Player Comments on The Drunk Explorer Inn
I’ll begin with a disclaimer: To the author, take everything I mention with a grain of salt; I’m no master when it comes to writing, nor am I a seasoned reviewer (yet). As for readers, beware of spoilers galore. Do yourselves a favor and read the storygame first.
Two storygames in a month? Ogre, your productivity is through the roof! I also have to applaud you for reworking an old contest storygame - whenever I try to make changes to any of mine, I end up either bored or cringing at my previous work, wanting to delete everything I’ve written.
Just a side-note: I’m reading this without having read the previous storygame (Tales from an Inn) so if I miss any references, this is probably why.
Right from the start, I’m immersed inn the setting (pun inntended… sorry, couldn’t resist). Ogre’s descriptions are vivid and instantly set the scene, creating a grounded feel to the world of the story, and it’s done so nicely that it makes me pity our resident imaginationless CYS member. Many of the scenes play out like a movie in my head which is testament to how well they’re written. The ‘show don’t tell’ technique is well utilized to show the impacts of the war rather than merely stating it in an infodump manner. Along with this, it’s used to further develop the main character too!
While I often struggle to write in 3rd person pov because the narrator seems detached from the narrative, Ogre does this brilliantly. Zorek is well characterized, has a backstory that influences his thoughts and actions, and is realistically portrayed. His thoughts are shown too, sometimes in an almost ‘stream-of-consciousness but all relevant to the plot’ way. Third person limited, I think it’s called. I like the great way Ogre handles pacing and the revealing of information — even on the first page, the flow of the narrative is humorous in that it reveals Zorek’s grand plans to brew beer before mentioning he has practically no experience whatsoever. This further characterizes him as someone overly optimistic and leads readers to wonder whether his plans to unite the two kingdoms is misguidedly optimistic. It’s also a great set-up for comedy (which is a genre Ogre’s pretty good at).
The juxtaposition between Zorek’s naive positivity and the dangers of this world — more evident in some endings than others — is done refreshingly well, especially when considering how his experiences in the war didn’t taint his ability to view the world with rose-tinted glasses. It’s a great way to show that characters aren’t always products of their environment even when affected by it. This contrast extends to several other characters too, and so, by comparison, Zorek’s positive attributes are even more visible when represented by character foils. It’s a feature of a number of endings — the side characters being unmotivated, violent, or uncooperative could lead to Zorek’s failure of building his inn even when he’s done all he can.
Speaking of humor, I usually find it irritating when characters repeat themselves a lot, but I like it when it’s used as a comedic device. For instance, the character of Folcard. His conversation with Zorek reminds me of Wonderland-esque dialogue. It comprises of double negatives and oxymorons and absolute confidence in one’s own absurd phrasing. I laughed. Seems like it was fun to write.
Situational humor is used too, like in the sentence, “He found a log and took a seat. The log collapsed under him, and he fell on the ground.” Not only does this tell me about the character, and the fragility of logs in the setting, but it makes me chuckle too. Then there’s the whole bandit situation which I wouldn’t spoil for future readers, and it had a really funny plot twist with a great build-up especially since I can imagine this sort of thing happening in real life. (Also, there’s a character called Jerry introduced right after this scene, and while it might be me overthinking, I like the idea that Ogre ‘jerry-ed’ at the woman’s interpretation of the situation through his writing in a way similar to CYS discord culture).
I enjoy reading the dialogue in this storygame. There’s a lot of fun conversations, where each character’s personality shines through the things they say, and Ogre mastered the art of using dialogue to quicken the pace and show character motivations. It’s also great as a device to establish the lighthearted tone of this story.
Minor nitpick: There are instances where pacing is slowed to provide lots of details about the environment. While this can be good for describing an important setting or if the main character has a specific personality trait that requires them to observe scenery in detail, if done too often, it might lead to readers skimming past these paragraphs to continue the main plot. I’m definitely guilty of doing this a lot (over-describing, I meant, not skimming— wait, actually, I do that very often too). One way to improve this could be to advance the plot through description - for example, by raising questions in the reader’s minds (show unusual things about the setting to pique their curiosity), escalating the stakes (make the setting dangerous), or adding suspense (describing things in a way that causes them to feel uneasy).
