Player Comments on The Reign of Terror
I'm rendered speechless, it reads like a true memoir in a good way. I think it's one of your best works yet and strikes a perfect balance between keeping a good narrative and sticking to a historical accuracy. I always do think that the gritty detective drinking alcohol sets up quite a good tone such as film directors do with smoking.
And it also makes use of the fact that it's interactive fiction. The thing that made me really tug at my heartstrings was the trial scene where the detective was asked whether there was anything, anything else he could do to bring the murder victims justice. I clicked through every possible choice and found myself with the answer: "they all got away, we cannot do anything anymore, it's all we can do." This anger and frustration I felt, it must be hundred times that for the people that had worked in real life on the case and of course the victims' families.
During the interviews, there were these short dialogues Clipped one after the other. The tension I felt reading these sequences were truly nailbiting. The lack of any descriptions during these scènes made you focus even more on how awkward they must have been in real life.
In short, come on people and don't procrastinate on it like I did, it's a good read and needs more loving praise.
on 11/4/2022 4:46:06 PM with a score of 0
I haven't reviewed in a while, so bear with me while I try to haphazardly pile my thoughts on the page.
This story is the first time that I (and many others, I'm sure) have even heard of this string of murders and schemes for money, up to hundreds of Indians killed within the timespan of a few years. It's chilling to see each lifelike character near us die mysteriously, as if being dragged down to a dark undercurrent by an unknown force. Call me soft, but I was scared silly. But that only meant that the discovery of the truth and persecution of the criminals were all the more gratifying, and I'm all for it.
The writing itself was quite fantastic, matching the plot's dark undertones and flowing quite nicely from scene to scene. The dialogue was crafted appropriately, faithful to (what I believe) the 1920's South. Nothing felt clunky or in the way of immersion. The attention to detail is astounding, and really helped in the enjoyment while I read.
I could see some complaining about the lack of choices in this game, but it's only natural that there's not much warping and branching in a story based in history. I had plenty of enjoyment reading through each of the 3 choice "interrogations", and I would definitely take a thoughtful story like this over many other choice "stories".
Wonderful reading, what more can I say?
on 10/19/2022 5:17:49 PM with a score of 0
I really enjoyed this story. I'm not sure everybody is going to love it but I had a blast reading... most of it. I will mention some of the stuff I found lackluster later on. A big part of it is actually the technical details of how this game... or rather, story, was implemented. But I will begin with the good stuff.
The intro is absolutely phenomenal and incredibly personal. Right at the beginning, I am introduced to the character and can empathize with him. And given I'm an edgy fascist, that's an achievement since this is not the type of intro I would usually like.
I like the effort put into the different ways the people speak. I find it incredibly tough to do, personally, and people have mentioned the anachronistic dialogue issue in my games. Big props for that. And also for using the gamer word in a context-appropriate way. Of course in the 1920's people wouldn't hesitate to call somebody a nigger. Though nobody was ever going to make an issue of that on this website.
This story was proofread pretty well. I found a very small amount of typos. For example, for the very first victim, one of the pages says "they bought the boat back" rather than brought it. So this story gets extra points for attention to that.
Humor is present throughout the story. Dark humor, which also happens to be my favorite kind, and I will list some of my favorite examples:
- He confesses to killing Lewis for her money and is sentenced to death. The sentence is commuted to life imprisonment. The sentence is then commuted again to six years imprisonment. (I don't think this one was supposed to be funny, rather sad, and showing the unfair treatment of Indians at the time, but I laughed so hard).
- Well, your long-term plan is to die of liver disease before insolvency becomes a problem. (lol)
- Not the sharpest knife in the spoon drawer. (this is fucking phenomenal lol, I was looking for a new way to call somebody stupid).
I will refrain from naming names, so as not to spoil any potential readers, but that guy was suspicious as hell the moment he visited me, and I'm glad I was right about him. The note I wrote down for this review after his second paragraph was "[Insert name here] sus af fr fr."
I was as surprised as Comstock, the main character, was when Tom reminded me I hadn't been drinking nor talking to Mary for the past couple of months. I got too into the murders and forgot about it, as has the main character apparently. And it was this specific line that actually meant a great deal to me. Not to be a whiny little bitch, but for the past few months I have been really depressed and, honestly, unwilling to go on. However, real life has been hitting me hard recently, and I've had to double my efforts. I will be working two jobs to support the family in the future, and I truly hope, nay, believe that just as our main character here slowly got over his issues due to external pressure, so will I.
And finally, I like the little Author's notes thingy at the end. I actually looked up a couple of Wikipedia articles about these murders myself and did find a few minor differences, but you did admit to that. I wasn't able to find too much stuff on our MC himself, however. I'd like to have read more about him. You did say he wasn't actually a raging alcoholic.
Now that the good stuff is out of the way, let's go over some negatives. Most of this is technical stuff.
To begin with, I would recommend using <hr> tags instead of just typing out ---------------------------. While the lines look good on my PC, I was curious and opened the story up on my phone... and the lines spilled over, and looked quite ugly. If you use the <hr> tag instead, it just works beautifully, as can be seen in Epilogue 1 of this amazing story called "What a Terrible World". Shameless self-plug, hehe.
