Review: Deshaun Steven’s Ship Log

In this short Twine game, Deshaun works tech for shows on the intergalactic equivalent of the Love Boat. As the story begins, he has a few not very ambitious aspirations to improve his station in life: things like do more exercise, work out his relationship with his ex-girlfriend (or maybe find a new one), and perhaps get a better job.

The story is told through his personal log entries, which serve as a diary. The informal language, abbreviations, and content make it clear that he expects that he is the only one who would read this log, so he is honest in what he records in it. As you would expect, the reader follows the log entries in chronological order, learning Deshaun’s story as he sets down his thoughts and impressions of the day. Occasionally, there must be nothing to write about, and the date skips forward.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

Earlier entries reflect the daily drudgery of his work life, petty run-ins with other crew members, and the daily in and outs of being a worker on a cruise ship. In this phase of the game, we learn more about Deshaun, a bit about his past, and what motivates him. Reader choice influences the gradual progress he makes on his various resolutions: will he work out today or loaf, will he try to patch things up with his ex, will he weather some abuse from his boss or cook up a plan to get the boss in trouble?

However, life becomes more interesting when aliens make first contact with the ship, and Deshaun has a chance to shine. He’s not stupid — his job at techie is way beneath his abilities, and thrust into this new situation, he can choose to make something or himself. Or not. At the end of the story, Deshaun’s quest for self-fulfillment is recapped, measuring his progress against his initial goals.

The game’s length and structure encourage replay to see how different choices lead to divergent outcomes. I appreciated the author’s streamlining of replay to skip some introductory material.

In addition to clicking forward through the story, the player encounters a few puzzles, which take advantage of various HTML elements such as drop down boxes to provide a slightly more interactive experience.

Evaluation:

Story: 6. There is an overarching plot in two phases, before and after the alien encounter with minor side branching within each phase.

Voice: 8. The writing is crisp, consistent, and entertaining. The diary entries give us full access to what is going on in Deshaun’s head.

Play: 6. Play was smooth and intuitive; replay was rewarding.

Polish: 7. Very minor spelling and formatting issues; the work is generally well-proofed.

Technical: 7. This is not just out of the box twine. A number of states are being tracked and the puzzles were a nice touch.

JNSQ: 0

Preliminary Score: 6.8

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