Twin Arrows

a Everything Else by ninjapitka

Commended by mizal on 8/24/2019 8:39:09 PM

Player Rating6.27/8

"Too few ratings to be ranked"
based on 18 ratings since 08/28/2019
played 184 times (finished 12)

Story Difficulty6/8

"wandering through the desert"

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.

1852 - The Territory of New Mexico

The hunt has taken me to to the outer edges of civilization. Out here, lawlessness abides. There are no godly folk. Only heathen. The inner demon in me can relate to the call of anarchy. No rules, being bound by nothing; it sounds like freedom. In the end, that "freedom" is simply the self-indulgent, care-free living that is a poison upon humanity. If killing a man will save society from the infection of lawlessness, then I will gladly do what is necessary.

You eye the journal at your lap. The freshly written ink expands and bleeds to the perfect width of the quill. Satisfied that it won't smear, you shut the book and toss it aside. The meager fire at your feet does little to warm your body, but its original use was already completed. The frail, thin-boned squirrel did little to satisfy your hunger. Still, it would keep you alive until the next meal. You pull the leather waterskin from your pack to gauge how much longer it would last. With a gentle shake, you estimate it'll last a couple more days with strict rationing.

The road is lonely. In a former life, you dreamed about wandering the world without any responsibility or burdens. The reality of the road's harsh living conditions were nothing like the trigger-happy romanticized versions of the lawless west. Here there are no home-cooked meals, no warm body to lie next to yours. It's only you and the necessary task. Someone had to die.

You gaze up at the night sky. It seemed foreign at first. Without city lights to disorient the constellations, it looked like an entirely new sky. If you traveled at a good pace, you'd reach Canyon Diablo by midday. You pull the bone-carved pipe from your pack and light a match against the sole of your foot. You lie down on your bedroll, breathe in the relaxing tobacco, and drift off to sleep...

Author's Note:

The Wild West is a dangerous place. Be sure to make good use of that "back" button. I've hidden three achievements throughout the story. Yes, your total score will show if you've discovered them or not. The highest score possible is an 8/8.


Point Breakdown:
Achievements: 1 point each
Epilogue: 5 points

Entry for mizal's Lone Hero contest.

8/28/19 Update: Fixed the symbols appearing in the description

Player Comments

So this was one of those stories that manages to amaze me with both its quality and entertainment value. Added to that the fact that you were on a deadline, and I really am floored.

So this story was in many ways, your good old fashioned western. You're a tough as nails bounty hunter who teams up with a pretty girl whose both tough and kind to take down the big bad. There's saloons (well, a saloon), busty barmaids (well, a busty barmaid), Indians (well, an Indian), blackjack, bar brawls, shootouts, and all that western goodness. Oh, and an evil spirit that possesses people and turns them into zombie...things. So let's get into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Ugh, sorry. Bad joke. And it's more like the good, better, and maybe needs a little touching up.

So first of all the writing. The writing was very good in this story. The locations and people were all described in beautiful detail, the dialogue was fascinating, and the characters all felt unique. I really have no complaints about it. Oh and the pictures were a very nice touch too. It's a little addition that really gives the story some extra flare. So thanks for adding those in.

Now the characters were also rather fascinating. You managed to give characters a good amount of personality as well as some great nicknames. Packin' Johnny is a personal favorite of mine. I kind of felt that Isabelle was a bit, nonchalant, I guess about her sister not being in the hideout after the tunnel collapse. I was thinking that maybe she would keep looking for her but instead she and our character become a bounty hunting duo and fall in love. I mean, I can always just pretend she kept looking I guess but I just feel like her story was never really resolved. The epilogue was also a fun ending that managed to give some closure for our hero. It kind of reminds me of the end of a certain western video game. A last stand as our son rides off to be the hero of his own story. It was good stuff.

Now, I really don't have many complaints with the story. I did feel like there were quite a few options that lead to an immediate game over, but that could just be me. My other minor nitpick was there was some historical inaccuracies throughout. Most were minor issues. Pretty much just nerd stuff that most readers probably wouldn't think twice about. But I just wanted to point them out.