Having used the extension to open up the dev panel, I saw that this story contains absolutely no variables. Having checked out various combinations of links, I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter whether you ask for one or three clues during the investigations, and it will end up the exact same.
The links loop in a weird way that breaks immersion sometimes. I was kicked out of Middleton's house, but then after I went to another location, I was again able to access the house and repeat the conversation as if it hadn't happened. This would not be a hard thing to fix, and requires no scripting or variables — Just add a restriction on the link so it can only be clicked once.
Similarly, the dates on top are very nice and allow the player to keep track of the passage of time, but they can, once more due to the scripting, be off sometimes. For a specific example, each of the 3 choices on the 1 June 1921 page says that "a few days has passed" which is consistent with the time if you followed it from the previous page. However, if you go from one option to the next, it says so again and again, without the date changing. I suppose you're just meant to accept you visited them all in one day, or you were only meant to go after one clue?
I found the story to drag a bit somewhere in the middle. Murders just keep happening one after the other, again and again. I realize that was kind of the point of the story, to show off this horrific string of murders, but it still felt a bit too much. A couple of attempts on your life, especially the dynamite one, helped to fix the pacing.
As for why I keep referring to this as a "story" rather than a game? Well, despite the fact you can choose which clues to gather, they don't really matter. I believe the story plays out exactly the same every time, and there are no death endings along the way. So it is incredibly linear, which I can't say I like. I believe there were 2-3 "flavor" choices where you can choose one or the other, and that helped out, otherwise this would straight up have been just one linear story, except you can read the short version if you skip gathering clues. I may be wrong, but that is my impression from a full playthrough, and going back to click some other options.
The "trial" is well done, especially the fact the player isn't punished if he gets something wrong. Otherwise, this story would have to be played with a pen and paper next to you (or uh... a notepad file open). There are way too many potential murderers and even more victims. I'll admit I straight up wasn't able to remember who like 1/3rd of the characters were. Anyway, the player gets to remember everything they know... and then realize how useless it is. America wasn't kind to Indians in the 1920s apparently (this is not me being sarcastic, I'm straight up not sure, given I'm not American).
All in all, if the story fixed some of the technical issues I brought up, and added a couple more choices along the way, this would have been an easy 7/8 for the way it affected me and made me... feel stuff. Which is not often a thing that happens to me (Cricket will confirm my flat affect).
As it is, for now, I have rated it a 6/8. I do recommend the story if you're a historical fan.
Nice job :)
on 10/18/2022 9:05:10 AM with a score of 0
Great story, good historical depth and context. Frustrating End, but that's history for you.
— Anthraxus on 3/21/2023 5:43:20 PM with a score of 0
This was really good!
This story was intense and is very well written. The atmosphere is consistent throughout, and the main character is nicely flawed, which makes him more relatable.
The only thing that I found that could be considered a negative is that there was not really any true branching. You could choose the order to get information, or not, but the narrative seemed to go in the same direction. However, the writing is compelling and well presented, and the historical information is interesting, which in my opinion outweighs this small criticism.
Overall, great read and highly recommended.
on 11/4/2022 5:00:51 PM with a score of 0
A bit of a somber kind of tale this time around, but written well by Will when all is said and done.
on 11/2/2022 6:34:48 PM with a score of 0
Ah, Will, I loved it! The historical content was great and the dialogue really kept me interested and involved. I loved reading all the details and slowly gathering more information. I liked all the historical details -- it was a beautiful read!
on 11/2/2022 6:32:41 PM with a score of 0
I admit I have literally never heard of these events before reading this storygame. Considering the sheer scope of it--we're talking hundreds of victims--and the utter callousness and evil not only of the killers but of the system that aided and protected them, I'm pretty surprised it's gone completely under my radar all this time. Reading about the real life backstory is something else.
The visit to the cemetary was the strongest moment here as far as impact, until then the sheer scope of the murders and how many lives they affected hadn't quite sunk in. (Although there was a bit too much clicking to no purpose in the section that followed, that was the only point the momentum of the story stalled out for me--even though the ability was there to move on, I'm a completionist.)
Otherwise the story itself is well done and a breeze to read through, though it has to be said there really isn't anything in the way of branching aside from choosing what order to collect information in. Given the dangers of the situation I'm surprised a few ways weren't included for our protagonist to take some wrong turns.
Sort of a weakness of some of Will's other historical mysteries have been the genericness of the POV character, who is often just the vehicle to move the player from fact to fact. Happily that's not the case here, our detective suffers from crippling alcoholism and is given to rambling about his dead wife and breaking down into tears at awkward moments, while the period accurate dialogue adds a lot of flavor. So I would say that any creative liberties taken with the real investigator have made for a better story overall.
(I do think the description could be spruced up a little, "rich men and women" paints a much different picture than a conspiracy to murder Osage Indians for their wealth. And of course the title already is going to make most people think of the French.)
on 10/16/2022 3:24:06 PM with a score of 0