Review – Salt

This was an experimental piece written in Twine and notable for the requirement that the player continually hit the spacebar. In the story, this represents swimming, and failure to hit the spacebar returns the player to the surface. If the review seems short, it is at least in part because it is exceedingly difficult to hit the space bar, pay attention to text output, occasionally follow instructions to hit the up or down key, and also take notes on one computer.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

At the start, the pace is leisurely. The prompt for swimming in a horizontal bar that contracts; on each stroke, it expands to its full width. There is a steady, regular rhythm and relatively sparse descriptive text is displayed slowly. If the player misses a beat, the screen brightens, music changes, and there is a sudden emergence from the water, which feels disruptive.

Eventually, the game kicks into overdrive increasing the required frequency of keystrokes to keep swimming. The game seemed to go quickly from relaxing to frantic. I found myself playing the first few measures of Billy Joel’s Angry Young Man on my spacebar.

I wasn’t able to really pay attention to any verbiage scrolling by at that point. I thought that earlier in the game the mechanic was helpful for both setting pace and requiring a commitment of attention and constant but mindless interactivity. Picking up the pace was also effective, but I don’t think this medium works well for twitch-gaming.

Evaluation

Story: 4. Some of the early text was moody, but I have to admit that I was 90% paying attention to hitting the keyboard. I guess I’m not an IF multi-tasker.

Voice: 6

Play: 5

Polish: 9

Technical: 8

JNSQ: 0

Preliminary Score: 6.4

 

 

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