Stanley and a Statue

Player Rating?/8

"Too few ratings to be ranked"
based on ratings since 10/30/2020
played 215 times (finished 19)

Story Difficulty5/8

"run through the jungle"

Play Length5/8

"Not going to lose any sleep"

Maturity Level5/8

"aren't you a little too old to be trick or treating"
Some material may be inappropriate for persons under age 13. If this were a movie, it would probably be PG-13.

A pretty short story, just in time for Mara's 2020 Halloween Jam. Involves murder, non-graphic violence and mild profanity. This is the first story I've written since grade school, over a decade ago, my only completed story, and my first attempt with CYOA. I found it to be a very useful exercise. There are two main forks here, and the first one is choice-poor, while I was trying to figure out how to spin a story. Both are pretty short in practice.

I hope you find this mildly entertaining. Criticisms I can apply to other works are highly appreciated.

Player Comments

All in all I had a good time with this story and enjoyed the diverse branches. The setting has a nice grit to it that makes this fun though some bits could use some more polish.

The story is well written. I did not notice any grammatical or typographical mistakes, the style makes for pleasant smooth read, and sentences are well crafted.

The possible twists and turns of the story, depending on your choices, are a bit hit and miss, and differ both in length and entertainment value. Some of the longer branches are very nice and worth exploring very nice and well worth exploring.

While there are a bunch of interesting locations, they are not described in much detail and for me this made it hard to really connect with them. I would have loved to get a better picture of the bunker for example.

Almost the same holds for the characters: they do in fact lack character. Everybody remains pretty generic. Some more effort in introducing the different characters would have done wonders for this story. That almost everybody seems to have a four letter name doesn't help very much either. Kess and Greg have wonderful potential, and to a certain extent my mind filled the gaps, but it would have been fantastic to know more.

The first major choice actually rubbed me a bit wrong, it came out of nowhere and I did not know what I was doing or how important it would be. This could have been foreshadowed a bit.

Another part that was less-than-smooth was the possession part, which clashes with the second-person narration. Me, the one who was making the decisions in the beginning, was still making decisions after it happened. I wonder if it had worked, if one that path one really to take the back seat and only interacted via an internal monologue.

All in all I did have a very good time with this story. I would actually love to play a longer story in the same setting with a bit more background and characterization.
-- Northwind on 11/28/2020 4:22:19 PM with a score of 0
The concept of this story is interesting, but I wish it had been done without the POV switching. The horror of being able to hear and see what is happening to your body, but unable to control any of it while being possessed would have been an interesting twist. Or to start the story off as the spirit and actively worm your way into control and then fight to maintain it would have been good as well. Another tactic would have been a double consciousness of the player being possessed and the spirit working for control. Experiencing both at once would have fantastic. Instead we start off as Stanley, then suddenly we're a spirit controlling Stanley, then we're Stanley again. The POV switches are jarring in a bad way.

That being said, the story itself is interesting, the writing is good, and there are multiple paths and endings. I give it a solid 4/8. My advise would be to work on finding your narrative style, I can see it here but it just isn't shining yet. Also try to work on paths that are equally important and not just adding them for the sake of making the story a CYOA. I can very distinctly see the difference between the path and ending you wanted to write and the others that you threw in for the sake of it being a CYOA. If you plan out your story well and do a good plot outline, you can achieve multiple paths that are all equally enjoyable to write and as a result they will also be equally enjoyable to read.

I look forward to reading more from you.
-- simplesabley on 11/16/2020 3:05:31 PM with a score of 0
First, the review.

I liked it. Worth reading. Spoilers ahead.

The knight path was shorter, and weaker. Being shorter doesn't have to be bad, so the question is why did I like the other path more?

My guess is because the knight path had less happen, and the endings left me with more questions than answers.

Learning about the world was interesting, but not engrossing. I feel the ideas presented by the exposition didn't really develop into anything, so it ends up feeling like just some trivia. Granted, I'm a bit tired, so I might not have thought about it enough.

Anyway, you also had it split into: a successful walk, where the knight moves the stones, and you had the one with the bear and owl where he fails. I feel if there had been more trials on the walk path it would have been more engaging.

To relate this to the ghoul path, one branch has you: snap a neck, stop a possession, agree to a deal, scare off some would-be-witches, doom a soul to the otherside, decide whether to die or doom yet another soul (plus other choices). I'll add that I liked the confrontation with the witches.

Anyway, you wouldn't need something that large on the knight path (as it would make it longer, which would take more time to write, etc) but just something small to add some tension as something more needs to be overcome or resolved before the main goal is accomplished (or failed).

I'll also quickly mention the classic of: try to do something: fail, try again: fail again (oh no!), and then succeed on the third try.

Now, success and failure can be a lot more interesting in CYOA because different choices have different outcomes, but I wanted to mention this because structure things in this vein might be helpful to look into, as they can help with tightening up weaker areas without having to necessarily write a lot more.

