Player Comments on Penthos

There’s a real pleasure in having the first link be “The End of the World”—letting immediately to the banality of Wilson on his couch.

The writing is often really sharp here. I was especially impressed by some of the clever figurative language and internal dialogue. I laughed out loud right away at the musing upon bad sushi on page two. At the same time, although Orange can clearly write very fine prose, there’s also a lot of proes that feels like it badly needs polishing. Formulaic language abounds here, and I just know it could be honed with another pass. Ditto for basic proofreading and punctuation stuff. The dialogue punctuation and capitalization in particular needs work.
The biggest strength of this story was its imagery. The image of Laszlo covered in shields, for example, is an almost Dante-like metaphorizing of emotion, and that’s perfect for this story. In fact, I think the description does so much of the work, that the story could almost eliminate pointing out the metaphors explicitly. I get it! I don’t need to be told “I wasn’t in denial, I was in a cave of shields.”

The game is best when it is presenting emotional things to us and letting us consider it and interpret it. The “flashback” scene on the beach is a good example of this, and even though I didn’t need to be told “grief is a lifelong process…” in the last page before the end game, the narrator has a light enough touch here that it didn’t bother me.

In general, the choice structure was spot on. The deaths were generally reasonable consequences and make the reader ponder the metaphysical stuff here—do you reason with a god of flame and wrath and fear?

I thought overall this was a solid game with a very fine core idea, which could benefit tremendously from revision, tightening up some of the exposition and polishing the prose.
-- Gower on 9/19/2019 9:03:09 AM with a score of 0
The overall length of this storygame (23,000 words) made me want to find ways to like it, but several flaws kept getting in my way.

First off, congrats for putting together so much content -- and for a contest, too, when the celebrated trend here is to whip together something half-assed in the final 48 hours.

But the tone was just completely wrong, and the villains were just... uninteresting.

The brother-and-sister duo just did nothing for me. On the branch I read, they spend their time walking through the streets filled with carnage in their self-involved bubbles, like refugees from a second-rate Seinfeld episode. Either they're cracking bad jokes, or they're engaging in awkward heart-to-heart moments at the completely wrong moments.

As I was reading along, I kept drawing parallels to a genuine urban tragedy: imagine these same two twits walking along the streets of downtown Manhattan on September 11, 2001, with people jumping to their deaths around them until finally the buildings collapse in a horrific cloud. "Hey, no one is watching this Starbuck. Come get a sandwich while they're still fresh!" They'd deserve their debilitating death by lung cancer.

And then the villains. The problem with using gods as the driving force of evil in a story is that by definition they are so one-dimensional. A god is someone who has one (and only one) character trait, so a storyteller has to work extra hard to make them interesting. Here we meet gods and goddesses of discord (any social media commentary intended there?), grief, anxiety, and death, and each seems to exist for a single purpose: to stand in the way of the reader reaching a meaningful ending.
-- Bill_Ingersoll on 9/17/2019 9:56:48 PM with a score of 0
This was a significant amount of content, and I appreciate the effort that went into creating this. As far as I can see, the game is an exploration of various emotions personified via Greek gods in a chaotic setting, and the author genuinely cares that people understand the various mental challenges a person faces while growing up.

Unfortunately, I have major issues with the story. For a Greek image, Penthos has a frustrating modern vocabulary of insults (cuck is pretty much a late 2016 thing), and his motivations/machinations are alarmingly flimsy. From what I can gather from the opening, the protagonist should have been really distanced from reality (apocalpytic curtains and all), and should have had no chance in the outside world. In that scenario, him acceding to his sister's impulses to effectively beat everything down like it were a video game boss is outright jarring.

It was far more likely that the Protagonist would have begged her to stay, or teamed up with Laszlo to restrain her (going alone is pretty much a certain death sentence in crises situations). Furthermore, the divine interventions lack a certain degree of challenge. For example, with Moro, the correct options are obvious, not even camouflaged. The Quiz section which is meant to generate guilt falls very flat, because you're more concerned about answering a pop quiz and being frustrated about the answers (which I'm fairly sure people would not know outside of intentionally pausing the game and googling, breaking immersion) than experiencing the risk of grief/failure. Further, this is a medium where going 'back' and retrying is painless, so fail states are pretty toothless. The newscasters were not executed well, I can never imagine, under any circumstances them delivering the lines they did in the story (both at the start and in one of the endings), they have absolutely no motivation to cover up the events that would have happened, and seem to do so more from the author's guiding hand than real life logic.

What I'm saying is that the execution does not match the intention. I did like the Eris segment - the gore made me wince for it was well written- except for the way in which you were to complete it- the solution was downright obvious, a better version was the 24x click puzzle later, but twice in one game would have been a chore, so an alternative implementation would have been better. Making the player find the solution to challenges throughout their actions could have be done better (say exploring and finding a guidebook in the protag's house about depression would have been fair and decent character building) would have been better design. I cannot deny the good intention behind this game, but I personally did not enjoy the execution, and I hope I've been able to leave fair feedback to help the author in that perspective. Additionally, links to resources on depression and other symptoms would not have been out of place in this story, in case the author wants to add them in later.
-- StrykerL on 5/4/2017 10:35:48 AM with a score of 0
"Kill Wilson (24x)
Wilson couldn't betray his sister, especially not after what she had just told him. For the twenty-third time, he pressed the only button he knew he could: kill Wilson. He wasn't surprised at all when Thanatos announced that both him and Mariah had survived another hour.

"What are you doing?" hissed Mariah, "you're supposed to vote for me, remember?"

"I'm sorry, but I just...I couldn't do that."

They both sat down on the hard concrete and sat there in silence; the day had been so long and tiresome. "Next time," Mariah murmured, "next time, you have to kill me."

