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Elizabeth Smyth
Horror / Misc. Fantasy / Text-based
Interpreter (Javascript)

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Herr M.:
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Herr M. (2018-10-27) [hide]

Avatar Darkness holds one of‭ the‭ ‬primal fears of mankind.‭ ‬But why are we afraid of it‭? ‬We are afraid,‭ ‬because something might be lurking in the‭ ‬utter blackness‭ ‬and when it is trying to harm us‭ ‬we will not see‭ ‬it coming.‭ ‬Since it easier for us to deal with the tangible than with the abstract,‭ ‬we tend to antropomorphise our feelings.‭ ‬And this leads to the birth of the bogeyman,‭ ‬our manifested anxieties.‭ ‬Especially children with their more vivid imagination combined with all their insecurities‭ – ‬born out of inexperience‭ – ‬are prone to conjuring them up.‭ ‬And since your fear can be turned against you, parents use it to make their children behave –‭ ‬as cruel as this might be.‭ ‬Yes fear is a powerful tool:‭ ‬Whomever you are afraid of has control over you.‭ ‬And this is one of the main themes of‭ Bogeyman‭.

In this choose-your-own-adventure style of game you,‭ ‬that is a nameless child,‭ ‬got caught by one of the eponymous creatures.‭ ‬Now you have to survive a very dark fairy tale,‭ ‬one of the more morbid stories which would make an excellent bedtime story‭… ‬if you want your children to be‭ ‚‬good‭‘‬.‭ ‬Together with a couple of fellow captives you have to do everything your are told by your oppressor,‭ ‬or you can try to defy him and see what comes of it.‭ ‬What is really interesting about this scenario is,‭ ‬how relatable it is:‭ ‬Anyone has either some knowledge about fairy tales,‭ ‬had their own special fears about bogeymen or has been oppressed one way or another.

Another remarkable thing about the story is the writing.‭ ‬It is excellent at conveying a properly oppressed and dark mood for this kind of setting.‭ ‬With just a couple of‭ ‬cleverly chosen‭ ‬words per section it is always clear what is going on,‭ ‬yet there are more than enough blanks to fill with your own imagination,‭ ‬some bits of darkness so to speak which,‭ ‬like mentioned above,‭ ‬the reader tends to fill with more horrid visions than the author could ever have come up with.‭ ‬Just think of the better fairy tales,‭ ‬those that do not tell you whatever became of each and every person and do not tell you were everything is coming from.‭ ‬Those which take strange behaviour for granted,‭ ‬without the necessity to explain themselves.‭ ‬This conjures up just the right atmosphere for telling such a very dark and weird fairy tale like this one.

What make the experience of going through this game even more compelling are the very lively characters.‭ ‬The main character,‭ ‬the bogeyman,‭ ‬in particular is a great example of how to give a character personality.‭ ‬He is a nightmare come true,‭ ‬all the bad things about your parents‭ (‬like knowing all your darkest secrets,‭ ‬being almighty and always breaking their own rules‭) ‬combined‭ ‬with childlike violence topped off with a very dark sense of humour.‭ ‬A creature that revels in being itself,‭ ‬that knows what it wants and how to get it.‭ ‬And this gives him all the more power.‭ ‬The children around him might seem a bit pale in comparison,‭ ‬but for one thing this‭ ‬suits their fatigue just fine and for another they are still strong enough characters which you can easily tell them apart.‭ This‬ is not a given considering how many of them there are.

Technically speaking the author hit just the right spot between reading and making choices.‭ ‬There are thankfully no extra links to non necessary extra descriptions too,‭ ‬which keeps things focused.‭ ‬As for the choices:‭ ‬There are quite a lot of them and most of them give you a chance to reflect on how you feel about the things that happen to you.‭ ‬A good way to live up to one the good old‭ ‚‬show and do not tell‭‘ ‬rule.‭ ‬Yet it is a bit of a letdown,‭ ‬that most of them have almost no consequence.‭ ‬After three playthroughs‭ (‬one of them following all of the bogeyman‘s orders,‭ ‬one of them defying him whenever possible and one of them testing all the missed choices‭) ‬it was obvious that in the end it only boils down to one final choice totally independent of all the others.‭ ‬Still:‭ ‬The first time around the illusion works so well that it is still a memorable experience.

Since this is a fairy tale it is only natural to also think about what could be the moral of it all.‭ ‬But a warning first:‭ Spoilers ahead‭,‭ ‬so if you want to have the most fun with the game give it a try and return here‭! ‬Roughly speaking you could say that one of the main themes is whether you are willing to accept a forced change or not.‭ ‬Do you stay true to your old believes or are you willing to give in when faced with unfair odds against you‭? T‬he final sacrifice is of course the classic dilemma whether you would rather live knowing you betrayed someone or whether you would rather die and give someone else a chance to go free.‭ ‬Yet the question everything boils down to is:‭ ‬Do you rather follow authority or your conscience‭? ‬And I think one of the best things about‭ Bogeyman‭ ‬is that it does not judge your final decision.‭ ‬An easy and patronising answer would have ruined the whole thing and in the end it is a lot more interesting to let the players decide and make up their own minds.

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