Monday, 6 October 2014

Zest by Fear Of Twine

This isn't much of a review of Zest because I found myself sufficiently uninterested in it that I didn't play a whole game. I am a person who wills himself to become bored when negotiating recreational drugtaking in fiction, and I draw a similar blank on religion – and Zest might be about some kind of binary between these two things. So I brought little to this game and I took little.

Zest is a click’n’text Twine game in which you play a guy lying on a couch who variously goes to work, takes showers, gets high or goes to church. Each day follows a similar routine and you just click the option you want.

The retro-res graphic of your avatar lying on the couch is the centrepiece of the game. I found the head of the couch-dwelling character to be visually uninterpretable. It looks like someone shotgunned his head off and that we're beholding the gory aftermath. But his chest is moving! – so I know that can't be right. Though I swear that it looks exactly as I just described.

The character’s physical excursions prompt various sprays of stream of consciousness and dialogue, sometimes coming from the character, sometimes from folks he bumps into. A drunk, workmates, his dealer, etc. Without any additional prose to further contextualise or illustrate what's going on, novel visual effects and dynamics are applied to the text to suggest the quality or source of each encounter.

Just trying to place who might be saying or thinking each thing was the element of Zest I liked the most, but overall I felt these exchanges were floating in a non-sequiturial vacuum where I couldn’t care about them. I found no interest in my own character. Events didn't seem to develop from day-to-day. I mostly went cold turkey on the drugs due to my personal feelings of boredom on that subject (by clicking on other options, I hoped I could skip reading about me getting high or taking dope or whatever) so if that's where more interesting content lay, I didn't see it and mea culpa. But after watching the shower animation and reading the unchanged shower message for the umpteenth time, I didn’t feel confident that I or the game were going anywhere that would interest me, so I quit.

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