Player Comments on When The Music's Over
When The Music’s Over feels like the free demo of a good game. It’s obvious that the endings could still branch off more, or at least be fleshed out with more detail, but throughout all of the endings I’ve found that there are certain aspects in which this story is lacking. It’s by no means a bad game, there’s just a lot of things that I’d like to see in your story that’s not there.
First of all, it’s my understanding that this isn’t supposed to be a typical ‘save the world from evil’ type story that’s described in the prologue ending. I find the idea of a tired old man regaining his former passion for good intriguing, and you definitely did a good job writing the character to be gruff, and angry at everything. I also liked how doing the morally ‘wrong’ thing didn’t immediately end the story.
I know that ultimately it’s the authors choice how the story unfolds, but I was kind of sad that he never got the girl. There are a couple of opportunities for him to potentially hook up with one of the characters, and I’d really like to see it. I know one of the major aspects of the plot is his history, and it seemed like from the brief memories that there was something going on with him and Grace (I think that’s her name, been a couple of days). If you’re really adamant about him not engaging in any love interests, I’d think it would be nice if you briefly mention something about how he’s still in love with her, as a kind of explanation.
The whole ghost thing seems like it could be cool, but those paths are the most ‘unfinished’ in my opinion. The other paths felt somewhat finished, but the ghost ones didn’t really give anything other than a ‘you have been affected by this. You will be better person now. The end.’ I’d really like to see more here. I enjoyed the 4th wall break a lot. It was executed well, and it made me laugh. Somehow my favorite paths are the ones that end in death, which is probably because there’s a certain finality there that makes it hard for readers to want the story to continue.
The whole thing was good but it could definitely be better. Unlike a lot of stories, there isn’t really any undesirable endings. I’d recommend reading all of them, especially because the best ones aren’t the ones obtained on the first few go throughs. The story is just so compelling it leaves people wanting more.
on 1/23/2020 10:20:00 AM with a score of 32
This was an excellently written piece. Honestly, I know how long it takes to polish a written work of over 40,000 words -- but the author's managed to do it here. I didn't spot any typos or grammatical errors, and the prose itself sounded very good.
I think I read through all the pathways. My favourite ones were (SPOILERS): the ones that focus on the meta-narrative behind the whole story. I think I got two of these endings on my first and second run through the game, correspondingly. Which may have been because I found it intriguing that the protagonist could just ignore the traditional 'adventure' expected in these types of stories and just do things on his own terms. That sounded a lot more interesting, and it was.
I explored virtually every route that involved ignoring King Oren's call, before eventually going. I was pleasantly surprised to note some other very interesting paths which I enjoyed just as much as the first ones, such as (SPOILERS): the ending where we save the town from a demon, or the one where we help the old man in the cabin.
King Oren's route was a bit interesting, too. I like how (SPOILERS): there was no happy ending on this route. We were told at the beginning that it would be a suicide mission, and it was. Clearly the game wanted us to explore alternative pathways in the story. It also emphasized how awful war and such war missions are.
In general, this piece focuses on the heartbreak the protagonist has felt after losing his four friends on the previous noble quest which had made him a 'hero'. He usually hates it when people dub him as a 'hero' for this reason. It's really well-done. You can feel the protagonist's regret and feelings for his friends. So many of the endings discuss different aspects of his relationships with them. Reading through just one of them, you may only catch a little glimpse. Once you've read through most of the endings, you've started to care for them, too. And you start to partake in the protagonist's sense of hopelessness, there.
The game also offers a wide diversity of moral choices. I really liked this. There is a feasible explanation given for why he might choose either option, as well: the moral options show that he still cares, and the immoral options indicate that he's given up -- for what does he have left left, now that all has been taken from him? This keeps the characterization of the protagonist consistent. That being said, the narration of the game strongly encourages the player to choose the more moral options, which I like, but there is something to be gained from reading through all the pathways.
Perhaps most importantly, I loved who the protagonist *was* in this game. I got a real sense for his backstory, and for how he feels about the world. This story does a very good job of exploring the themes of regret, love, and mourning. It resonated with me.
One small recommendation for improvement (and I know this has been mentioned in some of the other reviews): I did feel like one or two pathways were cut off a bit short. I understand that because this game offered such a wide diversity of branching, it wasn't supposed to take long to read through any of the individual paths. But there were some scenes for which I think maybe even just one additional page would've been warranted. For example (SPOILERS): the ending where we succeed on King Oren's mission and are waiting for death from the soldiers. This sounds like such a climactic scene, but it's not described. The result is that the reader feels like they were left hanging.
