Saturday, January 4, 2014

Review of "Redundant," by Alessandro Voila

Whoops! Forgot to put this up yesterday >.<  Scheduling them in advance might not be a bad idea.

This will be the first of my reviews of the 2013 Windhammer entries. I wasn't able to get to it right away, but hopefully they're not too late to be useful. I'll be going through the stories in alphabetical order, by the author's first name, so we'll be starting with Redundant, by Alessandro Voila. You can reference the rubric I'm using here, if you're so inclined.

"Redundant" is a decent gamebook, but not exceptional. It's got some neat ideas, and I find the satire of the work-a-day office to be amusing (especially in the context of having had my own share of unpleasant jobs). It's a fairly typical dystopia, but that "Office Space" type of irony that comes across in the strict schedule of meetings and the portrayal of the management has a unique flair to it. It gives an eerily familiar portrayal of how it feels to be a peon in a large organization, entirely at the mercy of Those On High. Right down to the day they sack your sorry ass.

Of course, in this world, "sack" takes on a whole new meaning...

I wonder if the author of "Redundant" might not be a native English speaker, because the language struggles from time to time. It's not often overtly wrong, it just seems a little awkward in places, which could simply be a lack of familiarity

Opening: 3
Opening with the memory of a happy childhood on the beach is a nice touch, but it's a little clumsy in execution. I wasn't really sure what was going on, or why I should care, until far too late into the opening section. That said, once I did figure it out, I realized it's not a bad opening, it just needs to be reworked a bit. I think if the nuts and bolts were more clear, it would tighten the emotional punch of the scene.

Flow: 4
I like the game aspect of this story. The use of Rage and Frustration is innovative and evocative. I also like the time mechanic and what it makes you do and think about, as the player. It makes the world feel alive, that things are happening at certain times, and if you go to a room at the wrong time, it may just be empty. A lot of games, even big studio titles, don't bring that level of verisimilitude to their worlds.

Writing: 2
The writing is in some ways the weakest link in this story. It is fluent, and there are many points where it almost even verges on poetic, but... and maybe this is just me, but it just doesn't speak to me. Too often, the writer gets lost in convoluted sentences, or just expresses ideas in something of an odd way.

Story: 4
The story is a distopia, and though that's hardly a unique vision, he does bring a unique take to it. Unfortunately, with several attempts, I was never able to survive and make it to the end, so I'm not sure how it would end, but it's a neat vision nonetheless.

Secret Sauce: 3
I'm going to bring this in right in the middle of the road here. I think the story has a lot going for it, but it's also got some weaknesses, and at the end of the day it balances out. Not the best, but also not the worst.

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