Soul Thief

a Love & Dating by MadHattersDaughter

Commended by mizal on 4/19/2020 4:43:24 PM

Player Rating6.62/8

"#139 overall, #4 for 2020"
based on 50 ratings since 05/31/2020
played 1,534 times (finished 25)

Story Difficulty1/8

"no possible way to lose"

Play Length5/8

"Not going to lose any sleep"

Maturity Level3/8

"must be at least this tall to play"
Contains content that may not be suitable for persons under age 10. If this were a movie, it would probably be between G and PG.

The Gods discover a soul thief among humans.

A story about an ethereal romance and an otherworldly mystery.

intro

Entrant and winner of EndMaster's IS "Resurrection" Contest!

Player Comments

This was highly touching and delightful.
When I first clicked into this storygame, I took this as a random story I saw on the homepage. You already surprised me with the illustration of a rabbit. I didn't even pay much attention to the fact that this was a contest winner.
I loved how every character was created with their own personality and feelings, as if they were real. You successfully did 'show, not tell' and all of them had their own style of talking and actions.
My favourite character was Athena. Fun, troublesome, observing. I was bummed when she 'killed' Bunni's mother, and from this I can see that gods aren't necessarily perfect. They have a lot to learn, just like humans. Which leads to the second point, Edol. Edol being the 'Soul Theif' really surprised me. Edol is the antagonist, I suppose, so of course at first I didn't like him. He's arrogant and jealous. What makes him interesting is he hid his feelings towards Irene, but Oberon knows.
I was really sad when Irene died, just because of Edol's jealousy. Irene was so sweet and loving. The scene of Irene and Oberon saying goodbye really melted my heart. Every character was explained in great detail and I skipped the concept art so the characters would stay the same, imagined look in my brain.
The settings, each god's domain and each parts of the Earth was described so well that I could imagine them in my head, as if I was there. The fountain, vines, white roses... I got really absorbed!
I'm really satisfied with the grammatical accuracy and the beautiful vocabulary. There were no text slangs and everything was written in complete sentences.
This must have taken an awful lot of work! I really appreciate all the clear effort put into this storygame. 8 marks!
-- StoryTurtle on 1/4/2021 12:51:29 AM with a score of 0
This is certainly a vividly imagined story, part myth-creation and part love story, populated with characters who (sometimes) defy the rigidity of their roles.

Technically, this isn't a storygame, but rather a narrative in which the reader chooses which page to read. The beginning and end is the same no matter what happens. The experience is somewhat having a 50-page story written on loose-leaf paper, when then get scattered into the wind. Five different people go chasing after them, and each walks away with five different versions of the story, the pages not necessarily in order.

At least, this is my impression. I've read through "Soul Thief" twice, with the second read almost completely different than the first (other the common beginning and ending pages, and one or two scenes in between). The effect is that I felt sort of like a butterfly flitting around a park, eavesdropping on various conversations without ever hearing one in its entirety. This leaves little gaps here and there throughout the story that made me want to come back and give it another try.

But at the same time, it is very easy to miss key scenes, including character introductions in which attributes and motivations are revealed. These characters may then appear later, seemingly out of nowhere, and thus the sense that I'm only reading a fifth of the overall story..

Normally, I'd find it difficult to read a story about gods, since gods are by definition two-dimensional characters, at best. For instance, a God of War is inevitably god-like, the Goddess of Love is inevitably beautiful; there is nothing new to reveal about them, just the little morality play about how love can defeat war, or whatever. Long ago, people created myths as a way of explaining the human condition; stories that are simply about the gods are difficult for me to relate to.

In this case, we do have Oberon, an otherwise stereotypical god of death (up to and including the required skeletal frame, black robe, and soul-harvesting scythe) who falls head-over-heels for the goddess of life; one attends every human birth, and the other presides over every human death. The story is very engaging when these two are the focus; I tended to lose interest when the focus wandered.

The issue of "focus" is perhaps my biggest complaint about "Soul Thief," as the narrative voice really doesn't have a perspective. It is omniscient to a fault, told in a long series of mostly one-line paragraphs in which a character speaks, acts, and/or reveals a tidbit of their state of mind (often all three at once). Any one page may have four or more characters involved, each one given the identical amount of attention, and often none emerging as the real star of any given scene. This meant I had to keep track personally of who had a grudge with who -- or just as important, who begat who. And since, as I mentioned previously, these character relationships may not be revealed on any single read-through, I sometimes felt like I was jumping into a grudge match before getting a firm grasp of who the players were.

But what a story, though! When these gods throw punches, entire galaxies and universes are spun away with the impacts (making me wonder about the beings who populate those galaxies and universes, wondering like the rest of us why they were created and what their purpose is). When they are happy, fields grow fertile on Earth. And when the human souls go missing... something about the dead wandering aimlessly? The metaphysical mechanics left me with some questions.

This is undoubtedly a vividly imagined story, and one worth reading at least twice, making a point of finding the pages missed the first time around.
-- Bill_Ingersoll on 5/12/2020 6:15:58 PM with a score of 0
Oh man. I hope I'm wrong, but I feel like this is going to forever be one of the most criminally underread/underrated stories on the site. Our edgelord and ace population avoids the L&D category and the weebs looking for their twu waifu aren't going to have the capacity to appreciate this.

The pantheon you've created here is just lovely, I have always been really fascinated by settings like this, just all types of 'little g gods and their rules and disputes' plots. Some of the names are of course familiar from elsewhere so there may be a tiny bit of confusion there for new readers at first, but all the gods and their appearance, personalities, and roles are so well defined that shouldn't last for long.

The writing is for a lot of this very simple and straightforward, there are so many sentences like 'Oberon thought this. Athena did that.' but it becomes almost rhythmic after awhile and in a weird way works to give it weight. Statements are very decisive and direct, but at the same time the whole thing is colorful and full of imagery.

The characters have all these human qualities like, well, a certain someone being a jealous nice guy incel instead of ancient and wise like I'd have expected, but you don't ever forget they're also wonderfully inhuman too. From endless little visual details like Irene's hair always floating around her like the petals of a rose and flowers blooming as she walks, to all of them flying halfway across the galaxy and influencing entire planets like its nothing, or a sad goddess going off to sit on a faraway star and be alone for awhile.

Oberon's dialogue all lacking quotation marks was effective too, it's hard to explain how it changed the inflection in my mind, but it was just sort of this sense of him uttering things from the darkness, which fit. Also, he was way more fun and sweet than the god of death had any right to be, but obviously Irene brought out a lot of that in him.

The structure of the story, while I feel like it might potentially bug purists for being (ultimately) somewhat linear, reinforces the magical immortal nature of everyone with the way it floats around through time and perspective. You may eventually wind up in the same place, but you can miss a lot along the way if you don't take the time to go back and try other links.

The Rebirth theme for the contest was strong in this one too of course, it was a creative take on it and the win was well deserved.

It's a beautiful story, I hope more people discover it and take the time to read it.
-- mizal on 4/30/2020 4:33:42 PM with a score of 0
I really struggled to rate this. On the one hand, the writing is clear and creative. The world and characters are rich and vital. As well, I applaud experimentation; today's edge is tomorrow's bedrock.

On the other, I felt adrift in the narrative. As others have pointed out in various ways, this isn't a game so much as a wibbley-wobbley blob of interrelated vignettes. This isn't bad, per se (see above re experimentation) but it was bad FOR ME. To be captivated by such an experience, I do need to be present in some way and I felt absent from the story.

It's important to be clear, this isn't a comment on the story/game as story/game/art. Preference plays a huge part in whether a game will land for any particular player. I'm just stating how I experienced it.

I wonder at the possibility of maintaining the general content as it is but writing in an omnipresent narrator/observer that is the player. They could be an even "higher" god who observes the gods, in the same way that the gods observe humans, providing the player with their inner observations of the goings on. Some "choice" could be threaded in throughout; not only which moment to observe next (the player god expressing their interest) but in the player god being able to exert some small influence.

For example, the scene with Athena observing the two men fighting could have an alternate route (this won't necessarily affect the overarching story) where the player god could push Athena in one direction or another, potentially based on previous interactions (some kind of player god to god relationship). Perhaps the game could end the same way, narratively, each time but there could be some kind of good/bad love/disconnection rating based on the player god's interference.

I applaud your efforts!
-- sarashinai on 12/29/2020 8:29:31 AM with a score of 0
I think it was really smart the way you put it together. It was emotional and deliberate. Well done.
-- anneisin on 12/11/2020 9:37:52 PM with a score of 0
I liked it-- though i think the gods should have been protrayed as less human. They should be more viseral. Thats just a personal opinion though. It was very good writing, keep it up my friend. It reminds me a little of the Inhertitance trilogy. Have a good day. Call someone you love today. Or better yet, talk to them in person.
-- Someone on 11/25/2020 12:14:05 AM with a score of 0
Like all of MHDs stories, this one is a doozy. Follow the stories of the gods, a bunny, and a little girl in this story of rebirth. Each read through won't change the story. You'll just find more pieces of it. It's a worthwhile read and I highly recommend it.
-- DerPrussen on 5/24/2020 12:37:47 PM with a score of 0
(SPOILERS AHOY)

Straight off the bat, being an adrenaline junkie and adventure-lover, this story was far from what I was expecting.
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It was better than what I was expecting. The gods we are introduced to are varied and interesting, multi-dimensional and almost human. They feel pain that is (kinda) relatable and experience joy in a similar way to us. They have aspirations and feelings. They love and hate. They are unreliable and unpredictable.

Another high point for me was the style of the story itself. I love the fact that the story follows a non-linear format as the story deals with beings above human comprehension. It's also a welcome break from the typical cause-and-effect type of storygame, and yeah, it does kinda rob you of control of the story. But why would you, a lowly mortal (just kidding, don't sue me, please), expect to have control over the actions of the gods? I also commend the idea to not include Oberon's speech in quotation marks as it adds to the gods' mystery and incomprehensibility. It's the little things that make a good story and great story.

The love between Irene and Oberon is beautiful and eye-watering. Their story is not rushed and is given enough attention that it feels just like human courtship (a.k.a. dating). Edol's jealousy towards Oberon is another thing that helps the relatability of the story, showing that the gods aren't too far above the ways of humans.

As far as negatives go... I couldn't find any. I played through a third time just to find issues in the story (I am a terrible human, I know) but I couldn't find anything. Nothing's perfect, but this is the closest I have seen since I joined the site.

THE VERDICT? It... depends. If you are a typical action meathead, you may not like this book. If you are a frequenter of romance novels, this book is perfect for you. This story subverted my expectations and it did indeed bring me enlightenment.

8/8
-- Ytterbius on 5/22/2020 8:06:02 PM with a score of 0
Wow. This was absolutely stunning. The work that was put into this is astonishing and rare these days. I wanted to see every slide, every word, every possible route. You have some serious talent as an author and I would definitely recommend this to others. Lots of detail, lots of action, lots of romance, a good plot, everything I could've asked for. Phenomenal job, truly.
-- Kiara the wanderer on 5/13/2020 3:27:44 AM with a score of 0
I want to praise this entire story, much like everyone else has, but I want to instead single out the very ending. It came out of nowhere- in a good way. It somehow made the story ten times better because it was a verbal story being passed on from one generation to another. While the older generation stopped believing in the tales and thus gave it to children who will take the stories into their hearts and care for them is so sweet and real that it brought this story home. I love how the child really felt for these characters and clearly got a meaning out of the story, just like us readers did, and couldn't sleep but rather had to search for parts of it in the real world. Bravo.
-- TrueParanormal on 5/8/2020 9:49:52 AM with a score of 0
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