IFcomp 2016: Sigil Reader (Field)

Next: “Sigil Reader (Field)”. Hmmm … Kampong Slasher? I’m familiar with the word “Kampong”. Could this be set where I think it is…?

I admit to a certain degree of glee on recognising the cultural milieu in which this story is set. However much I might love my life in Canada, nothing is going to change the fact I grew up in Southeast Asia–Singapore, to be precise. Not even the prospect of waffles drenched in maple syrup. When a character says, “I think I scry for you to see, better than I tell stories, huh?” the grammar makes perfect sense and I know the exact¬†inflections the way I know my toast.

So. The story appears to be that we’re part of a team that deals with supernatural threats. We’ve just woken up in the lobby of our station house; everybody is missing, and it looks like something Very Bad has just happened, only we don’t quite remember. As the story progresses, things appear either in the world or in our possession; there’s a strong suggestion that we’re dead, but the question is how.

It feels like there’s a lot of detail in this setup that’s just a little bit beyond the frame. We’re not really told, for instance, what the functions our colleagues served on the team: we know that we’re the sigil expert, and it’s only mentioned later, in passing, that scrying might be another thing the team handles. At the same time, the touches of personality scattered throughout the station, in addition to the “remember” command”, conjure up broad, sketchy images of these colleagues. Not enough to create a detailed character profile, but hitting just the right notes to make them feel real.

The game is very slight, though. It’s verging on puzzleless: most of the progress is based on increasing a score/stat, and I think the only thing that might be construed as a puzzle might be the problem of getting a flashlight to work, which is almost not a puzzle at all. We end by establishing contact with one of our colleagues, and we can either see how it all happened, or where we go from here. It’s not so much about achieving an ideal ending as it is about living through a story.

For breakfast, I’m thinking chwee kueh: ghostly white, topped with chai po–I like to push all the chai po to the middle, build it into a little pile so my final mouthful is like 90% chai po–and the morning tea I remember being splashed into my mug back in my NS days. It’s all about the build-up, and however simple it looks, there’s a lot more stuff going on in the kitchen than you think.

Uh. I mean, for breakfast, I’m thinking of a steamed rice flour cake topped with preserved radish–a melange of bland and salt, soft and crunch–followed by military-grade tea. Yeah. That’s it.

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