Player Comments on In Moonlit Waters
I'm totally not forced to write a proper review or something like that and I should've written it anyway. Nevertheless, one fact that I do like is that the setting was so well established. From the poetry to the cover image, it screams like a Wuxia Chinese inspired story to me. I have a feeling that the author is quite knowledgeable about east Asian culture; for example you got the clothes description down to a T. In a way, the east asian-esque setting does make the story stand out even more amongst the west-European medieval fantasy schlock one has to comb through in the CYS fantasy section. It's quite refreshing to read something new for once.
The prologue (with the death of the protagonist's mum) also set up pretty well the overall tone of the story. The palace and everyone in the vicinity can and probably will kill you in the story. Trust is something very valuable not to be easily given and danger is lurking in every corner.
The backstory also explains why the protagonist is very closed off and so distrustful towards the prince, which gives their relationship some good tension.
Oh, you once mentioned that you didn't think you've improved at all since Dreamtruder. Well, I have to say that you're very wrong haha. I gotta be honest, one of the biggest personal gripes I had with your previous stories is that the side characters were so much more interesting and gripping than the protagonists you write. They always felt a bit like a blank slate (sometimes it can be a good thing, but I think that Dreamtruder would have been more interesting with a more defined main character).
Well, when I finished In Moonlit Waters, I was quite surprised how memorable the protagonist was. I read it quite a while ago and I still could summarize what she had to struggle with (be ruthless or be kind in the contest, prioritize winning or prioritize the wellbeing of the loved ones you still have). Behind her insanely good combat abilities and cold exterior lies a very broken and lost person who's clearly still not over the death of her mother.
Although most of the story is pretty linear, I do think that it's quite interesting that the reader can basically choose how to develop her character. You can for example choose to kill that guy like she has been ordered to or let him go in one of the early chapters (emphasizing her kind side or bringing out her ruthlessness). The best part is, is that these kind, but hard action have future consequences in the game (when you meet the noblewoman who gave you the assignment again, she'll try to kill you when you've let the man go.) I was honestly quite surprised about it when I read it for the first time. It was my first "oh shit moment". Very nice work.
Unlike some other folk, I like the puzzles quite a lot. The one that I like the most is probably the chinese numbers, one of the puzzles that fits so well with the setting (the tea one was also a very enjoyable one). None of the puzzles felt too hard or frustrating, which is quite a surprise to me since I usually suck at puzzles and since I had quite a dramatically bad playthrough with the hunted and haunted Halloween.
Overall, I like it. More people should read it. Why hasn't it gotten 50 reviews yet even though it's a featured story game.
on 2/14/2023 4:48:03 PM with a score of 3
This story is good.
It almost makes me jealous, even. It's a story of revenge told well, and it picks a style and sticks with it. You're given choices that are outside the standard game over, and choices you made before can impact later scenes.
Ah, also the mystery that is present is one that'll keep you hooked. Something important was taken from the character, and you can play this revenge tale straight with wanting to get your revenge. The protagonist is strong within realistic parameters, and you have to be smart with your choices to keep them in the in-universe blood-filled "game" or contest that they find themselves in.
I liked the ancient Chinese flare that was given to this story. It's like you're in one of those epics of China, and hell, you are. It always feels like the stakes are escalating as the mystery that the protagonist seeks to unravel slowly does begin to unravel.
Also, the option to either play with the puzzle mode toggled on or off is appreciated. It's a welcome addition, because I know how much you love your puzzles with the last story-game of yours I've experienced.
You've done well in making a bloody revenge story that still seems to have this tasteful air to it. Maybe it's because of all of the stylized poems and such? In any case, this is a strong entry to the contest it was submitted for, as well as another story-game that can be considered a mighty fine addition to this website as a whole.
Seriously, I really enjoyed the prose that you've decided to go with for this story. The images that were also used help with the atmosphere as well. The imagery was done well enough on the strength of words alone, but it was just another aspect used to elevate what I was reading.
If you're a reader that likes stories of mystery a driven protagonist, and even hints of romance, well this is definitely a story that pays off all of those things well. It's a story that pays to be completed in its entirety.
on 7/12/2022 2:07:05 PM with a score of 337
My first thoughts reading this story are that the prose is very nice. Certainly, quite a lot of work went into the presentation. Readers must take the time to appreciate this. The use of language is fresh, sometimes pleasantly inventive, and engages my senses. The editing is careful, and the prose is easy-on-the-ear when read aloud.
The early text is superior to the latter text. While editing checked for spelling and grammar errors, it did little for bloated or unclear text. I was halfway through this story when I bothered to look at who the author was, the very same who wrote Dreamtruder. This is remarkably better in multiple areas. For one, the dialogue. This author is working hard and improving at the craft. However, I’m going to spend some time discussing some areas that really need to be hammered out.
Writing is not concise, but before I get into that, I’d like to mention a counterexample. I need to be clear here, forgive me if I’m not. We both know that it isn’t always easy to lead the reader into understanding precisely what you mean. There are some details that don’t necessarily advance the narrative, but are very charming. Mistaking oneself as a monster due to mud and moss was one of my favorite moments. It serves a greater purpose though, it engages the senses and helps us see the character as the world might see her. However, there are numerous passages which drag on far too long, and are of little consequence. In other words, the reader’s time is being wasted.
