My Father's Long, Long Legs


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Rating: 4.5/5 (119 votes)
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My Father's Long, Long Legs

DoraMichael Lutz's piece of Twine-crafted interactive fiction horror piece My Father's Long, Long Legs (hosted here with generous permission) might just be one of the finest, most cleverly executed pieces of freaky fiction I've ever read. Best enjoyed with the lights out and the sound up (and headphones on, if you're rockin' 'em), it tells the story of a girl whose father one day suddenly comes home from work and begins digging a hole in the dirt-floored basement of their house. Day after day he spends every free moment down there, coming up only to eat, use the bathroom, and work... and once his factory closes, he stops coming up at all. But maybe that's for the best, since as the years drag by, he begins to resemble less and less the man she once knew... and something less than human. Just click the bolded text to choose how you want to advance through the story. Note that in some cases, the game may appear to stop without giving you a choice, but this is just for effect... just wait a moment for the next bit of text to appear.

This is the sort of thing that typically starts internet slap-fights over what is and isn't a game (yawn), so as much as I loved it, it was initially bound for Link Dump Friday. Then I remembered it's my job to bring you guys interesting, clever, fun things. Then I also remembered I get to do whatever I want, and once I had gone mad with power and refused everyone access to the water cooler and ordered John Bardinelli to work under his desk, I got to work on this. Because through the use of some genuinely brilliant tricks with lighting and sound, Michael Lutz has crafted one of the most elegantly creepy experiences on the internet. The end sequence, the game's only "puzzle", is tense and nightmarish. It's well written, intensely atmospheric, even claustrophobic at times, and frightening without ever resorting to cheap scares and gore. It has the feel of the sort of horror story best read in the midnight hours during wintertime, and while some players won't like the relative ambiguity of the ending, the wonderful way it's executed makes this a chilling, bite-sized example of unknowable horror. Hopefully we see a lot more from Lutz in the future.

Play My Father's Long, Long Legs

26 Comments

Okay I am a dunce

Sat here in the dark head phones on - all anticipation at Dora's review

I cant get past the first screen ......

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What problems are you having, yaddab? Remember to click the bolded text to advance. The first text link should be "dirt floor", and it should highlight when you mouse over it.

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Thanks Dora off I go ....as I said I was being a dunce :)

missed the bold

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Does this game have multiple endings?

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5/5 and back to try for another ending tomorrow--- keep John under his desk and well done Dora for a fab spot !

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https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmLJkHy4Xbuswd6LBBwk7GqMupEh_FbB6I Author Profile Page September 26, 2013 7:39 PM

Amazingly, unquantifiably, astoundingly....BRILLIANT! Ambiguous ending or not, I don't care. That's art.

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A mildly interesting short story. It's not very "interactive" - for the most part, the interaction is the same as turning a page or pressing a button to advance a fixed dialogue. But given how annoying the later interactive loop is, it's probably for the best that there isn't much of it. It was irritating enough that I don't want to trudge through it again in search of a potentially happier ending than the one I got.

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Northern.Kestral Author Profile Page September 27, 2013 12:16 AM

I've been a fan of horror games for many years, and like to think my nerves are fairly steady. I made it through "Exmortis" 1 and 2 in a dark house, wearing headphones, with only a desk lamp on. "The House" got me a bit more frazzled and I stuck with speakers. But when

I descended the stairs, the white-on-black type vanished, and I had to grope my way with a flashlight

That did it: lights went on, sound was turned down. And I admit the

digging man's (?) humming

creeped me out enough that I found myself physically moving back from the computer.

Hopefully this is the first of many such works. Lutz builds atmosphere slowly and effectively, pulling you into the narrative step by step. You don't realize how deep you are in it until the screen transition ... and by then, you REALLY want to stop, but your curiosity's grown too strong to go back.

A slow, deliberate, beautifully sadistic piece of work.

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zbeeblebrox Author Profile Page September 27, 2013 12:21 AM

Are there sound effects early on, or do they only show up later? I want to make sure this is working for me before I go any further. I'm just past the parts where you read about the narrator, her mother and brother, and so far haven't heard anything

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allyson.lieberman Author Profile Page September 27, 2013 12:30 AM

Can definitely see the Junji Ito in this -- reminds me very much of that one comic about the holes. Deliciously creepy, although

the final illustration of the father's legs was rather Shel Silverstein-y

. Either way, I liked this very much.

In the end, do any of your choices matter, or will you eventually get the same text?

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I, too, would like to know if there are multiple endings, and if so, how I might influence what I get.

I've been through the game thrice now, and I get the same ending, even though I did different choices each time. Then again, I could just be doing it wrong. The last scene does not lend itself well to carefully reasoned choices, with the deliberately minimalistic presentation and the necessary constraints of the mood the author was trying to create.

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RaisedNtheWild Author Profile Page September 27, 2013 3:33 AM

I do not know what I am doing wrong, but towards the end when

her and her brother return to the house

It keeps repeating paragraphs. Am I supposed to select bold words in a sequence?

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Enjoyable, and I would read more works like this.

The writing is stylish entertaining to read, and the narrative was brief enough that you didn't lose interest. The interactive bits at the end gave it a House of Leaves vibe. I'd argue that it's simply an example of ergodic literature (although ergodic literature is rarely simple) rather than a game, which is fine by my.

I thought the circular part near the end did exactly what it was meant to do - relay a sense of confusion to the reader. I suspect there is really only one 'ending', triggered when you realize that you can't "solve" the last section.

Once again, I would read more works like this.

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Hi zbeeblebrox!

I don't think you should hear any sound effects until later in the game when you return to the house and search the basement.

To everyone having issues with the ending "puzzle" sequence,

all you need to do is explore until the game tells you that you can follow the "sound of digging". Keep following it. It will take a while and might not seem like you're getting anywhere, but remember... this tunnel has been dug for a LONG time, so it's deep!

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Dear Diary
Today Dora went mad with power
It has begun
Remember to pack the cookies
This will be fun

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All I can really say is this absolutely resounds with Junji Ito. And I can't say that as anything but high praise.

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malone.audrey Author Profile Page September 29, 2013 1:21 AM

Holy cow that was amazing! It doesn't seem terribly hard to make, (Though it probably is a lot more work than I realize) and I want to read ALL my creepypastas in this format from now on! XD

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The relevant Junji Ito comic is called "The Inn". Well, the closest one I guess. They're all probably related.

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Would someone who has already played this tell me if there are any 'screamers' (upsetting imagery suddenly popping up on the screen or unexpected loud noises)? I love creepy things and read a lot of Lovecraft, so I'm not concerned about the material, but sudden jolting sound or visuals are not good for my nerves.

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vampphoenix99 Author Profile Page February 14, 2014 6:00 PM

@Troy Navarita

There isn't anything like that, unless you count the sound of digging.

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I'm not even hitting any loop... Whatever I do it ends when

his brothers friend tells them his father is digging to hell

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That does seem like a valid ending and there definitely doesn't seem to be anything else after that (I've left it for over an hour). But I feel like maybe I'm missing a branch somewhere? The only branches I've found are

Mums story, brothers story and my story but no other branchings and no option to explore the basement?

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Ah, having now found the original it seems that the next line of text at this point falls outside the bottom of your frame for some reason.

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I had the same issue as Ruth, actually. Hitting tab a few times got me to the option, but it did indeed load outside of the screen region.

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