However, obviously, there are many ways to handle the structure for stories, so I'm more talking about using it as a general guideline, if you might need them.

Just being aware of things often used can be helpful anyway, even if you don't try to specifically work by them.

Anyhow, I look forward to whatever you work on next.
-- Zake on 11/15/2020 7:03:03 PM with a score of 0
As always with reviews, beware of spoilers.

I felt there was a distinct difference in both quality and tone between the first and second paths. As I've read and annotated the first path... first, I'll split up the review and start with the former.

My biggest remark from the start would be the size of paragraphs. As the monitor is a lot more strenuous to read on compared to a book, or even an e-reader, I suggest breaking the bigger sections into smaller and more eye-pleasing paragraphs. The same with dialogue, where the conversation is broken up so that each new speaker is on a new line.

There is a lot of potential in the vivid detail you paint the surroundings, from the wads of shoulder-height grass, to the cold and clear sky, to the old and laddered man fighting against the moss on his roof. However, especially with the paragraphs this large, the narration feels unfocused and disconnected, as if each sentence is another nugget in the summation of details just now coming into focus of your mind's eye.

From a story perspective, the possession is too sudden and early for it to have an impact. With myself being barely acquainted and settled in with Stanley, the sudden switch to a different 'you' didn't bother me at all, and I quickly adjusted to the new inhabitant with a more interesting story to be told. Giving the reader more time to 'merge' with Stanley themselves could serve as a second struggle and key undertone throughout this horror story above the current few mentions that felt more like a pesty interruption.

Concluding on the struggle and the horror aspect, this path felt rather like an involuntary nightly stroll than a horror piece, the story's heavy emphasis being in describing the nature you trek in.

This disappointing first path is contrasted by the much better written second path. Firstly, I liked the weight the permanence of this possession gave the story, especially compared to the knight's quest to right a few stones in the woods. I think you could have expanded on this, further detailed the little struggle Stanley put up, perhaps told the story from his perspective rather than the ghost's to further hammer in the powerless walk to his own doom, but at least gave Stanley more emotion under the ghost's oppression.

Anyway, I felt the horror aspect here was well crafted, especially the part with the blunt rod being pushed into the lung, and the ensuing ending was very well written and my personal favorite.

I also enjoyed the branching here more than on the previous path. Deciding whether to trust another ghost is much more compelling than choosing which trail to take. I think it had to do with the clear goal the ghost had, every subbranch giving you another way to reach eternal life.

Here there was also a lot more lore to be found. I liked the twist that the more superstitious you were, the more resistant you were to possessions, rather than the other way around. There were also all kinds of little hints that the supernatural world wasn't nearly as flat and dead as we were earlier led to believe. But as much of hints we were shown, there was far too little explained to fill our curiosity fully.

Overall, I enjoyed the second path, with the first one feeling more like an unnecessary appendage. There's a lot to improve, but I feel there's a real gem hiding underneath it all if you'll give this story another look-through.
-- enterpride on 11/10/2020 8:40:34 PM with a score of 0
Just a nice short little storygame with classic branching. Nothing special, but it wasn't bad at all. 5/8
-- Tim36D on 11/7/2020 12:50:18 PM with a score of 0
This storygame is by no means bad. It's not great, either, but it is a fine first attempt at a branching story.

From a technical perspective, I could find nothing wrong with the writing. If anything, there were a few paragraphs here and there that could be broken up. Otherwise, spelling and grammar were competent.

Story-wise, though, I felt like I was just wandering aimlessly through the branches. The POV characters do seem to have some internal motivation -- goals they want to achieve -- but that isn't disclosed to the reader, probably to maintain an air of mystery. The problem, though, is that I'm the one making the choices, and so I need more to work with. If the story began with a better hook, it would make the choices more engaging.

As for the branching, it's not that there's not enough, but that some of the "quick death" endings were way too quick and random. This aspect reminded me of the old Edward Packard and R. A. Montgomery books: choices just for the sake of choices, pointless endings because the choice hadn't served a story purpose.

But on the bright side: with this first story now under your belt, your storytelling abilities can only improve with experience!
-- Bill_Ingersoll on 11/3/2020 7:07:09 PM with a score of 0
It's clear Anthony has experience writing (and not because the title page explicitly says so). Grammar-wise, everything's in order. Characters are realistic enough to believability. My main area of criticism lies with the story itself. There were pages, notably so, that didn't seem to advance the plot much and a good deal of descriptions that slowed down the overall pace. That said, I would read another story by the author, one that I'm sure would fit into the storygame format better.
-- ninjapitka on 11/1/2020 12:08:22 PM with a score of 0
This was a good story. I thought the prose was a little clunky here and there with the use of a bit too many adjectives, but that's not a major problem. It might have also been a nice idea to have some way of playing as the human instead, and have an option to expel the ghost possessing him. I however really appreciated giving the option of having a moral choice to get an ending. 6/8
-- fluttershypegasus on 10/30/2020 7:05:00 PM with a score of 0
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