Departure: A Surrealist Horror Tale of Tragic Romance (WIP)( COMPLETE) (Looking for Beta Testers)

Howdy! My name is Slim Pickens and I’m back with another surrealist horror adventure for you! The title is Departure. This is a very personal tale for me, for reasons that shall likely become apparent as you play. However, I believe the themes of low self esteem , the presiding feeling that all the people that love you might be lying to you, and the feeling that you are burden on others might be understood by some members of this community. If it isn’t entirely universal.

Official Description:

Take a harrowing and surrealist journey down a lonesome road. Drive through the night to make it to your family. Try not to fall victim to hallucinations or exhaustion. Or that oddly shaped shadow that keeps appearing in your rear view mirror. Or those pale white eyes peering out from between the trees. Or the figure in the back seat.

The story is playable from beginning to end, but I might add a few more chapters. We’ll see how things go.

CONTENT WARNING: GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, THEMES OF SELF HARM, AND DRUG ABUSE

Link: https://dashingdon.com/go/6755

I know it opens with a text wall, but you’ll understand why in the next few pages. That being said, let me know if it is too much.

Please leave feedback, good or bad. Anything you want to say.

PAQ(Potentially Asked Questions)

This is the worst thing I have ever read! Can you send me a link to your other work so I know what I need to avoid?
Sure! I currently have a WIP that can be found here
Northern Elysium Hotel(WIP)
And another complete story that can be found here

And All Things Will End - Info / Statistics - Infinite Story

If you have feedback on these, send me a DM!
Where did you get the idea for this?
Long car ride. Self hatred.
Why ‘Slim Pickens’?
Because he does the right thing and rides the bomb to hell. Also, because it sound like “slim pickings”.
I don’t understand (specific detail of the plot)!
There is a certain degree of ambiguity pervading throughout the story that is inherent to the genre, but I don’t want any confusion as to the broad strokes or abstract theme. At the same time, I would encourage you to come up with your own interpretation. If you have any questions, simply ask them. Ideally, with spoiler tags.

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So far it sounds pretty good. I’ll read through and see if there’s any feedback I can give you. If you don’t mind me asking is there specific feedback your looking for? Grammar, continuity, spelling, general, etcetera.

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I got the “you got the good ending” then I get the same one I got the first time? Not sure if it’s a big or if the good ending is ending up being tormented.

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Not particularly. I suppose just general feedback. Thoughts on plot structure, writing style, what worked and didn’t work, weirdly written sentences, etc.
EDIT: Oh, and thoughts on the ending.
@HeliosTheAll-Seeing
Yep! That’s the good ending, depending on your perspective.
EDIT: Oh, I see what you’re asking now. The alternate epilogue depends on a highly specific set of choices. But good job getting the “good ending”!

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I really enjoyed that story, I will do another playthrough today and come back with feedbacks. :slight_smile:

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The beginning is still too wall of texty, haha. But I’m worried that breaking it up would remove the impact.

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I think you’re good since you did mentioned that in the intro. :blush:

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@Wannabe_Human As we both know, I copy/pasted this feedback from elsewhere, buuuut I miiiiiight have written SO much about various topics elsewhere that you’ll never be able to respond to it all. :sweat_smile:

So I will give it to you here.

Definitely my favorite among your stories. :grin:

Bits of the protagonist’s thoughts were relatable. Which was really cool. I couldn’t really relate to the other protagonists at all, so while the story (or beginning of them at least) was interesting, I was more detached yet curious and less invested in a particular outcome.

The stark contrast between the protagonist’s idyllic dream of his family and the actual memories of the time with his family were very intriguing and kept me engaged and wanting to understand.

The ending — where the protagonist realizes his wife and children are all much better off without him in their lives, his wife never really meant what she said in the call, and that he’s going to die alone and unmissed and sounds like probably condemned to Hell — was very memorable and striking.

The really interesting part was Death saying that the protagonist never really loved his family. One could definitely argue that the protagonist only loves the idealized visions of his family and not their true selves, and that he actually treated them all like shit.

BUT…this guy almost literally fought through hell, complete with monsters and demonic entities, across the entire country, to get to them. He potentially gave up his own hand or his capacity to give hugs to get to them.

And he did seem to genuinely WANT to do things right and help them - like he WANTED to fix the daughter’s doll - but he was just too screwed up for it to turn out right. He didn’t seem to treat them like shit because he wanted to, more like because he couldn’t control his inner demons.
So one could also argue that he did love them deeply in the best way he could…but the best he could was always inhibited and stymied by his demons because he was a deeply flawed individual.

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I love me some horror fiction. Surreal? All the better. Plus, Kavinsky “Nightcall” is a really nice touch. I’ll get to the whole of it as soon as I have time.

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I’ll put my answer in spoiler tags, just in case.

Exactly. The protagonist fought incredibly hard to return to his family, even though it has been proven to him time and time again that he won’t be able to change and will just harm them with his presence. The loving thing to do is leave them alone and let them live their life without him. His actions aren’t necessarily selfish, but they don’t have to be. They are hurting others. His intentions are noble, but he can’t fix himself.

@king-klutz
Hope you enjoy! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

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@Wannabe_Human Fair enough I suppose. Though I feel like when people walk out on others because they think it’s the best thing for them, they somehow forget that their abandonment/rejection can be equally or more emotionally scarring than their presence.

Say the protagonist did just never see his family again like he “should have.” His ex-wife did actually kick him out and probably wanted him gone. But his kids would spend their whole lives feeling like Daddy didn’t want them. That they aren’t good enough. That they are NOTHING. That no one could or ever would love or want them or think they are worth their time. That they weren’t worth Daddy making an effort. (I know this cause #rejectionissues :grin:).

