Player Comments on True Life
Well, dang! This is the first of Ninja’s stories I have read, and I see now that I have done myself a great disservice in waiting this long. This story is certainly not what I expected it to be, and that greatly enhanced my experience. After reading it, the title is brilliant.
I would have to say that this story feels extremely close to literature grade stuff. It feels like something I used to find reading the stories in a literature textbook that were never assigned. The story is about as modern as any I have read on this site so far. When I say “modern,” I don’t just mean the setting either. This story feels extremely twenty first century, but in a cutting edge, original kind of way both in plot and language.
Most stories focus of the hopes and potential of a person, whether good or bad, and build from there. This does something else entirely. This is actually a very complex story thematically, and I’m afraid that I will not do it justice, but it seems to me that the theme is that of struggling against one’s nature. It’s this that humanizes all the characters, yet their natures are much different than one would expect. They’re not people exactly, but “types” of people. Each one is a lesson to be learned.
Whether it was intended or not, though I rather expect it was, the story is littered with existential musings and leaves one deep in thought.
All in all, I definitely recommend this story.
Every character was a work of brilliance. I enjoyed them all, so I’ll just analyze the key players and demonstrate what I liked about them.
Andrew Richards is the focus of this story. That’s not to say that the protagonist is not characterized. The protagonist is handled brilliantly, but one could almost say that Andrew Richards is the story. Andrew Richards is a murderer, and he murdered his wife no less. It seems that this story has captured something of the zeitgeist in America at least (maybe more countries, I wouldn’t know). The amount of true crime entertainment is a testament to that. I wouldn’t want to say that the story being about a murderer is quite what makes the story so impactful though. It’s a field trip through the mind of a coherent maniac. Thus, it seems to become a story that creates a sense that any one of us could become murders given the right quirks in the right settings.
Andrew Richard’s reminded me of Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days. Every habit is calculated with a care for efficiency. He is also written as an extremely intelligent and calculating character while still holding on to a human, obsessive side. Taking advantage of his characterization is his lover and foil, Beth.
Beth is sick of life going on the same way day after day and is always looking for something new. This is when I really was able to see that the story was much deeper than I was prepared for. I’m not sure whether Ninja intended this or not, but he demonstrated and defied Kierkegaard’s three stages of life. Beth really wanted a meaning in life, and at first, found it is experiences. Søren Kierkegaard would have said that she was in the aesthetic stage and because of my familiarity with Kierkegaard’s work, I guessed the next stage would be either the ethical, or the religious. As made sense with Beth’s character, she did not visit the cerebral ethical stage, but moved to the more experiential religious stage and became a Catholic.
Of course, were this a Kierkegaardian story, it would have ended here, but instead, she continues longing for a high. The religious stage did not cure her despair, but made it even more poignant. Of course, Heaven was the greatest “high.” I won’t go on summarizing, but I will say that Beth’s attitude, assuming Andrew Richard’s is a reliable narrator, was certainly a plot twist that took me by complete surprise.
An then there’s Rosie. I don’t have much to say about her. She was certainly tragic, and also reminded me of all the times I’ve heard or read about women crushing on serial killers or terrorists. Of course, this kind of woman probably isn’t as common as portrayed on the media, but Rosie, her suicide, and the guard’s attitude were all too real.
The protagonist is an interesting character. He almost reminded me of a kind of hard boiled detective. He’s seen a lot and has a sort of street smart way about him. Most of the story features him matching wits with Mr. Richards, and he holds his own easily. In contrast with several other characters, he seems to be an anchor of unspiritual realism, with a kind of sensual edge. He’s not worried about metaphysics, but what’s here and now, like getting his job done.
The writing of the story itself is beautiful. It’s modern without being immature or unrefined. That’s an extremely hard balance to achieve, so color me extremely impressed. There are a few typos and a couple of words don’t have spaces between them, but they don’t detract from the story. The voice of the writer (or the inner voice of the protagonist) comes through beautifully. It’s not just the dialogue, but every sentence of prose lacks a punch.
I also loved the way the story was structured. The interview was great, sustained interpersonal conflict and drove the story. I also like how every branch contributes to the theme. The murder, Rosie, the girl from the bar. They all feature characters trying to escape themselves or their circumstances, but failing.
