Spring Thing 2013: Witch’s Girl

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Witch’s Girl is a Twine game entered in the Spring Thing 2013 competition. It’s a light-hearted fantasy puzzle game with tropes from fairy tales and children’s fiction. Structurally a bit reminiscent of Andrew Plotkin’s puzzly multiple-choice fanfic Bigger Than You Think, Witch’s Girl rewards playing back through previously visited branches of a CYOA tree with new knowledge; it leverages Twine’s variable-tracking abilities to open up new avenues from certain pages. Illustrated with childlike drawings, it looks and feels different both from parser IF and from many of the blue-and-black Twine games recently released.

More thoughts, evaluative but not too spoilery, follow the jump.

In Witch’s Girl, as in Bigger Than You Think — and for that matter certain other choice-based puzzlers like The Binary — there’s a narrative bit about time and space travel allowing you to revisit past events; this accounts for your multiple visits to the same nodes of the story tree. Unlike BTYT, Witch’s Girl isn’t so much rewarding cleverness as thoroughness; where in BTYT it was possible to use inventory objects in unexpected ways, and thus make conceptual leaps to solve problems, in Witch’s Girl you either don’t have what you need (in which case the text hints, through phrasing and typography, that you’re probably stuck for the time being) or you do (in which case the path through is usually obvious, a special path open that wasn’t before). If there’s a problem, you probably need to go back and replay some bit from earlier.

In practice, this means that once you’ve played Witch’s Girl once, you probably won’t feel much need to replay, because you’ve already done all or almost all of the possible branches.

In tone, Witch’s Girl reminded me a little of Six and It — both games about children’s occupations. It also made me think of some of Hanako Games/Spiky Caterpillar’s work, which are explicitly education simulators in which the time the player spends on different lessons determines the skillset she’ll have to address future problems.

Overall? Solid, gently amusing, longer than a lot of CYOA pieces, without reaching either the complex state of most Choice of Games stories, or the personality and revelatory qualities of a lot of recent Twine pieces. I enjoyed it, but wouldn’t rank it as a breakthrough or must-play piece.

7 thoughts on “Spring Thing 2013: Witch’s Girl

      • But I thought it was playable on the ST website.

        Anyway, I would just like to know what the “Among other things” are.

      • I think you can safely assume that ‘Among other things’ is an intentionally vague phrase intended to sum up all the reasons she hasn’t played the game that have nothing to do with the game itself (or the system).

    • The same page has a disclaimer that the game is buggy or unplayable online, though. So I don’t think it would be fair to play something the author has warned is non-optimal and then review that; from my point of view, Windows is the only reasonable option, and it just happens that right now Windows is much more of a pain for me to use than most other platforms.

      Anyway, I would just like to know what the “Among other things” are.

      The “other things” are everything else I needed to do this month. Asking me for a list sounds like saying, “Well, missy, you better have a darn good excuse for not writing this review for me yet!” That would be ridiculous, so let’s assume it’s not what you meant.

      If there’s something else you were wondering but not asking directly, though, I’m afraid I just don’t understand what you’re hinting at. I know of no impediments about the game itself that would render it unsuitable to play or ineligible for review. If I wind up not getting to EoE (or even if I do), I hope others will do so.

  1. Fair and insightful as always. Many thanks for the review! I hadn’t played Bigger Than You Think before I read this. It’s very cool. Perhaps I should rename Witch’s Girl ‘Sillier Than You Think’…

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