Overall, When The Music's Over is an adventure-not-adventure story that gives the reader an impressive degree of options to choose from and functions as an overall commentary on the nature of 'adventure', 'heroism', loss, and death. 7/8.
on 1/23/2020 10:17:22 AM with a score of 27
Well that was quite the ride.
I've been reading this on and off all throughout the day, and it hasn't disappointed. Written almost entirely in Cave of Time style (with the exception of one branch which I'll get to) choices lead you on to story after story with very little retreading.
I'm ashamed to admit I've never listened the theme song in its entirety before. But it fits REALLY well with the tone established in the beginning, I can totally picture the bitter man slowly losing his mind and devolving to a drunk throwing bottles at the wall. Although many of the paths happily go on to prove that he can still be more than that or even find peace and contentment.
Kit just WORKS as a protagonist. As I said in the thread, Disillusioned Old Sword Guy Who Only Wants to Be Left Alone is such an archetypal character type and I believe that's a factor in making him so easy to relate to. The key to many of the paths fit this, so many of them come down simply to what level of apathy he'll be operating at.
There are several paths I wish were longer, but I know that's a trade off with the Cave of Time style, and of course it's better to leave the reader wanting more than wanting to know when it will end. Only one or two out of the MANY endings were abrupt enough they didn't feel like real endings, anyhow, and what we did get fueled the imagination and left me thinking about what happened next. I'm happy you went ahead and made the prompt thread...I do so hope Gower started a trend with that idea, because this story in particular is really suited to it.
The only path that felt weak was the one where you accept the mission and go to the castle. On its own I suppose it's not bad, but when compared to the others it just felt lacking. That's extra unfortunate since 1) I believe a lot of new readers will pick it first while assuming it's the 'canon' path, and 2) it's the only path that has multiple choices looping into it, so it will be encountered more often than the others.
For one thing, it's hard to play a washed up and bitter old hero getting a special summons from the king to go on a quest without feeling like you're about to embark on something epic....and in this case that turned out to essentially be just sneaking through a sewer and burning a warehouse down. I wasn't shown any convincing reason why another knight from Miller's order or even just some normal soldier wouldn't do. In fact, Iris did most of the heavy lifting there on her own.
From following the developments on this in the Discord I was already aware that this was the last section Chris wrote, and he's heading off to Job Corps tomorrow so he had a hard time limit there, so it's pretty clear all of that was a factor. Maybe this path can be revisited and expanded some day.
Even though the mission for the king was a bit of a disappointment plot-wise, the writing itself still held up as well as anywhere else in the story. The proofreading was very thoroughly done for a story this size, I only spotted a handful of typos throughout the whole thing. And the entire style and mood here is such a departure from Chris' usual style, it feels much more mature and contemplative in tone, even a little sad. The first page really captured that sense, and even though there are many satisfying and even happy or uplifting endings you can find, the tone is consistent. Along with that are the touches of realism mixed with the fantastic, and just the right level of detail to make the setting feel lived in by real people; it's all written so smoothly you can't help but slip right into the scenes.
'When you reach the gates, you see two guards ahead; one is watching a firefly intently as it floats around his face, while the other has fallen asleep while standing up.' - Just a random sentence I pulled to demonstrate how a couple of small details to set a scene can make the whole thing grounded so believably and easy to imagine. (It also made me feel like a dick when I killed them a moment later...)
The characters were also standout and worth a moment of appreciation here.
Even in the relatively weak mission for the king path, Iris was great. She had an attitude and was so not impressed with this washed up old drunk and not shy about saying so, and yet she was the only one who had her facts straight about what happened in the past and fondly remembered Grace.
As I've said, many of the paths can be short, and each is practically a standalone story. Yet these characters who only get a few pages apiece are each so memorable. A couple of vivid visual details about them combined with a speaking style that's recognizable for each (without ever going overboard on accents or anything annoying like that) just piles on the personality. I don't believe I ever realized before this how natural Chris' handling of dialogue was.
