IFcomp 2016: To The Wolves

Next on the IFcomp playlist, we’re left “To The Wolves”….

“To The Wolves” is a hypertext story in which we’re a girl who’s been sacrificed to the forest–which seems to entail being chased away and left to die. Almost immediately, we find an abandoned hut, and proceed to eke out an existence with only the local wolves for company.

We are not, of course, the first villager to be sacrificed to the forest in this manner, and it appears that there are a few different supernatural forces at work in the background. These entities, predecessors and spirits alike, hint at some intriguing backstory surrounding the current situation in the forest and in the village. It’s not entirely explicit, though: I feel that we’re still left with a few unanswered questions by the end of the story.

There’s quite a bit of stat-tracking involved, but, unless you’ve read the “how to play” section, it’s seldom clear what these stats might be, or what each choice might mean for the stats. This can be both good and bad: the good part is that the resulting experience is so seamless that one might be forgiven for thinking there’s only one route through the story and only one outcome, though there isn’t; the bad part is that, on replaying the story in an effort to see alternate storylines, it’s not so easy to see where an alternate choice might or might not make a difference. The general path of the story, from start to victory, is pretty easy to follow; but there are hidden corners which require a bit more effort to find.

I think I’d have liked to know more about our predecessors: Charlie in particular seems like an afterthought. But that is a small thing. Ultimately, there’s little to fault. The story is compact, with intricately, tightly woven threads. The ending feels a little more open-ended than one would expect, but it serves its purpose. For breakfast, I’m thinking of a meat pie with a hard-boiled egg in its centre. Tasty and self-contained, with a clear central focus; though maybe we’re not entirely sure what sort of meat it is. And then, some sort of malt extract drink like Horlicks or Ovaltine to finish the meal.

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