Awesome, thanks for trying to fix that issue! And no pressure, I’m sure you’re busy! Here’s my essay:
Firstly, it seems like a TON of work has gone into this game so far, with even more to come, and I’m incredibly grateful for your dedication. I’ve been playing this game for the past week or so and it’s taken up many hours of my life, including the ones I spent thinking about it when I wasn’t playing it. In a good way. It really captivated my attention for like a whole week, and I simultaneously wanted to get to the ending to find out what happened as soon as possible, but wanted it to never end because I was having so much fun playing it.
I appreciate that there was never pages and pages of text with no choices, nothing wrong with that but personally it makes games very hard to pay attention to and get into for me. I was so interested in the story that I read every page without skipping anything, when normally I just skim through stories to get enough information to make choices because there’s too much reading. I appreciated getting the choice over even seemingly small and dumb things, like what outfit I wanted to wear. I liked that things from the past kept reappearing and there was a lot of callbacks to earlier events or things, made it feel rewarding that I was actually paying attention.
I think the wit and silliness mixed with very sincere and serious moments was done really well. It switches from fun and comedic to emotional or thought-provoking from moment to moment in a way that doesn’t feel abrupt or unnecessary. When I started the game I thought it was going to be a light-hearted adventure but I could never have expected what I got instead. In one scene I was introduced to a tiny baby radish god being carried by a kangaroo and in the next scene I was crying over his brutal murder. Holy shit.
The puns, wordplay, and very descriptive writing style make it so fun to read. Every character you meet and places you go are very unique, each place has it’s own theme and each character has their own personality, and the details of the world are very creative and silly and it makes exploring the world extremely fun, you never know what you’re going to find. Whether I’m in awe of how beautiful the landscape is or I’m rolling my eyes because of some place with an extremely ridiculous name, I enjoyed every moment in this game. I was very impressed by how no matter how silly some of the conventions of this world were, they were always very well thought out and had a purpose in addition to just being there to be funny. Loved the concept of having different places to go to on a larger quest, it made sure the game was never boring because you’ll periodically move on to a completely new place to explore and new people to meet. Although I often found myself feeling sad when I had to leave a place because I had gotten used to it and didn’t want to leave yet, lol. I wish I could continue this road trip with my friends forever.
All of the romance options were fantastic, which is very impressive! How did you make me like all of these characters, especially since they often don’t like each other?! And sometimes don’t even like me! It sucks because I can’t choose all of them! (Looking forward to those poly options you may have planned…) They all had their own personalities and opinions and I got to really know them and become friends with them through travelling with them. I like that you had to learn the other character’s personality and get to know them and how to act around them rather than them falling in love with you just by talking to them.
I really like the concept of forcing the player to travel with two companions with opposite worldviews so you don’t end up with a bias towards one because you haven’t been exposed to the other. Knowing that I probably couldn’t please all of my friends and the tension of fearing that they might leave me or hurt me if I disagreed with them was really intense and genuinely terrifying because I loved all of my companions. Wondering if they were keeping secrets or conspiring against me made me feel very unsafe and insecure. What if all my friends end up hating me and they all leave me? What if I can’t please all of them? What if they choose a different side than I do? I hate and love you for not letting me get to say goodbye to some of my friends or getting a very brief and sad goodbye before I sent them off to war, and not even knowing if they were my friends anymore in some cases. Damn.
The plot is very simple and easy to understand, the way this world works is easy to understand, but it’s still a compelling and complicated conflict. I love when games give you opportunities to talk to characters about what they/you think, and lets you establish your opinions (or lack of them), and also recognizes that your opinions might change as you learn new things or in different situations. There are times when the game allows you to not be sure about how you feel, and times when it forces you to take a stand on your own opinions and beliefs, and I think it did a good job of knowing when which of those times were appropriate. And the conflict was more complicated than just “you can be on the good side or the bad side”. Unlike in games that immediately let you know who the “right choice” is, I spent most of the game being genuinely confused about which side I agreed with and who I should be rooting for. That was very well done and I think it’s hard to do as a writer. We might have an instinct to make one side clearly the “bad guy” and the other the “good guy” but I appreciated the nuance. Many good stories have enough tension just in playing out your fight for victory and to do the right thing but there aren’t a lot of stories that actually capture the process of determining good from bad or what exactly the “right thing” is. Especially when there may not even be any good options. I loved how the leader of the “good” side was someone I really disliked and the leader of the “bad” side was someone I really liked, which made figuring out how I felt even more confusing, in a good way. The “plot twist” with the leaders switching sides was brilliant, I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like it before.
If I had any criticisms, the only thing I’d possibly want to change about the game is that I feel like the exposition is too quick. I feel like there could be more of an introduction to this town and the people in it and the conflict between the two fighting parties to set up for the rest of the story. When Applebrook or any of the characters from there are mentioned later on, I didn’t feel like I had much of an emotional connection to it/them. It didn’t really feel like my home, and it didn’t feel like a place I had a strong attachment to that I’d want to return to. I feel like it could make the return of characters from Applebrook later on have much more of an impact and feel more exciting. It might also be nice to have a bit of a slow-paced introduction before getting right into the conflict and excitement.
Another very small thing I might suggest would be the option to customize the MC’s genitals for the sexual content. I see that there is at least the option to play as a nonbinary character, but I played as male and there were some details in certain scenes that assumed that my character had a penis. It might be nice to be able to select from trans man or trans woman options when choosing your character’s gender as well as cis man and cis woman, but it’s not too big of a deal.
My only other criticism: not enough pocket goat content. Would prefer him as the main character instead. I think we all know who the real hero of this story is.
Other than that, I wanted to mention that there are some descriptions of Vera having a rock hand after I’d talked her out of doing that procedure. Did I miss a part where she changed her mind, or is that an error?
That’s all from me. I’ll be waiting as patiently as I possibly can for the next chapter!