Is that better or worse than having a screwup loved one that is there and tries their hardest but just can’t change? Depends on the person it is done to, I would think. But it isn’t that clear cut.

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Of couse, while it’s a story about figthing for your family and everything people commented before me, It tells us about lie to ourservels too - he had the best family, the best wife, but none of them was the best, he just told himself that they were because he wanted them to be.

Then it makes the story about wanting too - wanting his family to be the best, wanting to fix things - and it just makes everything so more complicated I loooooove this type of game. (well it’s almost one a.m. where I am, so don’t mind what I’m saying, I’m sleepy and my brain isn’t working anymore heh).

There are only four endings, right? The standard, the special (one and none special hotel room) and the “good” ending.

OOOOOOOH and the “scene” when you put fire in your car made me laugh so much… then I tried again and remembered that this isn’t a game to laugh of.

Thank you for this story. I’ll sure check your other stories now since I have a room waiting for me in the Northern Elysium Hotel :wink:

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I completely agree. He has built them up to be something they aren’t. They’re only human, after all. Hope you enjoyed!

Yeah, only 4 endings for now. Thinking about adding more, though. Maybe a make those more in depth or something?

Hey, that scene is supposed to be a bit of comic relief. I’m glad it brought some happiness to you. I don’t think many people have seen it yet.

And what are you doing up at 1? Sleep is important!

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cross-country drives really do be like that sometimes.

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Yeah, haha. I hate getting attacked by horrible monstrosities and other assorted horrors when all I wanna do is visit my aunt!

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UPDATE: Cleaned up some text and odd sentences. Fixed a rare bug that only seemed to exist this morning. Began work on another chapter, but haven’t put it in yet.

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So the knife is pointless?

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Giving my thoughts as I read, forgive the haphazard order they’re in:

  • Hahaha. I laughed - when I probably shouldn’t have - when I saw the text where the stats screen would be.

  • When the narrator finally realizes everything has gone to hell, I find the the repeat of certain phrases (Isaiah doesn’t seem to mind; he was glad to get his sister’s attention.) quite captivating. It feels like a mantra. It is a mantra for the narrator who’s trying to cope with reality.

  • I like the little details here and there in-between the main clues. The wife’s phone number scribbled on a cigarette box from a brand that’s out of business. Little details like that make the narrator’s world further trapped in the past. Everything around him is old and decaying or dead.

  • I like the fact that the phone call between the narrator and his wife aren’t written out explicitly. It doesn’t need to be explicitly written out. All we need to know is what the gist of the conversation was. The emotional pull is more important than the specific content.

  • As someone else has said, as the narrator persists through his hellish trials, we, the audience, slowly uncover what the reality of his life was. It’s a nice way to uncover his backstory.

Final Thoughts

I hesitate to call this lovely because it’s not, not really. Just like the narrator’s opening sequence, the wonderfully grotesque descriptions of the mundane are just that. An illusion to hide the horrible and tragic reality that is the narrator’s life.

This story reminds me of Bojack Horseman. It’s a goofy adult cartoon that has a shitty protagonist who’s an alcoholic and drug addict who’s shallow life amounts to hurting others, either intentionally or unintentionally.

The narrator is an addict and codependent and abusive. He maybe even narcissistic, but I’m less sure about that. He is a drug user, an alcoholic, abusive, and most of all afraid. That fear, however, does not justify his horrible actions. Whether or not he loves his wife is debatable, but what is fairly obvious is that he needs his wife to complete himself, to feel good about himself. He loves her because of what she does for him, intentionally or otherwise; he does not love her because she’s her own person. Perhaps at one point but not now.

As we learned from the flashbacks, the wife is just as codependent as the narrator. You could even say she relapsed when she called the narrator and asks him to make it work even though she knows they’re not good for each other and how they’ve hurt each other. Neither are perfect. They are human and they are flawed. Just like we, the audience, are.

There’s a saying that there are only three outcomes for an addict. Insanity, prison, or death. And it’s sad because it’s true. Addiction is the only prison where the locks are on the inside and you don’t want to unlock the door because the other side is scary and your fear eats at you.

I’ll cut this short because I’m rambling but all in all? This is a grotesque yet tragically beautiful story about addiction and codependence. And perhaps the worst tragedy of them all is when the ones who love you the most, love you unconditionally, finally give up on you.

Missing space between word and comma.

Missing capitalization.

Weird formatting. Can be on its own line, I believe. It would have more of an impact.

Missing capitalization.

Seems to be that it should be It took her a few weeks before she had the gall to bring it up to you.

The only nitpick-y thing I would have to add is when we get to have a second object, could you include the text like:

*if item_amount = 1
           Is this the second item?

Maybe even add a *disable_reuse command here because I wasn’t paying close attention and picked the map twice.

Also I checked your code and even though you have the *sm_init command included in the startup.txt file, you need to also click this check box when you go to edit your story.

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Nah, it can be used to skip a “fight” scene on a certain path. Honestly most of the items have a similar usage; to skip a difficult check or puzzle.

@AChubbyBlackCat
Wow! Thanks for the detailed feedback! Really appreciate it!

Nothing wrong with a little levity. Go too dark for too long, and you risk inducing apathy in the audience. There are a few scenes contained that I would consider to be comedic.

Yeah, the whole beginning passage gets mirrored. The sentences just shift to suit the new events.

I began watching Bojack shortly after the completion of this tale. Honestly it has become one of my favorite animated cartoons of all time.

Oof. Hope those errors didn’t take you out of the story too much. I’ll fix them soon.

That issue was derived from my horrible understanding of coding. I’ll fix it.

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Nah, don’t worry about it. Those types of things don’t break my immersion. Thanks though.

Best of luck!

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