ESC

released on Mar 08, 2018

Enter the memories of Raine as she explores the text-based world of VerdaMUCK, a simulation of the old network within the vast cerebrally-interconnected network of the near future. Meanwhile, a mysterious individual known only as The Navigator exposes the truths of the Cerenet as a conspiracy-in-the-making begins to unfold.


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Lovely visual-novel-esque game that is told as an alternating text-based MUD (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MUD) and a blog-post speculative/scifi thriller. My MMO games of choice as a kid didn't include MUDs (the closest roleplaying I did was in the beta of a game called Face of Mankind), so it was cool to learn about the format in detail and the appeal. Actually I think it would be fun to run a MUD with friends now. If that sounds interesting I'd go play the game now! You can finish it in a few sittings (I think it took me about 4-5 hours).
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I liked the character interactions of Oz, Jace and Raine getting to know each other, the way their commitments to the fiction of the MUD differed, how Oz would offer writing help to others, and the Out of Character (OOC) lines. Their commitment to the world's fiction was nice to see, so I feel sad for Jace/Oz in the end, having in a sense having been 'used' by the company using the MUD as AI research. It's interesting to think about - the ways a corporation might ruin something simple and nice like a Text MUD.
I particularly liked how the story framed the fancy realistic cities at the end as being less interesting than the Text MUD. And it felt true, the MUD worlds (which make up most of the game's text) felt really fun because they were imagined up and given life to by the characters. There's a lot of power and wonder in person-to-person creativity and imagination.
I wondered what the people were doing IRL, reminding me of interacting with people online in games back in the 2000s. The MUD world reminded me of a game idea I've always had, of a game where the world is intentionally updated every week or two with new areas connecting to existing ones, sometimes deliberately, other times kind of random. Sort of like Yume Nikki presumably.

i/o (visual novel, 2006) if it was good.

This was a really fun story to read through. The music really set the tone well, and the minimal graphics did as well. The writing was pretty good too. The only gameplay was mashing the keyboard during the computer segments, which was kinda fun, and it brought me into the story a little bit more. I didn't fully understand what the story meant by the end, but it was a cool read nonetheless.