Land of the Setting Sun

Player Rating?/8

"Too few ratings to be ranked"
based on 9 ratings since 11/19/2019
played 36 times (finished 4)

Story Difficulty6/8

"wandering through the desert"

Play Length5/8

"Not going to lose any sleep"

Maturity Level6/8

"I'll need to see some identification"
Some material may be inappropriate for persons under age 16. If this were a movie, it would probably between PG-13 and R.

My entry for Gower's Contest: Battle in the Ruins of a Dead Civilization

Explore the not-so-uninhabited ruins of Japan, after it had been completely annihilated in World War Two.  Fifty years later, the travel ban is lifted, and James and his crew may be the first people to get a peek into this relic of a country.  However, expect the unexpected, for James and his crew are not the only residents of the Land of the Setting Sun!

Hope y'all enjoy it!  Please leave a comment, any feedback would be much appreciated!

V.2 - 183% less POV and tense errors, partly in thanks to the help of Shadowdrake27 and Mizal.  Thank you both!

Player Comments

This was an interesting premise for a storygame -- an alt-history present in which all of Japan was nuked into obliteration at the end of WWII, not just Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But I struggled to maintain interest because the story took far too long to build interest, and too much of the writing failed the basic tenet of "show, don't tell."

I did like that the characters were distinctly drawn, and that there were some interesting details plugged in here and there to help me remember who was who, and to experience a little of the flavor of some of the exotic locales mentioned.

However, the story began in a dull place -- reading an email -- and then proceeded to describe at length the logistics of getting to Japan: meeting your "team" at the airport, going through Chinese customs, picking which boat to take. The act of making landfall in the ruins of Japan doesn't happen until late in the story, by which time I've already made up my mind about what I think about the story in general.

Another issue with the set-up is that there are no stakes involved. The original purpose for going to Japan is to take pictures, which is supposedly interesting because no one has been allowed to go there since the war. The mystery of what you find when you arrive is introduced far too late.

And while the characters are given distinctive traits, very few of them have a clear tie to the story -- and this comment is especially directed to the "team" that assembles at St. Louis. Dr. Blythe organizes the expedition, but plays less and less of a role as the story progresses. The Mongolian chick is inserted as an obvious potential love interest. And Aubrey? He is described as a "hit man," because obviously photography expeditions are run like mafia jobs. If these people think Japan has been uninhabited since the 1940s, why bring any muscle at all?

The only characters with a clear and undisputed need to be on this expedition are the two Japanese gentlemen, because of their obvious desire to see their ancestral home. But herein lies a lost opportunity: in this alternate timeline where all of Japan has been fried, what is the story of those Japanese who survived? Where were they in 1945, and what have they and their families been up to since that time?

A good example of what I'm talking about can be found in this passage:

"It became easier to speak to him, and we talked for a while, about our homes, and about our dreams. He’d been attached to the hip with Itaki for years, helping him through depression and the loss of his heritage. Ogasawara was always a traveler, with no home to speak of, and was born after the bombs dropped. Itaki, however, was a young child when it occurred, stranded in China as his home country faced annihilation. Someone had decided Itaki would not pay for his country’s mistakes, but Itaki felt differently."

So there is a lot of good information in there, but it's "told" as an info-dump of exposition, not "shown" as a natural bit of dialogue between the characters, in which Ogasawara and Itaki tell their stories in their own voice. Unfortunately, too much of the story is told as exposition, making me feel removed at arm's length from the story.

As for the main character, I should point out that being a photographer for a newspaper is hardly an adventurous profession anymore. (How many people on this site even read newspapers?) And getting "footage" is a reference to movie making, not still photography.

But there was a fatal flaw when in order to keep the story going, I had to make the choice to sacrifice some nameless sailor to the creature just to save my own skin. At that juncture I was deducting points from my planned rating, and I skimmed through the remaining pages, because I really didn't give a rat's ass as to what happened after that point. I had lost all sympathy for the protagonist.

I realize that this is a boatload of criticism, and so I feel the need to qualify all of this with the statement that I sense potential in the writing, and Chef's interest in storytelling is apparent. I do look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

-- Bill_Ingersoll on 12/1/2019 10:49:36 PM with a score of 0
A very interesting game! Sort of a historical fiction combined with a present day (ish) adventure that takes place after an altered history. I really enjoyed the setup and the game; I did have some issues with it though. Spoilers start now so read the game first.

First of all, the characters were all well done and very memorable. I related to each one, and was sad when anyone died. I feel like this is really important in this type of story—well done! The main character was very well done and relatable as well. I also loved how much sense the choices made in terms of why YOU were the one making it. Usually they small group was split evenly, and you were the “deciding vote” this made the story and choices seem way more real!

The game had two main branches that greatly changed the outcome and events. This was good, but left me wondering if the two were reared at all. Some elements were common among the two, but there was an entire creepy faction that disappeared in one. There was also not very many answers in one—sort of like a no matter what you do you are dead scenario. I liked the story heading with the newer ship better. If the other branch was the only one, I would be frustrated with every ending.

The game was very harrowing! My favorite part of the whole story was the one where you don’t make the flight. In that version another reporter goes to japan, and seeing his picture the main character simply says he is glad the didn’t go. That made me so nervous to take the other path, it was great! Everything was pretty creepy, and no two deaths were exactly alike. I believe the “fail paths” were more well done than most of the “full ending” ones. This is only because most felt like a quick death ending despite being the farthest path you could take.

None the less, it was a very good horror that kept you in the dark while having the choices all make sense. The lack of info on anything in the endings may even add to the creepy effect of the story, But I like to have answers. To me it felt like even the author didn’t know why everything was happening, so he just killed everyone off before they got an explanation. Again, to someone who likes the horror genre this is probably a good thing.

The branch that I liked (with the strange doomsday settlers) felt like a more complete story with a plot. You either were killed by the faction, or beat them. When you beat them you got some limited answers, ended the threat, and lived to tell the tale. It felt more complete to me. That may have been the point though—to only have one “full” ending. This ending was scary, and get like a well thought out phycological thriller.

So that is my opinion on the story. Here is some technical/ writing things:

-General- minor grammar/spelling errors (example “smalling” should be “slamming” on pg question the scavengers) there were a lot of these misspellings.

- General- “Of course” was used a lot, sometimes feeling repetitive.

-Pg flying with chickens- tense change in 1st paragraph

-pg Miyazaki- you call “Qara” “Mara” on this page

-General -very description language, but sometimes it was over done. If you can take out words and quicken the pace during action scenes do it! They don’t have to run “ridiculously fast” in combat. You can just say a stronger verb like “charge” and let the reader get the impression. Example on page lost when the group gets a “ridiculous head start” I would go with either just a head start, or that they were hard to see, or just jump to “they were difficult to follow in the rain”.
-- Shadowdrake27 on 11/11/2019 12:06:28 PM with a score of 0
I enjoyed this story very much, primarily because I connected very well with the characters in it.
-- TheCanary on 11/7/2019 8:51:23 PM with a score of 0
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