Day of the Djinn is a twine-based story that starts strong and gets lost along the way. On the first page, we learn that the protagonist has been cursed — his sister has a set a djinn against him, and he has a day to live. Understandably, the main character begins looking for a way of escaping this fate and mentions that the answer might be in some of his books.
Between that scene and cracking a book open, I spent quite a while wandering around a deeply implemented apartment full of items that really don’t advance the plot. A number of the items do trigger short recollections of the main character’s interaction with his sister, mostly positive memories, but they fail to shed any light on why she wants him dead, which I would consider to be a major plot point.
[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]
While wandering the apartment, I picked up a knife in the kitchen — why? to defend myself from the magical djinn? No, to pry open a picture in my living room. I’d never noticed it before, but it contains a secret hidden message.
Both the frame and a book in my collection reference a fictitious history which involves spice (shades of Dune?), ancient tribes, and the existence of magic and djinns. It’s creative, but not well integrated, except that all clues conveniently point to the park next door as the nexus of all these threads.
As in the apartment, I spent quite a while navigating around the park, taking in the scenery. My looming death, now less than a day away, didn’t seem to bother me much or spur my pace. A fantastical man/deer guards a path, and it’s clear that you need to get past him, and a there’s a witch who you can convince to weave you a bird, but to what end?
I got to a point in my wandering where I just didn’t see where the game was going and tossed in the towel. There just isn’t enough narrative coal to stoke the engines through the Sargasso Sea of hyperlinks.
It could be that part of the game was not accessible to me — I hit the following error at one point (perhaps fixed in later versions, as I was playing from the day-of-release download):
Polish: 7. The text is well-proofed, but the story itself needs a good editor and would have benefitted from more aggressive play testing.
Technical: 6. Links for save, menu, and inventory at bottom of the page would have worked better in a collapsible side panel, but I do appreciate that they were available to the player at all times.
Preliminary Score: 4.8