Review – Unit 322 (Disambiguation)

This review does not contain subliminal messages, nor does the game.

This twine story starts from a wikipedia style disambiguation page, which collects items related to the term “322”, and the game consists simply of clicking around these links at leisure, exploring these unrelated topics.

That’s what they would like you think.

Or is that what’s going on?

Nothing. Please go about your business.

It’s time to try on the aluminium foil hats and get out the red string and white boards. Something damn clever is going on here.

[Some spoilers follow beyond this point]

As in most of my reviews, I won’t focus on the story itself. I assume that people have already played the game. These reviews are intended more as analysis than to sell people on playing the game.

If you haven’t played this one, please do, and come back if you’d like. I don’t want to give this one away even below the spoiler warning, because discussing the nature of the reveal could undermine the impact of the story.

You have been warned, citizen.

So, let me start with some structural comments. First, testers are credited on the title page — a great sign. Some spelling errors still creep into the text, but not too many. Second, a help link on the title page tells you what you are expected to do. Some people will click this before seeing the story, and that’s fine; others may come to it after exploring a bit, and that’s also fine. Knowing the goal does not undermine the story, but may reassure readers that there is something going on below the surface of this story.

And yet, many do not turn away in time to avoid calamity.

The conceit of constructing a game as a series of wikipedia pages is ideally suited to twine as a medium. Twine and wikipedia are at heart HTML code, with hyperlinks, back buttons, text, and references.

And what better medium to reach the modern masses?

Recreating a believable slice of wikipedia in twine is a potentially bottomless project — the links outward would go on forever, if not trimmed to a reasonable volume. The author of this piece does a nice job of building the links out to a reasonable depth including some pages that are there for flavor. The Psychodelic Music page is, for example, paraphrased from the real, but much longer wikipedia page.

The wikipedia pages as rendered in this project are simplified compared to the real thing: shorter articles, fewer references, and no external links. I would have been amused to find a fake IMDb pages linked to the TV show and actors, for example, but perhaps that would create a less focused story.

I could imagine that some of the wikipedia features would also be interesting to see implemented: the edit history of these pages and the discussion pages, which I assume would be riddled with conspiracy theory. Again, these flourishes aren’t necessary, and I think the author made a good decision in not going overboard on features.

I won’t say anything more regarding the story itself. Some readers might anticipate the ending, but I still thought the payoff was solidly done and worth the ride.

I am looking forward to this story being linked into IFwiki.

Evaluation:

Story: 10. The best parts of the story may be those that aren’t told.

Voice: 9. It has that wikipedia tone to it; the original source material sounded similarly authentic.

Play: 9. No problems playing, it all worked for me.

Polish: 8. Infrequent errors, but they could have been picked on with spellcheck.

Technical: 7. Fairly stock twine; some use of different font; use of conditional based on event history.

JNSQ: 1. This is up there for best use of medium in terms of the Twine platform.

Preliminary Score: 9.6

Fnord.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *