Right, this is going to be my first post on the forums and my first review. Honestly…this is the one game that I haven’t enjoyed amongst all the Choice Of games I’ve played (and the hosted ones). All critique is simply from my viewpoint - take it with a grain of salt. The point of interactive fiction is to be interactive and I didn’t feel like my choices had much impact at all. Wanna start a punk band? Sweet. No riots that you spark, no nights in jail, though. It’s the absolute same route for all genres, which hardly makes it worth playing more than once.
The game didn’t give me much impact on my life - I was forced to be in a band with my brother (who turned out quite unlikable for me), and if I didn’t want him to leave me high and dry, I had to change the name I picked to one of the goofy predetermined ones. (Seriously, do I really want to change the name Apocalypse to ‘The [Player Name] Experience’ just to keep one of the band members that realistically I would need at this point?) The path that I took remained the same for a good chunk of my playthroughs - I played at an impromptu thing that my brother pushed me into, I hired all the band members I could except for the vocalist (since I wanted my PC on vocals)…and we did the exact same things. Uno started showboating, there was that time when that one member (either my brother or another band member) passed out and had to be shocked back to life before the show, and every time I ended up getting successful I was branded a ‘sell-out’.
You don’t want players to feel like success is a bad thing - so why do you punish them for it? That was one of the things that annoyed me the most, most importantly because if you don’t get popular, the game ends, and if you do get popular, everyone starts hating you for ‘selling out’. I suppose that’s accurate in the eyes of a hipster, at least.
The biggest gripe that I had, however, was the fact that I was forced into a relationship with someone I hadn’t even known, much less show interest in. I was assuming that eventually we’d be able to talk to our band members and perhaps form a relationship with one of them that made the press thrilled to see…but no such luck, we were pushed into a relationship with a character only introduced for us to be in a relationship with them. (Plus, one of my characters was in a committed relationship with her guitar, thank-you-very-much.) My reaction when said recently-introduced character tried to kiss up to me to put a song onto my album? “HAHAHAHAHA you must be joking now get out.” I’ve always loved the Choice Of romances - they’re usually quite deep and I love the character exploration in each one (although ironically Choice of Romance is my least favorite – but that’s another story for another day) but here it was punted to the side in favor of…what? There wasn’t much else.
The characters had little to no personality and I ended up disliking most of them for doing nothing more than being…there and causing problems. Fran(? I believe that was her name, the manager) was the only one I ended up liking in the end of all this…so much so that I even didn’t like my player character by the end of it all, considering they too as a result had become quite bland and forgettable.
The good parts…I’m not exactly a easy-to-please critic, but I did enjoy the references to other bands and that we could take inspiration from their sound. Too bad that it wasn’t ever really referenced. I also liked the idea of being able to name our songs, but even then we automatically had two songs named for us that we had no input into making it kind of a moot point. The naming-your-band point is what I was thrilled about, but even then, as I mentioned above, the game tried to steer me away from being too creative.
I don’t know. The title had potential (I was actually thrilled when I saw the title, expecting to be able to form my own ‘Spinal Tap’ of sorts), but it didn’t live up to it. Perhaps it could be improved with patches that add more branches, but that overall seems unlikely. I’d say this game isn’t worth buying unless you’re really really really willing to overlook quite a few flaws. I’m sorry, but I’d suggest this one be taken back to the drawing board - there were quite a few ways to make it engaging and interesting (some of which others have mentioned) but they were easily passed by in favor of the linear story.
2/10 - Could be really really better; huge room for improvement; I hope the next game turns out much better