Wrapping this up, I just want to say that I think out of all the paths, nearly all of which I enjoyed quite a lot, the stand out ending for me was actually the first one I got--the one where Lilith showed up. In fact when I get around to doing the writing prompt to continue an ending, it will certainly be this one, because I badly, *badly* wanted that adventure to continue, and even moreso now after reading the rest of the story for perspective. The shift in Kit's whole worldview after the knowledge she gives would make the entire mission read differently, from a suddenly more hopeful perspective. If this were a novel, that scene would almost have to be canon to give the hero that push they needed to go out and face their demons. (Occasionally literal ones...) I couldn't help but feel afterwards that Kit just leaving on his own felt like he had juuust missed getting to experience something life changingly important.
Anyhow, Chris has really proved that sometimes suffering the continued existence of the edgy racist eleven year olds among us can pay off in spades down the road. And the featuring was well deserved. I'm really pleased he was suddenly so divinely inspired to write this one and was able to gift it to the site right before he left for a bit to get all grown up. This should be inspirational to us all.
on 11/11/2019 8:48:15 PM with a score of 27
Should give you an insight into the author's creative writing abilities - provides short-burst shots of quick, ecstatic entertainment.
on 1/26/2020 7:02:42 AM with a score of 36
An enjoyable read overall. Though each individual path is rather short, and leaves you wanting more. Many of the endings feel like the story has only just begun. I also noticed that the most interesting endings were all found when you ignore the "call to arms." I'd have liked to see that side, working with the kingdom, fleshed out a bit more since the letter itself is what initiates everything in the first place.
on 1/19/2020 3:48:03 AM with a score of 27
Nice take on the aftermath of a stereotypical teen fantasy gone wrong.
on 1/16/2020 2:53:01 PM with a score of 30
Yeah bill is a bitchy boomer. But tbh it was a pretty bitchy thing of you to do to publicly show everyone that rated your story so you could try to shame everyone into giving you a higher rating than this story would have probably gotten otherwise, lost respect for you. Now for this comment to get deleted lul
-- aDiscordUser on 1/16/2020 6:45:59 AM with a score of 44
Oh, fun. I never had to leave my house, yet I still got to become a filthy rebel leader. I approve.
on 1/8/2020 1:16:10 AM with a score of 36
I have just noticed silly me that I gave my review when It was on sneak peek lol. So didn't register. The game still as fun and that Lone wolf and old classic choice your own adventure vibe, you have that to the point writing for that. Myself and it is totally personal find the protagonist less defined and emotional portrayed compared with the old companions, that probably is intentional to show the emotional wreckage of the main hero psyche.
This run I had an ending I didn't expect enjoy but I did. The uprising ending that implies that Hero can overthrow the king. A great ending, maybe too short. This ending with one or two scenes more than shown briefly the war and a choice character become mad of power or not, and the consequences of that would have made a meaningful branch of its own.
on 1/7/2020 7:03:27 AM with a score of 36
A good start. I was just getting into it and raised a rebellion when the story ended abruptly. I would have liked to see that story arc developed further as I was enjoying it and didn't feel like the tale was over.
-- Jordi P on 1/3/2020 11:41:14 AM with a score of 36
This was an absolute pleasure to read! I may be biased, as I'm a big fan of stories with grizzled/deadbeat characters that have fallen from their former glory, lol. The style of writing is simple enough to not be repetitive or "too much" at once. Rather, it remains concise and maintains its impact in describing the characters, their thoughts, emotions, and actions. You receive a vivid picture without feeling overwhelmed. It is gripping delightful to read, with very few grammatical errors that do not impact comprehension. I thoroughly enjoyed this story!
on 1/3/2020 12:44:08 AM with a score of 39
on 12/29/2019 6:48:17 PM with a score of 40
Going into this I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been meaning to read it for a while now, and I was not disappointed. It was just over all a great game, I don’t know how else to put it. Overall this game is great, and I don’t even have that many complaints about it. It is just that good. If you haven’t read this game yet, please just do it. It is just amazing, and you won’t regret it.
To start off the concept is amazing. What happens to that main character after the great quest. The one who has killed hundreds, lost friends, all in the name of his quest. What happens when he finishes it? What does he have to live for then? It is just go intriguing, and the story explores it well.
Now I’m going to talk about the big problem that everyone has already addressed, even you yourself. It is the fact that the king path is so short. It felt like the mission they went on was over before it even started. It shouldn’t have been that easy. It didn’t feel deserved. I wish that it was expanded upon more, but I know it wasn’t the point of the story. This story has a few main paths all around the same length, and while the king one is a little longer, it isn’t by a ton.