So all in all this was a very good story. And I also think this was a very good "lone hero" story. Yeah, you had Isabella, but in my opinion she was more of someone who tagged along. Our hero did the fighting, and most of the tracking. Isabella was a partner of convenience not necessity. And hey, even The Man With No Name partnered up when it was convenient. We were a bounty hunter who strolled into town with no name, hunting a mark and freeing a western town from an outlaw's tyranny. I'd say that's pretty "lone hero" behavior.

So great work ninjapitka. This was a great story.
-- TurnipBandit on 8/20/2019 6:04:10 PM with a score of 5
All right, I admit this was a fun and engaging storygame--well written and well-conceived. It began as a standard-issue western, with all of the familiar tropes... but then if you stick around long enough, stuff happens.

But I will say I had reservations going into this story before I even clicked the "Play Twin Arrows" button. Just reading the description of the story, I was thrown by (1) the weird formatting of certain commonly-used punctuation marks, and (2) the reference to someone using a ballpoint pen in 1852. Yeah, item #1 is a nerdy thing to get bothered by, but #2? Obvious anachronisms aren't a good sign.

I'm glad I dove into the story anyway. The beginning of this story is as familiar as a John Ford flick: the whiskey, the card playing, the man with a price on his head. All of this was handled well, including the opportunity to chat with the buxom bartender (and the potential to end the story prematurely).

Then, after a key sequence, the story splits. If you were to draw out the structure of this storygame, it would basically be a big Y, with each branch being an advance-or-die type of thing. But a lot of fun happens along the way, and this story is sure to please. I won't even mention the huge genre switches...

As it turns out, my initial hesitations from the story's description turned out to be unfounded. In terms of spelling/grammar, sure there are a few minor mispellings, misused words, and one dialogue scene with two speakers but an odd number of lines (the author must have lost track of who was speaking). Really, nothing major. And in terms of anachronisms... history does get tossed out the window at a certain point, but it's probably worth pointing out there was no Lake Mead until the Hoover Dam was completed in the 1930s.

So in terms of pure readability and enjoyment, "Twin Arrows" scored a 7 from me.

Now is the a "lone hero" story, though? That I'm not so sure about. The protag clearly does arrive alone, and he seems to have the skills to accomplish the job at hand. But in one of the two major branches he's pretty hapless, and in the other he is well-matched with a virtually equal partner--without whom he'd still be wandering the canyons of Arizona. Yes, the protag gets to do all the cool stuff, but Isabella seemed like more than just some handy sidekick. This makes him more like the James Bond of Old West bounty hunters than it does, say, Rooster Cogburn.

Bottom line: great story, very fun, highly recommended.
-- Bill_Ingersoll on 8/19/2019 8:50:32 PM with a score of 5
Twin Arrows is a pleasing Western. There are two criticisms I wish to make, and I will focus on the more important one. That is, the important characters - Isabelle, the protagonist, and the witch - are not well-defined. A more peripheral issue is related to setting: asides from the occasional 'amigo', I couldn't distinguish the place as New Mexico - instead of, say, any old dusty frontier. I'm not sure if I missed any details regarding this point, but oh well. Nevertheless, this is a most competent storygame.

