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Catachresis


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Rating: 3.7/5 (33 votes)
| Comments (18) | Views (133)

Catachresis

DoraWhen you've got tentacles, bleedin' through your walls, who ya gonna call?!... well, Jeff. See, Jeff and his coworkers are part of a sort of supernatural cleanup force, called in to deal with all the sorts of paranormal nastiness you and I can't handle. But he's no Dean or Sam... just a regular guy putting in his nine to five. So at the start of Cameron Kunzleman's linear interactive narrative/adventure game Catachresis, Jeff doesn't really think much is out of the ordinary at the job he's been called into. After all, cryptic writing, the moans of the nether... it's all just a paycheck to him. Nothing he can't handle... right?

Use the left and right [arrow] keys to move, press the up [arrow] to interact and advance text, and the down [arrow] when available to turn on and off the light. You can hit [S] to save your game, and [L] to load your last save. With no puzzles to speak off, it's almost tending more towards a piece of interactive art than anything else. With its clever writing and engaging premise, Catachresis feels like what could be the start of a really great, full-fledged adventure game if it were fleshed out more and stripped of some of the pointlessly long walking sequences. The concept of a regular Joe whose dayjob is dealing with this (and the accompanying paperwork) is refreshing after all the "YOU ARE THE CHOSEN ONE" Buffy-style premises in most media.

Catachresis has some simple yet effective atmosphere, and a great balance between dry humour and some genuinely chilling moments in its writing. If not for all that Cthulhu-cursed drawn-out walking, especially in the latter half of the game, it would be about the perfect little short-story style experience. There are definitely times when it feels drawn out for a perceived cinematic effect in a way that actually winds up a little frustrating and tedious instead. Some players will find it too slow, and others may feel that the latter half's more surreal, Lovecraft/Twin Peaksian tone is a bit much to take or doesn't quite fit with the rest of the setup. Your mileage will vary. For my part, Catachresis is an engaging slow boil of a story that pairs impressive characterisation with the sort of horror you don't see enough of these days... chilling, imaginative, large in scope... and completely without jump scares of any kind. Hopefully we see more of it.

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18 Comments

Well, that was a...thing. I have no idea what was going on. But it was pretty.

But MAN there's a lot of ssllloowww walking. This one should be titled "Walking Simulator 2013".

Pro tip:

A piece of tape on the right arrow key works wonders

Actual real question, since I'm not going through that again:

Does it matter what object you pick?

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https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawm_0MNw6T2dJJX4vjKJJNkx0FSrWFVtc3Q Author Profile Page September 23, 2013 1:41 PM

Well, if you'd tell us

What item you picked, maybe we could tell you.

I picked hope. Chloe came out and met the rest of the team. They talked about how things would start over again once it was all destroyed (maybe that was the hope?) Then Chloe and Laura held hands while some giant tentacles destroyed the city.

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Oops, yes, that might have been useful. Unfortunately, for analysis purposes, I picked the same thing...

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I thankfully saved before said point, so I could go back.

Unfortunately, the key gave the same exact thing, with no apparent changes. And I doubt the mask will do anything different.

It kind of fits with the 'there was nothing TO do' dialog after you go back to the 'real' world.

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Agree with argyblarg, that was, uh, interesting, I guess. Seriously, could have cut the walking by 80%, and would have radically improved the game (albeit made it notably shorter. Maybe it was designed to increase dramatic tension - it felt like padding, however.

Parts of this reminded me of Charles Stross's Laundry series of novels - fighting nameless horrors from the beyond, while dealing with office politics and government bureaucracy.

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Apart from the walking, this is a very slow burning horror game with new age and old penny dreadful feels to it.

a fun fact, REVET I STYKKER, which is what our first protagonist says at the demonic computer, is Danish and means: "Torn asunder"

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I am, ironically, stuck at the screen that tells you how to save. Since I've successfully played HTML5 games with the same setup... alas. (The screen is even blue.)

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POP... I think it was some weird focus thing.

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Didn't care for it much. Seems like a lot of the time, people think that writing horror means throwing a lot of words on top of each other and lots of graphic detail. But it doesn't.

When every antagonist basically tells you "I want to kill you! But, I can't, cause my boss said so," one loses investment in the story very quickly. It basically tells me that I'll never be in any danger of anything happening, good, bad, it'll just be meaningless because there's no risk. And to throw in a joke about "the author would like you to sigh," is either a sign of complete blindness to the conventions of the genre, or some a spectacularly self-aware statement that even the author knew that this wasn't scary or exciting. Terror is the unknown, the familiar subtly twisted, the shape in the fog, not six pages of demonic history and some black tentacles.