Another thing I noticed was how some endings ended so quickly. Oh I’m going to go out and do something and change th… end game and leave comments. While I understand while it had to happen, it is still kind of irritating.
My favorite ending/path was the one when you were talking with your dead friends. I LOVED this path. Hearing about his friends in this game in general was great. They interested me a lot, and I love how you explored the fact that it could have been any one of them, and how they would have handled it. It only proves my point more about how does anyone live after they have accomplished the thing they worked so hard for. I just loved it.
Also that one path you said no one would get first try? You’re right, I got it second try lol.
In conclusion, this game is amazing. I think it definitely deserves its spot in the fantasy feature spot, and while it may not be the best, or second best, or third…While it may not be the best one there, being there at all is a great accomplishment, especially when 4 out 7 of those stories are on a god tier almost by default because of their author. In any case, my real problem here is whether it should be a 6 or a 7, and since it managed to surprise me…
7 out of 8
on 12/29/2019 6:33:45 PM with a score of 27
“Let’s give those Kishak bastards hell.”
Perfect. Absolutely perfect.
on 12/25/2019 4:39:31 AM with a score of 42
"People are going to rate me a 1 if they find this wannabe avant-garde bullshit path."
Fuck you, Chris. I do what I want.
The writing quality was very good, and there were no flaws in the grammar that were distracting or anything.
The action was well done and had me excited over how utterly BADASS the main character was. I don't always like lengthy action scenes, but in this story, they were some of my favorite parts. I really enjoyed that the main character could walk off crossbow bolts to the leg and cut four men down with a single swing of the sword. Not everyone probably appreciates that, but I do.
There were also a range of interesting characters. Although we didn't meet most of them for long.
The branching is mostly time cave style, but there are a few places where it re-branches and such, as it says in the story description. However, most choices lead to unique branches. Some seemed to be cut off a little shorter than they could have been, but there was a good variety. The endings were all interesting in their own rights too, and they range from traveling around to smite bandits to becoming a wholesome drug dealer to being the spokesman of a store to meeting the author and reader both.
Overall, this was a really good fantasy story that I would highly recommend to you faggots who are reading this review before you read the story.
My biggest complaint is as follows:
"Too short. Needs moar words."
P.S. Nice title page.
on 12/16/2019 11:56:30 AM with a score of 23
I liked the concept of this story game. Often times we observe the same old cliché fantasy plot. Hero killes evil villain, saves the day, and lives happily ever after. This story challenges the 'happily ever after' part to a great extent, giving a new realistic touch to a not so realistic fantasy trope. The character building of the protagonist was really very good. I genuinely sympathized with the guy, and the plight he was suffering through. This is a good example of taking a simple biography, and turning it into so much more complexity, by giving emotion and a overall nihilist attitude. It just felt more, believeable. The author has a really good understanding of human emotions, and is really good emulating those characteristics to the reader; making them more engrossed.
One criticism I might have is with how vague the endings felt. I mean, I know its cave of time, so endings have to be styled like this, but maybe you could've expanded on the choices and branches a bit more? I honestly think, that between 6 short length branches and 2 long length branches, even if the 6 short ones are more in quantity, the 2 long ones are strong in quantity. The endings here start out nicely, but feel...incomplete in the end.
As for grammar and syntax, everything was proofread nicely, and I couldn't find ant errors; but maybe there could be and I missed them.
I was engrossed in this story game for quite a while, and it was entertaining to read for sure. This story game really manages to immerse the reader inside the plot
on 12/14/2019 12:00:07 AM with a score of 8
This game kicks ass, and I continue to be a big fan of Chris's writing. I love his sense of high adventure and his choice structure, with meaningful, interesting choices everywhere.
on 12/5/2019 10:28:45 AM with a score of 43
-- -geboh on 11/18/2019 8:20:44 AM with a score of 9
First of all, I want to address the title page as it sets the tone for the entire story. It’s very fitting. It could be a hero walking into the distance after performing the typical heroic actions. It also could be the hero turning his back when the people need him most. Spoiler, both options are presented to the protag in the story and the image is in-line with it. The picture adds to the story instead of taking away (or adding nothing), and I think it’s great use of visuals. Also, I notice the font changed from the blocky, meme looking text. Great decision.