“Summer’s sun and moon… you instantly think of day and night. That indicates you’ll have to survive a summer day, which isn’t so bad, given your knowledge of starting simple fires and distinguishing ripe fruits from unripe ones.”
Let’s look at this passage. What about those skills was so important to tell the reader about? They are for one, very dull, and secondly, hardly related to surviving a single day in the summer. This is not a cold place. There is no reason for her to assume her fruit knowledge is in question. What if the sentence was more concise, human sounding, and cut information not useful or interesting to the reader?
“Summer’s sun and moon…” you consider those words and conclude, “then it will last for one full day.”
This is fewer than half as many words, and includes all the same pertinent information. Preferably, every sentence has intent. More preferably, every word has intent. When the protagonist is in a life or death situation, why would her inner monologue run as it does? We’ll look at another,
“The hiding part is still strangest to you. Do these soldiers wield such immense power that even attempting to fight them is against the rules?”
Why, why would she think this? What about them being powerful or not has to do with fighting them being part of the rules? Their immense power might make fighting them impractical, but against the rules? Her line of thought is odd, and inconsistent with her strengths. She should have been thrilled that the contest played to her strengths, namely stealth.
There are many wholly inconsequential lines, meaning here that they do not build the world, the characters, or advance the narrative, distracting readers from key details easily lost in the prose. By the second chapter I couldn’t keep together exactly what was happening or why. I had a general understanding of the narrative and the characters, but found myself rereading pages trying to work out numerous details. As the story progressed, the sense of reason deteriorated rapidly. The entire winter contest is one illogical moment after another.
My original grievances with this section ended up running very long, so here is the summary, excluding several details. It begins with the protagonist knowing something the reader doesn’t about the monsters in the snow. A few drops of blood hit the snow and we are told that the monsters will be there in “seconds.” The protagonist hides. Not long later the protag finds herself standing, unknowingly over a wounded noble in a shelter of sorts. We learn this through the following text:
“I’m Gushi, the eleventh prince of Feng Palace. Pleasure to meet your acquaintance.” There’s a pained gasp at your feet, then he continues speaking. “I’d stand, but you see, it’s not easy to do so when there’s a gaping hole in my abdomen.”
This is some incredibly alien dialogue. This is the description of Gushi that follows, “… he’s a squirming mess of blood, flesh, and intestines…”
Gushi not only formally introduces himself in this state, but goes on to casually tell a lengthy myth. This text shortly follows the beginning of his tale, “You gasp, Father’s sword forgotten by your side. All that matters now is this riveting tale.” All that matters? This man’s intestines are playing peekaboo with you. But sure, his story is all that matters. He’s only two or three lines into the story. Don’t tell the reader that his story is riveting. It really isn’t. You must engross the reader. Do not ask the reader to pretend such a thing.
When the prince dies mid story this is the following text, “Gushi? Is everything alright?” You walk towards him, careful not to step on his bloodied body. “Please, wake up! You have to finish the story.”
No. Everything is not alright. Again, intestinal peekaboo. This man is experiencing massive hemorrhaging. Screaming, groaning, going into shock, and dying are par for the course here. This is an insufferably stupid thing to say. Even more ridiculously, after casually listening to his long story, the scent of blood suddenly matters again.
As such, the protag is going to bury the body… “It’s a sensible option—doing so will mask the stench of blood for slightly longer,” We had seconds earlier, but now we have all this time. Then, some things change and protag has time to cut up the body, then go outside, gather vines, covered in blood mind you, desecrate a body, then go looking for the monsters because they couldn’t find all this blood… It really does go on like this, but due to space and spoilers I’ll cut it short. It’s an ongoing problem.
The writing is often unclear. Often the inferences readers are to make are left too much to interpretation. Those inferences need to be accurate to interpret the text as intended. One example that comes to mind is when the imperial commander is shot in the face with an arrow. That’s it, the reader should assume, he’s dead. Then, we are given the option to stay and question him. He’s alive? And questionable! That’s news to me, nothing in the text made that clear.
The author would benefit if their focus was on clarity, concision, and sensibility. All manner of devotion and discipline are present, but not these skills. Keep writing and mastery will draw closer and closer.
on 7/9/2022 1:44:40 AM with a score of 337
This is a beautifully written story about a part of the world I'm pretty familiar with. The story reads very authentically in the style of traditional Chinese epics and is just a nice experience throughout: the puzzles are fun, the characters are interesting and this story stands out as one of the better tales of this kind on the site :)
on 1/8/2024 4:21:56 AM with a score of 2
That was tricky!! I enjoyed it.
— I like it on 9/21/2023 10:56:40 AM with a score of 3
I liked the prose. I liked the riddles. I liked the characters. I liked Liu's character arcs. I liked the early choices clearly impacting those later in the game. I liked the overall message and theme of the story.
Chinese Hunger Games was pretty rad. Glad the first Wuxia story I found on CYL was so good.
on 9/10/2023 12:31:10 AM with a score of 337
Great quality! Like every entry you’ve made for contests. You truly are a mystic warrior!
You work very well with puzzles, and the chapters page was delightful, too. You have a creative mind.
I played a couple of times, but couldn’t get to the last couple of chapters. Congratulations on the many different endings, and nothing unnecessary or annoying. All the variety in this story is well thought out.
Amazing work, now I must go back to trying to defeat it
on 9/27/2022 11:46:12 AM with a score of 3
Good story. Well done.
— Mrwheelbarow on 8/15/2022 9:04:02 AM with a score of 337