TurnipBandit has already touched on the confusing characterisation of Isabelle. I will instead focus on the mysterious protagonist. While I don't need to know his entire backstory - such as why he is a wanderer from the outset - I do think there is a lack of rationale for his more important quality. Namely, his rare bravery. Why would our protagonist commit himself to risk life and limb as a bounty hunter? He doesn't seem overly mercenary (he's perfectly willing to fairly share HALF the bounty with a stranger). Nor does he hold a personal vendetta against the villain. He doesn't express a strong conviction either (for justice etc etc). I think this is a missed opportunity to develop the character and reinforce his portrayal as a hero. Without a clear understanding of what motivates him (perhaps he's a batman-esque figure etc etc), we can only take him as is. As is, he is perfectly happy to brave a band of seasoned murderers alone. There's no internal moral or emotional conflict to suggest he is tempted, at any point, to be unheroic. And if he is meant to be the unalloyed embodiment of 'good' (his actions aren't really presented as anything but badass and heroic), that idea isn't played with - why isn't the supporting cast affected by this strength of personality? Are people like our protagonist commonplace? Essentially, I'm expounding on the idea that without fear there can not be courage. Why are his actions commendable? For an entry to a genre that is all about individualism (YOU pave your own path out on the frontiers) this lack of clarity hinders the story's staying power.

The witch is a pivotal character for one of the endings. We never really grasp who/what she is, so her retribution against the protagonist - considering the circumstances of her demise - seemed undeserved to me. It also seemed undeserved to our protagonist. A sense of the unknown can be maintained even if we delve into greater characterisation. I believe that particular ending, along with this character, would benefit from just that.

Thank you for the enjoyable storygame, ninjapitka. I hope the feedback is useful in some way. Looking forward to the next one!
-- Ozoni on 9/29/2019 11:44:07 AM with a score of 5
I did not expect this to be a sci-fi story.
-- Victim on 9/29/2019 12:09:21 AM with a score of 5
I definitely enjoyed the game, though I suppose I didn't realise exactly how dangerous the Wild West was going to be until I kept dying (and there were definitely a lot of ways I could die). I did manage to (eventually) find my way, and I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself into the story. It was very atmospheric, full of a boatload of characters, and there were plenty of parts that made me laugh. The first one that comes to mind was the one right at the beginning, when you can just show One-Eyed the bounty (and I loved how your facial expression would be described as "a defeated look that would rival a whore's look of shame"). I was honestly just expecting another death scene but I really like how One-Eyed just went, nah, that's not me. Unexpected, yet fun to read. Another instance that comes to mind is when we can meet Eve, and ask her questions, and in one, she adds: "You should know that as my Caretaker." Uhh, guilty as charged.

I think also that, despite being a well-contained game, it does provide quite a bit of variability and, thus by consequences, a series of different outcomes which I honestly wasn't expecting. My favorite "story" was the one with Isabella (who I really liked as a character, and who I really think you managed to make into a real person) and so by consequence my favorite ending was "The Gunslingin' Couple" which had the best last two sentences in my opinion.

The only thing I'll be critical about is something I had already mentioned above, in that you die a lot in the beginning which does, yes, emphasise to choose carefully, but it does start to also give you the feeling that there's only one really right way to play this game. It did get better as the game went on, so I think it was just really a problem at the beginning.
-- cel_larkspur on 9/10/2019 9:21:46 AM with a score of 5
Really amazing. The author certainly knows how to pull you into the story. Highly recommended :)
-- Mika on 8/29/2019 12:50:38 PM with a score of 1
This story kicks ass. Yeah, I have some nitpicks about writing and riddles and sudden gotcha "binary one way=death and the other way=the story" structures. But that melts away, because the story kicks ass. Characters I wanted to spend time with, an actual roll-the-dice shootout, and a big branch leading to different storylines.

This was atmospheric, well-thought-out, and a blast to play.
-- Gower on 8/20/2019 8:31:49 PM with a score of 6
Grammar and spelling is pretty good here. The story is put together very well.

The issues I have with this story are pretty much just mine. Things like "Pineapples don't happen in Arizona in the 1870's" or "That's not how any man in the west talks to a woman" or "That's not how native magic works" Then there's again my anatomy issue with "That's not how a spinal column can even break".

The author did a good job on researching the area. The story still hooked be besides my hangups. My issues are mostly because I'm an old school gate keeping nerd. Not because this isn't a quality story. So if you're planning on reading this get ready for simple riddles and over the top action/gore.
-- DerPrussen on 8/18/2019 12:27:04 PM with a score of 5
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