Symbolism! The page titled ‘the crossroads’ was indeed the first branching point in the storygame. Maybe it’s the student in me, but I enjoy noticing details like this for some reason. Edit: Also, the crossroads are used to signify different paths in all of the major choices in the game, which is a really cool little detail I just wanted to point out.
At parts, this story almost reads like a version of folklore (e.g. the fairy circle! I’m glad I recognized it when reading). Then there’s the continuous emphasis placed on detailing the environment — is highlighting the beauty of nature a subtheme in this storygame? — interspersed with moments of Wonderland-like humor (e.g. yesn’t). Ironically, even though it’s written in third person, there’s a very personal tone to the story in that a lot of it features the inner thoughts, ideas, and visions of the protagonist, aka the “idle meanderings of his brain”, even more so than some second-person or first-person action-driven stories. It makes sense in a story focused on a personal quest possibly leading to an individual’s growth and development.
The choices are all fair and reasonable in the context of each situation. For instance, death scenes would be foreshadowed by the character’s lack of experience in a situation, or the subtle signs of danger a certain choice holds. This makes for a well-written story where the plot is character-driven rather than random things just happening the the protagonist.
Tiny nitpick: Sometimes, the choices begin with an action, while other times, it starts with ‘Zorek’. Maybe it’s because the third person limited pov, but I find it slightly jarring after picking verb choices which puts the reader in the place of the character (e.g. take charge) to see a choice that mentions the character’s name (e.g. Zorek does x and y). But that’s probably just me being pointlessly pedantic.
Ogre has a talent of simplifying difficult concepts. Something I’ve struggled with when researching for writing is that I’d add in slight info-dumps to show the reader, hey look, here’s a bunch of interesting information only loosely relevant to the plot. But it’s in character that concepts like brewing are simplified for Zorek, a complete beginner, and the reader isn’t going to be overwhelmed by technical terms or the like. (And I’ve come to hate the overuse of technical terms after spending 6 hours straight on a university assignment where the authors of the things we had to read decided to write in a manner that can only be described as ‘write everything in the most confusing way possible that only those with prior knowledge or extensive research can understand what I’m saying’, so it was a reprieve/ repose (I keep mixing those words up) to read this storygame as a way to rest from that). Hmm maybe I should hide more mini-rants in long comments to see how many people read them.
I’m not entirely sure about my thoughts on the ending. It’s certainly not what I expected, truth be told. Or maybe I just watch too many comedy films with incompetent protagonists achieving their goals with the power of being protected by the plot. Perhaps I’d have preferred a more satisfying conclusion for the protagonist, but now, thinking about the foreshadowing with all the setbacks and details about Zorek’s misplaced optimism despite his ignorance about building an inn, it does fit in with the theme of the story. If I may suggest something else, it would be nice to have references of earlier choices in the denouement kind of like delayed consequences (e.g. the people you chose to spent time with are the same people that help you build the inn in the end), but then again, that would change the ending and possibly theme quite drastically, so maybe not. It’s a nice story of character development as Zorek is forced to discover the brutal difference between the world of his daydreams and the harshness of reality.
Anyway, I certainly enjoyed playing this storygame! It was a great way to get out of my reading rut, so thank you, Ogre :)
CYSpost message: This review was delayed by the… um, ‘mail’ and the intended date of posting was 2 days ago. Might be a bit late now, but I’m glad this storygame is ranked.
And for potential readers who for some reason choose to read spoilered reviews before the storygame (why?), do give this one a read. As to be expected of Ogre’s games, it's fun, amusing, and well-written.
on 10/7/2022 6:05:11 AM with a score of 0
Well, Ogre did it again by producing a highly entertaining story!