After exactly an hour had passed, Thanatos showed up again, "I cannot believe you actually did this. It's been 24 hours: a full day. You just beat the 'Spend the Day With Me Game' by spending the day with me. Well, you can enter the castle now, I suppose."

With that, Thanatos disappeared. Mariah and Wilson looked at each other in shock then, for the second time, each grabbed one of the door's handles and opened the door. Once the doors were open, they walked into the castle hand in hand.

Epilogue- Meeting Grief
An old graying man with watery eyes walked slowly into the great hall Wilson and Mariah found themselves in. "Wilson, Mariah," said the man, "I've been waiting for you."

Mariah snapped, "who the hell are you?!"

The graying man walked right up to them, giving Wilson a whiff of sweet smelling perfume. The man spoke in a voice that reminded him of someone who just stopped crying, "who am I? I'm the most universal yet most personal feeling of all. I show up when a loved one dies or when you learn you're terminally ill. I'm there when you lose something or someone you value. I am grief. I am Penthos."

Wilson started, "What? I thought...I thought Thanatos was...."

"You thought that dumbass Thanatos was in charge of this apocalypse? That's because you don't know how to see anything other than what you expect to see. You figured there's a lot of death so in your shit-filled mind, obviously the god of death had everything to do with it. Please, death is is a tool that I use for my ultimate goal."

Wilson was disgusted, "ultimate goal? What could that be?"

Mariah continued his thought, "Taking over the world? Killing everyone?"

Penthos was taken aback, "killing everyone?! Why would I ever do such a fuckin thing?! Killing everyone wouldn't cause grief. Death isn't inherently sad; you humans are the ones who created grief, created me. If everyone was dead, there'd be nobody left to mourn. Nobody would give a shit! Well, that's not what we're here to talk about, are we?"

Mariah yelled, "we're here to end the end of the world! You got a problem with that?"

"I'm afraid that's not going to happen, only Zeus can do something that fucking bitchy. I allowed you to live this long because there's one thing I noticed: neither of you felt any grief on your journey here. What the hell?! The entire point of this apocalypse was to inflict grief, pain, and suffering into all, but you two, you two evaded this way too well. As the ringleader of the apocalypse, I feel it is my duty to show you assholes a bit of grief. Without further ado..."

Penthos snapped his fingers and suddenly a body appeared on the ground in front of Wilson and Mariah's feet. Laszlo laid out in he starfish position, arms and legs stretched out. Wilson let out a small gasp as he noticed the dagger sticking out from his stomach. He knelt down and checked Laszlo's pulse. His hand was clenched and cold as ice. Dead, and for a while, too. Wilson felt dizzy, as if the whole world had stopped turning, but he had forgotten to stop turning with it. He looked over at Mariah, she was crouched down at Laszlo's side, sobbing and holding his cold dead hand.

Penthos smiled wide, "I fucking knew I could make you feel grief. I feel good knowing this apocalypse was worth the fuck ton of work it took. Well Zeus, I know you've been watching and waiting, I think it's time to forcibly take me and end this apocalypse now."

A flash of lighting and rumble of thunder crashed into the room. Wilson snapped his head up to look for Penthos, but he was already gone. He looked back at Mariah, "come on, let's take Laszlo and go home. The apocalypse must be over by now, so we succeeded, huh? It looks like Penthos was waiting for us to feel grief before he would allow himself to be taken away."

Mariah stood up on shaky legs, "I wonder what the rest of the world is up to right now?"

"Probably trying to come rescue us."

"But I mean, how do you think the news would react to actual gods taking over Seattle and killing the majority of the population. They'd freak!"

Wilson couldn't help but laugh, "channel five news here. Warning, warning, it appears the entire Seattle area is covered in Ancient Greek gods killing humans left and right. According to a recent poll, despite our hours upon hours of live footage, 97.3% of our viewers believe we're making this whole apocalypse thing up. These low ratings have made us conclude that we shouldn't talk about this ever again, even if the entire city of Seattle is destroyed. Thank you for your patience. Now Bob, with the weather."

Mariah and Wilson burst out laughing, much needed after the day and a half of constant fear while surrounded by death. Then they looked over at Laszlo. Mariah started, "if only he came with us."

Wilson gave her some advice, "Let's give him, and the whole deceased population in this city, proper funerals. Come on, we have a lot of cleaning up to do if we really want to save the day."

Yup, this game is HARD alright. Had to click the same damn selection button 24 times to finally get to one of the three Epilogues. But seriously, I see a serious logical flaw and error in the sequential order of events that happen in this game. Why would Wilson refuse to stare at the God of Doom yet chose to kill himself 24 times? Is that not 'doom' for himself in a sense? Makes no sense?
-- TestingJest on 11/30/2017 12:00:03 AM with a score of 0
I like this it is kind of cool.
-- thestoryman22 on 6/22/2017 7:54:09 PM with a score of 0
was gucci
-- greg on 6/9/2017 9:45:09 AM with a score of 0
Wow. This story was really packed with gore and action. I loved it. This story had a touch of greek mythology and it was PERRRFEECT! There weren't that many mistakes but otherwise I loved this book. Great job.
-- DiniTheWizard on 5/18/2017 4:08:28 PM with a score of 0
What a creative story! Rushed at (many) parts and lacking the narration you're clearly capable of, the idea behind the story was very exciting.
-- march5th00 on 5/10/2017 2:32:52 AM with a score of 0
Nice, I really enjoy this...
Especially how you describe how the dead body look like and iy maje wanna throw up...
-- LOLiHAVEnoFACE on 5/2/2017 5:43:33 AM with a score of 0
I enjoyed it. Would have loved it if it were a bit longer and perhaps less linear.
-- EZunmaker on 4/30/2017 10:01:27 PM with a score of 0
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