d love to be wrong here. I’d love to find out that, in fact, the breakup scene does depend on which vignettes you’ve seen, if only to satisfy the game-loving cockles of my game-loving heart. But, as I said, this is very much more story than it is game.
Lovely as the animation is, one issue I do have is that sometimes the speech bubbles disappear before I’m quite done with them, and other times they stick around for too long. Playspeed is always an issue with playing subtitles, and I think the story might benefit from a “click to continue” mechanic to control the progress of the dialogue. After all, this isn’t a smooth 24fps cartoon animation. I did find the dialogue pretty realistic and believable.
And of course, it’s always nice to be able to skip all the animation one has seen before, like the opening scene of Sean cycling over to Jenny’s house.
The final impression? It’s a sincere little short story about a relationship, its beginning and regrettable end. It doesn’t try to spell everything out for you; rather, it simply shows the key scenes without commentary, and leaves it to you to make what conjectures you want. As a breakfast, it’s something light and bittersweet, meant to be enjoyed at leisure. Croissants and hot chocolate, perhaps, taken al fresco with a helping of strawberries and cream. Simple, but lovingly presented.