This story was fun to play, and had a good variety of choices and endings. The writing was excellent, and provided good description as well as keeping a consistent atmosphere throughout the story. Many times CYOAs have choices that seem illogical or that don't seem to fit the character in the story - This story has none of that. Here, the narrative is strong, and every choice seems to fit logically into the characters and overall story.
I really enjoyed the characterization in this story. Zorek, being a dreamer with no real idea how to accomplish his dream, is a fun character to follow along with on his adventures. He has no real aptitude for what he set out to do, and no training or plan to get there, but he has a dream (and daydreams) of the final product running smoothly and is on a quest to try and make it happen. Zorek is flawed, and knows it, but keeps trying hard, which makes me want to continue to try and help him get to his goal. The supporting characters are also rounded out well for the parts that they play.
I am not sure if I hit all the endings, so I will play a few more times to see what else I can find. This game was one of my favorites from Ogre.
Overall, definitely recommend playing this storygame.
on 10/5/2022 11:00:31 AM with a score of 0
I really liked this story. It has a lot of entertainment value and certainly kept me interested enough that I just sorta had to find every ending. I’m pretty sure that I did, but it was fun enough that there’s a very good chance I would play it again. Onto the specifics of what made it great.
When I saw the 1/8 for difficulty and immediately led ol’ Zorek to his death on his search for water, I quickly realized that he was never going to get his Inn/Tavern/Brewery. This is likely a point that will upset some readers who are use to “winning,” but I see it as one of the main strengths of the story. Zorek has no clue what goes into building or running a business of this scale. If he were to succeed with the characterization given, it could only be through blind luck or conveniently revealed strengths. The failure is much more realistic. It’s probably also more merciful (assuming he lives) than Zorek ending up with the tavern and watching it crumble under his mismanagement.
I definitely also like the fact that Zorek has no idea what he’s doing. I have no idea what goes into brewing alcohol, running an inn, dealing with bandits, etc., so any decision I make is perfectly in character for Zorek. That’s something that is very important in a story game. When I make a terrible decision, the game doesn’t make me feel like an idiot, it makes me feel like Zorek and I are idiots.
You also managed humor in a way that is not meme-like or random. That’s extremely difficult to do in my experience, and you do it well. I found the ending where the wagon train devolved into warring political factions particularly funny. Even the ending where the brewer beat you to death just for trying to get him to brew ale in a small barrel was funny in a black humor kind of way.
The narrative voice was also great. The lines at the endings where the narrator questions your decisions, comments on Zorek’s death, or anything of the sort are short, to the point, and usually light enough to make the reader want to try again.
I’m only including critiques because I feel like there needs to be one or two in every review. Even with that in mind, the only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the Full Metal Jacket reference, and even that is a matter of taste. This is simply a great story. Well done.
on 10/5/2022 9:47:25 AM with a score of 0
Word of advice, first i think if there was less story and more choices it could improve it better. Second i think that the player needs to be the main character, first person playing. But overall it was fun and I hope you make more games for us to play. : )
on 9/22/2022 3:48:10 PM with a score of 0
I thought that this was a very different trope than some other types, the fantastical medieval style is diffidently something I'm not too used to seeing but then again, some people play those kinds of games all the time so what do it know. my favorite character was Zorek mostly because of his backstory, I think that the war history was a bold and creative move especially because with the warzone giving him some training in a way for his ale brewing adventures is a brilliant move that I just got hooked on from the start. if you are the type of reader who likes fantastical adventures then you will get a kick out of this one.
on 9/17/2022 5:21:20 PM with a score of 0
I got an ending in which I froze to death. No complaints here, and the journey to reach that unfortunate destination was interesting.
Congrats on having two back-to-back story entries on the new games list. Your productivity is to be admired. Certainly this one is the more 'choicey' of the two works you've just recently published.
on 9/17/2022 3:00:25 PM with a score of 0
It's hard to get used to a story like this told in the third person but this is pretty good, I'll come back abs read the rest later. I like all of this authors work.
on 9/2/2022 9:59:12 AM with a score of 0