Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

IFComp 2016 Review: To the Wolves

Posted by Reiko on November 24, 2016

This is a review of a game from the 2016 Interactive Fiction Competition. Scoring criteria can be found here.

To the Wolves
Author: Els White
Format: Web

I rather liked this one. It starts out as a survival story of a girl who was intended to be a sacrifice but managed to escape into the forest instead. Later it turns rather more surreal as a spirit saves her life and gives her a task in order to set at rest the spirits of all the girls who were sacrificed before her. The game offers three different endings and five achievements. I played through four times and found only two of each, although one of the achievements just says “Achievement 1 – You did a thing!” I am not sure if that’s a glitch or sarcasm. The others all have names and, once unlocked, descriptions.

I found the text to be evocative and blessedly free of any noticeable typos or errors. Most of the story is similar on every playthrough, especially because some choices seem to make no difference to the immediate outcome. But many choices have subtle repercussions based on two hidden traits, so it’s difficult to determine what might make a difference later. In general, choices favoring attacking and strength favor one trait, while choices favoring stealth and problem-solving favor the other trait. In addition to whatever trait effects they might have, a few choices have cosmetic effects, such as how the girl decorates the hut she lives in and how she tracks time. Those choices are remembered and carried forward to any relevant descriptions later.

It’s worth replaying a few times to see the different plot branches, but finding every achievement is not easy, and I have no idea where the third ending is. I got the general “Victorious” ending three different ways, and the other ending I found was only a failure leading to death, which was actually a deliberate choice. I’d be interested to see a walkthrough later to see what I missed, as there isn’t one offered with the competition release.

Time: 45 min
Scoring: base 7, +1 for multiple endings
Score: 8

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