[Edited in spoiler tags. Please remember to be kind to your fellow readers when discussing plot elements. Thank you! -Ed.]

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I rather liked this. The walking included.

I... think this is not supposed to be terror. It's a subset of horror, which is actually quite old. Science fiction (the kind that's not made of solely of explosions) is quite fond of it. There is far more to the general miasma of the horror genreboth temporally and geographicallythan just what puts goosebumps on your neck. It *is* incredibly conceptual, and thus it won't be to everyone's liking, but there's just too many *specifics* in the framework to say "this is not part of the convention." Uh, yeah. There's plenty of convention here. Just not the ones that are familiar to this generation.

If you're not into digging into the archives of the miasma, then just go in with no expectations. See: Samsara Room. In my opinion, it's far more effective to look at this as an art piece; art doesn't always conform to your constructs.

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I think you'll find, Moshioshi, that that's an entirely subjective opinion. :) What's not horror to you can be horror to someone else. That's the beauty of the genre. There's nothing it's "supposed" to be.

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I think you'll find even Lovecraft disagreed there.

"In writing a weird story I always try very carefully to achieve the right mood and atmosphere, and place the emphasis where it belongs. One cannot, except in immature pulp charlatanfiction, present an account of impossible, improbable, or inconceivable phenomena as a commonplace narrative of objective acts and conventional emotions. Inconceivable events and conditions have a special handicap to overcome, and this can be accomplished only through the maintenance of a careful realism in every phase of the story except that touching on the one given marvel. This marvel must be treated very impressively and deliberatelywith a careful emotional build-upelse it will seem flat and unconvincing. Being the principal thing in the story, its mere existence should overshadow the characters and events. But the characters and events must be consistent and natural except where they touch the single marvel. In relation to the central wonder, the characters should shew the same overwhelming emotion which similar characters would shew toward such a wonder in real life. Never have a wonder taken for granted. Even when the characters are supposed to be accustomed to the wonder I try to weave an air of awe and impressiveness corresponding to what the reader should feel. A casual style ruins any serious fantasy."

In no part did I find any marveling in any of the unnatural events.

Please note, I'm not necessarily trying to troll or be cruel, but I'm very disappointed in this game. It's obvious the author(s) took the time out to create, code, write, etc., etc., and seem to have forgotten to take the step of looking for honest criticism of the piece.

Today, we see more often something I think was always there, a "don't rock the boat" mentality, where people are afraid to speak out against anything that's not clearly cut as being "bad". Writers, artists, people of all stripes, please fight this impulse to be offended at criticism. If someone takes the time to write out a criticism, kiss them firmly on both cheeks, because they cared enough about your work to actually think about it, and took time to formulate thoughts and put them in some medium. Your work affected them, and they were brave enough and good enough to share that with you. Strings of swears and insults aside, criticism is good for you, the same way broccoli may not taste the best, but is much better for your health than the sweetest candy. I thought about this game, I took the time to analyze my thoughts, and I wrote them out because I want others to see them, and learn.

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I'm not saying "don't rock the boat" at all, Moshioshi, and I value your opinion. I'm just saying that because horror is subjective, you can't say it's "supposed" to be any certain way, regardless of what Lovecraft wrote, especially since his opinion is certainly not the definitive mic drop on the topic of horror regardless of how many people (rightfully) enjoy his work. I'm not offended by any means. I'm just reminding you that just because you didn't find it scary in a certain way or didn't like the way it did things doesn't mean everyone else has to feel the same way and are still able to enjoy it. :) I believe we should avoid telling people how they're supposed to react to things, and how something that deals with such a wildly varied thing as emotion "should" be done. Saying you didn't like something and criticizing it is one thing, while saying something is flat-out wrong because you believe things should be done a certain way is another. We're crafting worlds here, not building a shed, and not everything has to follow someone else's rules. :)

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The game is stuck when the guy says "alright, up and at 'em. This semi-mistery..." for me.

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Strangelander Author Profile Page September 24, 2013 12:06 PM

The game froze upon exiting the third door (I found [SPOILER] inside). I'd visited the other two doors, and the fiery thing has disappeared. Left and right keys pan the screen a bit, that's it.

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@Strangelander: I'm pretty sure that happens anytime you have your flashlight off when you travel from a dark room to a light room.

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@Strangelander - There's a door to your right that the fiery thing was blocking initially.

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merchantfan Author Profile Page September 26, 2013 10:11 PM

Too bad

all the endings for the choices seem to be the same

.

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