The story takes classic fantasy aspects and puts its own twist on them. It’s very “Chris-y” if you’ve read his other work. There’s an interesting dynamic happening with the main character, and you get to follow his story during a strange part of his life. It’s not often the reluctant hero was a legendary warrior in the past, and the unique situation kept me engaged. There is only one minor issue I had with the MC. His fighting ability doesn’t seem affected by his situation at all. He’s spent many years doing nothing but “drinking wine and eating bread.” Now I can believe his legendary skills are enough to carry him through, but that lifestyle will add pounds fast. In fact, I imagined the MC as rather portly after reading about his life since the “good ol days” but I imagine he was not written to be on the heavier side. This is fantasy, so maybe real world health facts don’t apply. I’ll give you that.
On this play-through, I chose to answer the king’s call. The plot gives you a good enough reason to follow through with his king’s request. It’s kind of the classic “kill one, save a thousand” message. This also reveals the hero within the MC, Kit, may still be in there. Kit’s drunkenness reminds me a bit of Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai. He’s an alcoholic, but later you realize he’s affected by severe PTSD, and the sauce is the only way to manage. The conversation Kit has with himself before the mission alludes to that.
One thing I noticed by the traveling description, is that the king’s castle is very close to the border. The distance between the castle and Ornislov is about a day. The distance to the border was a few miles, and the journey through the forest to Ornislov took maybe half a day at the most. Most of the time descriptions were “a few hours”, and I didn’t remember reading a section about camping overnight. This is just an observation, although when you imagine a conflict between a nation and an empire, you think it would take place over a vast amount of land. Like I said, just an observation. I was going to point out the border was not very protected, but the END GAME link in the forest helped solve that issue.
I think I reached all the possible endings for this path. The endings I found all resulted in death. I didn’t see the generic mission successful epilogue where the MC gets the girl. I suppose the king did say it was a suicide mission. Unless I didn’t discover the right path, the ending felt very abrupt, like the story was just beginning and then it suddenly ended.
This is the second path I’ve played through, and while the story has extensive branching, the two I’ve played lack the overall feel of an epic. For example, this branch probably took less than a week’s time from beginning to end. It feels like you’re just getting to know your party and it’s over. I would like to learn more about Grace and Iris as well as more into Miller’s background. The writing quality is high, the story is engaging, and the plot is interesting. I intend to go back and read more paths, which is one of the tells behind a solid piece of interactive fiction. Well done.
on 11/8/2019 11:38:36 AM with a score of 42
Having read the entire story before release, I am writing this on the first end game link for this playthrough. Spoilers will be present.
This game was very well done. The best part about it is the unique perspective of the main character--who is a legendary hero AFTER the great evil is dead. This character has to deal with the loss of all of his friends, who died during the quest that took place before this story. This jaded ex-hero now has to decide how to cope with the fame and live the rest of his life. This perspective is continued in a branch where you can see what would have happened if the main character had died and one of his companions had lived--the author shows that any one of them would break down from the pressure.
No one branch is particularly long--but there are a ton of branches. You can do many things from resuming hero work to going mad, or even being king of the barbarians. Each branch has a great amount of character development packed into a short time. You either make a mental breakthrough and recover, continue a half-drunken stupor, or descend into chaos.
This story makes you wonder two things: what exactly happened before, and what exactly happens after. It is a great snapshot of the hero's internal struggle. I found my self caring about this hero and looking for the best branch for him to make a heroic comeback (because that is what I like).
There is even a 4th wall break that is pretty funny. I would have gone a different direction with that personally, but the author had some fun with it. He went in a ton of different directions. Again, the only "complaint" is that each branch felt short. If you wanted to just play one branch you will not see this story's potential. Playing multiple branches is when this story starts to shine.
I hope the author makes a prequel and a sequel. Perhaps this game could even be a writing prompt: pick and ending and continue it.
on 11/8/2019 10:36:02 AM with a score of 9
First I love your writing style, it reminds me of those old bards from medieval epic with a mockery undertone and a direct style.
I choose not going to the king calling. And all the Lilly presence it was great but the lack of knowledge about her that limits a little bit the dramatic weight of the scene. Maybe a previous dream about her and the dead companions while being drunken. Or crying their names in the dark could set the tone a little better but I love the game.
on 11/5/2019 12:28:04 PM with a score of 27