Tuesday, October 6, 2015

IFCOMP'15: The Friend Zone, Brendan Vance

A mightily bizarre Twine piece, and not in a good way, though often unintentionally hilarious.

So, having read the blurb critiques of Sam Cabo Ashwell, I was, naturally, geared up for what he predicted: " an awful-dude one-trick pony, or a hiiilarious-satire-of-awful-dudes one-trick pony". Oh wow. Wasn't that a curveball?

The story's concept straddles the fence between Terry Gilliam brilliance and Zardoz awfulness, then for the most part keels over into the latter with a wet, meaty thump. The eponymous Friend Zone, it turns out, is a Purgatory-like nightmare fueled by your (and it turns out many others') sick obsession with the object of your unrequited love. Humongous body parts, presumably hers, stick out all over the place, a trip across here intestinal tract included, complete with the rectum, from which you emerge by clicking on the "Come out into the light" option. As I said, unintentional hilarity abounds.

The Friend Zone is almost completely uninteractive, progressing through simple link-clicks, occasionally hilariously named. The writing is... stylistically problematic, shall we put it.

You hold 0 Questions within your lungs
An old traveller sits cross-legged by the campfire, grinning at you with eyes made entirely of green light. You didn't notice them as you walked up, though their thick bundle of blankets suggests they've been there for hours
The old traveller's grin breaks into a wide smile 
When they choose to approach it anyway the largest member shoves them headfirst into the edge of a nearby table, causing fits of raucous laughter around the bar. 
It looks like it has a thousand eyes, each reflecting your panicked face. One of these reflections flashes teeth, tearing a hole in the back of your neck. You shut your eyes tight again.

And on, and on. The text insists on using "they" as the personal pronoun of choice, and sometimes plays out entire prolonged scenes where you simply observe a number of "they"-s doing this and that, clicking away on links amounting to "Continue", finally so confused that reflections flashing teeth and tearing holes in the back of your neck is a reasonable description of your state of mind.

I gave it my best three times, but I simply lost any desire to find out how to collect questions "within my lungs", which were apparently the only way to progress from one point onward.

There is a sort of twisted brilliance to some of the thing, like a bar in whose floor a monstrous eye scrutinizes the patrons, calling them out with stuff like this:
Number 46. Step forward and squander your affection
But as I said, much of the rest falls squarely in the "Scary guy raving in the street" category for me. Sorry.

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