When it comes to Choice games, I would hesitate in the designation of such works as art, at least in most cases. There are exceptions, though. Choice of Rebels and Choice of Robots are the two best works that I have seen here; Choice of Alexandria is also good but not as good as Robots, and there are a few others that I would also view as good but not fantastic.
That is not to suggest there is a lack of skill here, of course. It mainly has to do with the complexity of Choice games, weaving storylines together to make them coherent and flowing, and trying to come up with variations of the same general story and settings due to a players choices. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that we are writing several books at once with any choice game. It is no wonder that Choice of Rebels took seven painstaking years to finish.
Choice of Rebels, on a more specific note, does require some time to become familiar with the in-game use of language and some of the in-game mechanics. The winter mechanics specifically. Yes, I know we can have the deputy take over, but, if you are more of the hands on type to begin with, you will naturally take this option, and likely fail. I would have liked to have seen a bit more instruction, from Zvad since he is meant to be the expert outlaw, in what is best to do to keep the band fed and alive. I know that Choice of Rebels got the best sales of any CoG game, but I do wonder if anyone was put off of an otherwise fantastic game for these reasons.
The only other point I would raise is that I largely felt that this one game was little more than one long prologue, almost as though the author decided to simply cut the story here and continue it as a separate installment. In Heroes Rising, each installment is its own complete game with its own complete story, and the ending felt like an legitimate ending. This is not how I felt for Choice of Rebels, this one was more a tease to the real story that we have yet to see, which is how I found the first installment of the Lost Heir as well. Just like the Lost Heir, I imagine the next Choice of Rebels installment will be more satisfying in its own ending.
Besides all of these critiques, Choice of Rebels is some of the best work I have seen here. It’s use of language is original but not daunting, once you get used to the in-game terminology, and seems to be deceptively clever. It is like with the suspicion of Breden. It is possible to explain away all the misfortunes that are supposely attributed to a spy in the band just as it is possible that you did have a Hegemonic Kryptast agent in Breden. Cleverly, both possibilities remain open, and I suspect this is how the author wanted it.
The simplified stats screen is nothing but a Gods’ send. It can be intimidating to look at the stats and see a long list of variables you have to try and work out, mostly leading to disaster if you get it wrong, which you likely will. At least Choice of Rebels is meant to hold more realism, I suspect, something that you can play once and get a reasonable ending if you choose wisely. This shows you can get satisfying variety with only just a few core variables to work with.
And I should leave it here for now. My complete assessment of Choice of Rebels could become a dissertation that it is so long, which our poor author will find out about soon enough.