In summation,the story took a piece of my soul and forced me to examine it. 8/8
on 11/18/2022 11:53:37 PM with a score of 0
Dear Ninjapitka, really romance? Romance? As the biggest hater and consumer of romance stories I really detested the fact that I had to read another story of that cursed corner again thanks to you. I thought I finally was done with it, read very steaming pile of gushy sparkly badly written high school prom games and every "muh girlfriend died and now I'm sad, woe is me" story. Well this game is actually neither, so I was really pleasantly surprised.
True Life actually feels more like a part of a noir detective series than a typical romance story. In the limited descriptions, the reader could easily parse the grimy nature of the setting; the constant mentions of smoke, the weird bleeping thermostat, the bars Andrew often mentions or the drugs. In fact, the romance is not even really shown in person.
Everything about her and their relationship is told by Andrew, her former husband via an interrogation room. So everything he says about her should probably be taken with a heavy hint of skepticism. Throughout the whole story the reader is left to question how much of the truth he's telling to us. For example: did Beth really want to commit suicide? Was she really a drug junky like Andrew said she was? Did Andrew kill Beth as a form of mercy or was it more like a fight looking at their rather tumultuous relationship. The fact that there's not really a second source to fall back on, plus the fact that Andrew REALLY LIKES TO FRIGGIN RAMBLE ABOUT NOTHING makes the truth even harder to parse out.
So I also have to say that I'm a bit jealous that you pulled this kind of concept off better than me hahah. Darn, the emphasis on dialogue, the minimal descriptions and the fact that the basically the whole game takes place in one place with Andrew (not you) being the key narrator. You did this concept so well that I'm not even angry at you. With all these elements together, the whole atmosphere feels very cramped and tense even though all that these fellas do is talk. The fact that we also have so few characters, means that the whole experience feels very intimate.
Now onto route 2 (ha, you thought I was done, sikes), route 2 is a lot shorter and mainly features Julie, A girl you literally meet one second and have a one night stand a second later. Oh yeah, Julie is kind of bland, but that doesn't really matter. This is kind of a short branch and not very noteworthy IF IT'S YOUR FIRST PLAYTHROUGH. What gives this branch meaning, is when you discover in the Andrew route that this protagonist had this relationship with Tiffany and it seems like it didn't work out well. Basically, it is heavily implied that our resident writer is still not over Tiff which is really great and subtle characterization hehe.
All in all, if you want some noir flavoured interrogation scènes and well written dialogue, check this story out. This has my recommendation.
on 11/14/2022 2:00:15 PM with a score of 0
Are you trying to get a featured story-game in every category? Because that just isn’t fair. You've already taken my spot on grim-dark fantasy, and this story-game has too much descriptive writing and branching, and many ways for you to read a unique ending, that I cannot rate it lower than what I feel it is worth, which is like a really good rating.
Why? Because Ninja has made a game that's a bit different than the ones I've read from him that have dark fantasy elements and magical things happening. No, True Life is a story that's realistic and grounded enough for what I think many that read it can see happening to someone on this earth. Be it someone they know personally, or even just some passing acquaintance.
This is a story where the individuals are very flawed and human, but that kind of thing makes for some of the best mature kind of stories. I think history has done more than show us that a statement like that isn’t one that has not a trace of validity to it.
Wow, this comment has become kind of a tangent. So I'm just going to settle my thoughts with saying to anyone that may find their eyes roaming on the page that has this story-game, and if you're able to get a glance of my comment and perhaps read a sentence of it or two..
Read this. It's another work from one of the most talented writers on this website. It will be well worth your time.
on 9/17/2022 2:58:49 PM with a score of 0
Did not like
— Bob on 11/24/2022 10:02:29 PM with a score of 0
Loved it :) This story was short and sweet. Good imagery as per usual. I n e e d more. When’s part 2 coming out?
on 9/23/2022 10:10:54 PM with a score of 0
I will say that this is a pretty linear game, but the story you hear from the murderer is so involving that I can't mark it down for that, 8/8.
on 9/20/2022 7:42:01 AM with a score of 0
I thought that the main story was an overall good one, I can diffidently see how this is a seven out of eight in the maturity level, my favorite character in this was Julie. I didn't to a part where she has a backstory but what I did read was a very interesting and down to earth person who I liked listening to. the overall way that the story was introduced was very seamless and how it just started with the action was very interesting. the language in this story was very literate and I enjoyed when the characters talked to each other because is was so enthralling. if you are the type of reader who likes to listen to poetic interesting writing then this is the one for you.
on 9/17/2022 5:03:05 PM with a score of 0
I only needed to read three words of the description, and I wad sold.
on 9/15/2022 12:35:52 AM with a score of 0