Mala

Player Rating3.77/8

"Too few ratings to be ranked"
based on 51 ratings since 12/11/2016
played 296 times (finished 57)

Story Difficulty2/8

"walk in the park"

Play Length4/8

"A well spent lunch break"

Maturity Level1/8

"appropriate for all ages"
Stories with this maturity level will not, by design, have any potentially objectionable content. An example of a type story with this rating would be a quiz on mathematics.

When you almost drown in your pearl-diver job, you are saved by a young mermaid named Mala. As you go deeper into an intricate society, you discover a secret about your new friend that could change everything.

Player Comments

I don’t know why I only get inspired to write lengthy or inspiring comments about stories that I don’t like these days. Maybe it’s something in the water. But I have faith that this one isn’t shitty enough to be deleted, so my criticism has some small chance of standing the test of time rather than going down with the ship. (That’s funny, because this is a mermaid story. Good to know I haven’t lost my touch or anything.)


The narrative, for the most part, is okay. I think the description of the experience of diving is pleasant. And, though it might just be because I’m in a teal room, and the way that chilly air passes between my fingers as I type reminds me of the time I tried to grab a catfish out of a bucket back in-...


Okay, nevermind, the problem I have with the first page, and something that pervades a lot of the story, is the amount of buffy-speak going on. There’s a lot of “Kinda” going on. You have a lot of “Slightly”s and “A Little”s. That’s fine if you’re trying to establish a character trait, where someone doesn’t have the words to describe something, but you seem to be an omniscient narrator right now, and you also seem to be being serious, so this kind of talk doesn’t fit the tone. I’m not saying go full purple and make similes all the time, but you should describe it differently.

Don’t say to what extent something is in terms of “A little” or “A lot”. Say something it’s similar to. It’s not “Somewhat warm” it’s “You can feel the coolness of the water slipping past you when you jump in, even through your suit”. It’s not “Until your chest hurts a little” it’s “Until your lungs can no longer expand.” You can feel one of those things without having been there. The other one you can only guess. We can relate to those feelings from memory, but we’d have to have been in your mind to know what nonspecific metrics “A little” and “Somewhat” mean.


Also, don’t put death links on the first page, especially if it’s blatantly suicide, and especially if one seems reasonable. It’s just stupid, don’t.


On the second page, assuming we choose the one ‘right’ choice and don’t die, we learn that our mermaids are different from most mermaids. Now, I’m all good for some graphic descriptions of things, but the human eye doesn’t slowly go up the body of a creature that’s poking them in the face and then suddenly get shocked by every detail of their face. When you get shocked, it’s a lightning bolt. Think of the scariest monster movies you’ve seen. They keep the creature out of the frame, showing you one of the grosser parts and letting your mind fill in the rest. You only get time to notice one scary thing before you jump back. A good jumpscare usually has something shocking that can catch your eye in a split-second. Remember how the bird from FNAF being /yellow/ of all things, was considered a spook factor? Exactly, it’s shocking, it stands out.


Your eyes fluttering open to see a tail of some description, and then quickly looking up to see “OH GOD THOSE ARE TEETH” and then you being shocked, see, that works, because it sounds like shock. Sitting there and looking at every detail of her face doesn’t work. You’re not being shocked by something, you’re being slowly creeped by something at best, but that only works if it’s done progressively over the course of a narrative and various encounters. As is, it’s just a block of exposition establishing that our mermaids are different.


You don’t get the chance to look close when you’re shocked. You’d have made a move first. If you chose to stick around and talk, then you’d see her face. If you saw teeth and jumped, you’d have jumped. And died. That’s another thing I don’t like. Why the hell are you pretending that there’s more than one path if there is only one? That’s just a lie, then. We either die, or get taken to the next page, one offering blatant exposition about a fantasy society you haven’t really given us any reason to be interested in, and the other offering some fancy new mermaid lingo that make her character sound more forced than anything. Dryland I can understand, but ‘Tail-length’ and ‘Floating-rock’ are just fucking unwieldly to say. Languages develop because they’re an easy way to portray ideas. They may measure things with the average length of their tails, but people used to measure things with the length of their middle fingers to the ends of their elbows. That unit was not called a ‘Middle-finger-to-the-end-of-the-elbow-length”, it was called a “Cubit”. Note the SUBTLE DIFFERENCES. When a Native American measures how many hand-lengths high the sun is to tell what time it is, they say “the sun is 2 HANDS high.” Not “Hand-Lengths”.


And FLOATING-ROCK. Don’t even get be fucking started on that. That’s quite the worst word for a boat I’ve ever seen. Mermaids are presumably a thing that have been around for a very long time. They’ve presumably seen and touched sunken boats before, they should know what they’re made of isn’t rocks. Boats, for one thing, look nothing like rocks. Hell, they’ve probably found driftwood and wooden ships before and found out they rot away, much unlike rocks. They look more like shells than anything, and that’s something that a mermaid should be well fucking acquainted with. Hell, Humans can’t live sustainably in water without their ‘shells’, much like conches and crabs, so it’d make a helluva lot more sense for a Mermaid to think that a boat is a ‘human shell’ and skip the “floating” part altogether. Take into account the things they’ve probably seen and experienced when you’re trying to worldbuild like this, else your mermaids will look forced and naive to a degree that doesn’t suit their actual intelligence.


