Review: Off The Rails

With a name like Off The Rails, I was prepared for a screwball comedy, but that’s not what is in store for this relatively short Twine work. That’s not to say the author doesn’t have a sense of humor or at least irony: the story begins on a train, and if you don’t get off the train, the story is entirely linear, i.e., the player is railroaded to a quick but not all that enlightening end.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

Staying on the train is the easy thing to do, makes sense in terms of what we know of the character’s goals, and is what almost anyone would do in normal circumstances. Only a strong altruistic streak would propel the main character to break with the momentum of everyday life and chase down a stranger to return a dropped magazine.

As the story progresses, we learn that the magazine owner and many others from all walks of life are converging on a gathering of the meek to make the world a better place. In this story, meek is less a synonym for milquetoast, and more a label from someone who you would say does not behave like an jerk: the civilized, the altruistic, the fraction of Earth’s population who aren’t assholes.

By getting off the train and making the effort to track down the magazine reader, as well as by her actions later in the story, the protagonist declares herself in column A, throwing her lot in with the meek.

The story does a good job conveying the power and danger of a charismatic leader and mob mentality, and the game diverges in a few directions based on how the main character behaves at the rally.

Evaluation:

Story: 7

Voice: 8

Play: 7

Polish: 9

Technical: 6

JNSQ: 0

Preliminary Score: 7.4

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