March 10th, 2013
Judith is a short narrative game by Terry Cavanagh, the guy who did VVVVV and Super Hexagon. You should play it. Only takes 25-30 minutes. Here are some of the ways narrative is delivered in this game:
- The text dialogue sets the context for the interactive sequences. It’s brief and well written, so it’s never intrusive.
- The length of the secret passage creates dead space (where the player can only wait as the avatar moves forward) and thereby anticipation.
- Repeated structures develop simple routines which the player finishes more quickly the more times they complete them. This builds into a climax, adding to the tension as the various revelations unfold. For Judith, the routine is leaving the bedroom, opening the secret passage, and unlocking the next door. For Jeff, this is going to the next room.
- Music is used to set the mood, such as the piano notes at the beginning of each sequence and the prisoner’s cries.
- Judith always begins her part next to the bed. This, along with the dialogue with her husband, creates a sense of time.
- The hardest part of the game, uncovering the secret passage, is also the biggest revelation. So there’s a nice harmony there between difficulty and narrative.
- Forcing the player to leave the secret passage without first prompting them to return the knife or necklace simulates Judith’s uncertainty.
- Control is taken away from the player when Judith runs into the woods. This simulates the character’s fear of her husband and inability to do anything but run away.
- In Judith’s final sequence, the passage door is left open for her (as her husband mentioned in the preluding dialogue). This small difference from the repeated structure asserts a feeling of unease.
There’s a few good comments made by Jason Rohrer here.