Also, there’s some shit about a Goddess I glanced through on the other page, but it was so blatantly expository that I figured it wouldn’t be important, since it only led to the same path anyway.


The next page says we’re brought back to the ship, and our boss, who, from her immediate response, seems to be on the boat with us, doesn’t notice us getting dragged back to the boat by a giant fishgirl. Now, there’d be nothing wrong with this if it were established that she swam under us, or we were underwater or something, but this was never established. She just grabs our arm, we get on the boat, and it’s done, and the boss somehow doesn’t notice.


We go to sleep wet and get another three choices. Based on previous patterns, I’ll assume that there’s only really one real choice, and click on the first and last one, because researching this mermaid who hands out enough ham-fisted exposition on her own will only be a waste of time. Wasn’t really interested in it anyway.


I think the other comments have already explained how stupid the lack of end-game links are, so I’ll spare us both the trouble, but do note that being trapped in this incessant hellhole is part of the reason I’m writing this 20-paragraph grievance letter. You’d have gotten a slightly nicer, easier-to-read review if I could have the free point and be done with it. If we’ve made a “Wrong” decision, just give us a link back to the page where we first made the decision, don’t make us go back to the first page every time. Then people are only going to use the “Go back” button. PROTIP: If the path you’re writing is a path you don’t want to write, then don’t add that path. Who cares if all that means is this is just going to be a really long short story? You’d get better reviews on Wattpad anyway. EDIT: Nevermind, turns out there is branching, we just had to wait for it.


Alright, the rest of the story is fairly decent, but again, we get a lot of exposition and mermaid society dumped on top of us, again, ham-fistedly. We’re told everything, never shown. I lost interest and started skimming after Oracles were sort of established and suddenly there’s rules for them.


It would be better if you didn’t pretend to have choices for the first few pages, rather, your Merrow encounter was either a distant memory or part of a longer intro, it would be better if you didn’t just tell us everything about mermaids, but instead established this by showing us what they do and what their society is built on. Telling us about a supernatural culture rather than showing people living it and reacting to it is what made Vampires boring over the years. It’s why people instinctively groan with hatred when the concept of “Vampire Clans” is introduced, when it should essentially be awesome just from the sound of it. A textbook explanation is never fun, even when it’s about something interesting, that’s why people hate History Class but love Game of Thrones. It would also be better if you had actual endgame links.


3/8. Hopefully stays published, I want the historians to think I was a constructive critic.
-- ISentinelPenguinI on 12/13/2016 2:43:55 PM
For a story from someone with 'wolfgirl' in their name who just joined today, this was far better than I expected. You've put a lot of detail into world building and such, I enjoyed this.

I kind of got the sense it may have been a pre-written story turned into a CYOA....if I'm wrong and you wrote it all today I'm impressed, but I do feel like this could have used more choices. It's fairly linear right up until the ending choice.

Towards that last page things got a sloppy, I started noticing more typos, so you might want to give this a more thorough proofread. It felt a little rushed toward the end in general, actually. The whole Oracle thing came out of nowhere and suddenly you're making a decision involving life and death based on some ancient tradition/divine magic your character knows absolutely nothing about.

Also, this:

As you swim towards it, you turn to Mala, and ask, “What is the Goddess?” She turns to look at you, confusion in her eyes. “I - sorry, just - you keep swearing by her, and thanking her. Who is she?”

There hadn't been a single other mention of the 'Goddess' from Mala, or anyone else in the entire story at that point. Seeing how a major part of the ending hinges on this being, feels like you could have used a couple of sections introducing this part of the mermaid society.

Anyway, like I said, the writing was definitely above average, and I look forward to more stories from you.
-- mizal on 12/11/2016 10:31:49 PM
not so good
-- PrincessStarlight on 4/30/2018 9:58:23 AM
The writing's pretty decent, but please put in some "end game and leave comments" links. No need to force readers to restart.
Also, please do something about that awful light blue text color. Not that I have anything against the color; it's just really difficult to read. There's no need to use a color other than black, unless you intend to emphasize a specific word/ phrase.
-- crazygurl on 6/6/2017 11:13:46 PM
It was too short and linear, I would've liked to see more branches
-- Chickdove on 4/5/2017 10:59:41 PM
I enjoyed the story but the end was confusing. Was that the end goal?
-- Quorrah on 1/15/2017 11:34:20 PM
Now that I've clicked around a little more, couple things I'd advise for future stories is 1.) Don't make annoyed comments at the reader if they pick an option you don't like, it's immersion breaking and a little petty.

Also, 2.) Don't force them to loop back to the beginning if they get an unoptimal ending. This is a big one. In a longer story the lack of End Game links would be enraging.
-- mizal on 12/11/2016 10:42:05 PM
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