IFcomp 2016: Letters

Next: “Letters”, in which we explore letters and memories to form stories about a friendship between a pair of teenaged girls.

“Letters” starts off with a letter from one teenaged girl to another, with hyperlinks in the text. Click a link, get more story, and then we reach the end. By “the end”, I mean that we’ve reached a point where our only option seems to be to restart. It seems to be a branching thing, but there’s a central story to it all, and I get the sense that no one single playthrough can encompass the whole of the story. I’m not even sure if a single playthrough can qualify as a story–it feels too much like a vignette. It takes multiple playthroughs to know what’s happening and to grasp the events that make up the story.

The story seems to be about the friendship between Cadence, the writer of the letter–independent, snarky, terminally ill–and the protagonist. At this point, Cadence has died; the protagonist is going through the letters and notes Cadence has left for her over the years, and occasionally recounting memories in response to trigger words in the text. This is what constitutes the gameplay.

It’s really a LOT like “This is My Memory of First Heartbreak…” in this same comp, but without the animated illustrations. It’s an explore-and-experience piece. I suppose each playthrough should be sufficient as a single short story, but, given the weight of the backstory, it feels comparatively less adequate. Kind of like how buttered toast is perfectly adequate until you discover the existence of a breakfast buffet.

I don’t know that I was deeply affected by the story, but I guess I was affected to a certain extent. In many ways, this is a character study or a portrait of Cadence, some of it in her own words, some of it demonstrated by the protagonist’s memories. It’s pretty sweet. Some of the poetry felt–like teenage angst poetry–a bit unnecessary. I’m not sure what to do with it. After a while, it actually felt a bit intrusive to want to poke around any more, which I guess is kind of a point in the story’s favour.

A croissant with strawberry jam for breakfast, I think? Light and sweet, but there’s plenty more where that came from, if you’re still hungry. Dark cocoa, a bit of bitterness to cut the sweetness from the jam.

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