Unbroken

a Fantasy Adventure by ninjapitka

Commended by mizal on 3/16/2020 11:51:06 PM

Player Rating7.13/8

"#87 overall, #1 for 2020"
based on 53 ratings since 03/16/2020
played 1,419 times (finished 66)

Story Difficulty5/8

"run through the jungle"

Play Length6/8

"It'll be a while, better grab a Snickers®"

Maturity Level6/8

"I'll need to see some identification"
Some material may be inappropriate for persons under age 16. If this were a movie, it would probably between PG-13 and R.
There is no escaping our nature. It simply exists. The voice within me, the one that causes me to commit terrible deeds, burns a low ember. Still, it remains, always present, always looking for fuel to burn. It wants to escape. I feel its lust. It wants to devour. This day is no different. I must battle the darkness within. Author's note: In various sections, you will be given the option to view a simultaneous event happening in the story. While not directly affecting you, the reader's path, they may create a more cinematic feel to the story. Originally written as the last page for Sixteen Words, I hope you enjoy my full adaptation of Contemplation.

Player Comments

Let me start this review with the fact that this is one of the rare novels I’ve not skimmed through at certain parts, both on the site and in more conventional reading. Also, I’d like to point out the fact that this review will probably contain spoilers, so just read the darn story first.

Alright, with that out of the way, I’d like to start with the writing style. It’s not flowery, serves as a supporting pillar where the plot and pace rest on. It’s a solid work where the words give way to the story, unobtrusively allow you to paint the picture yourself. I like that a lot.

It’s also clearly been proofread and edited multiple times. There’s been two little spelling mistakes, both on the Seth path. That’s two little mistakes in a 63k word count, impressive. Much like the plot, the sentences themselves flow really well. It gives the story the pace it needs to make those words fly you by.

The protagonist at times reminds me of Ender. He’s shaped by the monks through brutal discipline to become a lethal weapon. And much like Ender, he becomes a solitary figure, not allowing himself to get to close to any other character, save for his childhood friend/sister/love, Kassi.

The other characters are thus relatively flat, something that fit within the narrative. The protagonist counters that with an internal struggle. The curse in his blood gradually builds up as the story progresses, with most branches ending in a choice you make in how far you are willing to go to resolve that. The struggle between discipline and urges is made fantastical and personified in this story, but something that on a smaller scale exists within all of us.

It is made fantastical because it is a fantasy story. From the first page, you are confronted with the fact magic, and other scary beings exist in this universe. The world expands in a seeming cliché of an evil empire invading the good kingdom, complete with dragons and all. Yet on certain paths, you’re confronted with those beautiful shades of gray. People are struggling to survive and no ruler is untarnished.

I also really enjoyed the way magic was handled. It was present enough to make it feel it had an impact on the world. Most spellcasters themselves felt like forces of nature. Yet it didn’t overstep its bounds. The story progressed without some sort of deus ex magica being needed.

The action is well done. The fighting scenes, and there were a lot, were described with detail, without feeling they held up the scene itself. While at some parts it descended in the simple parry, counter, hit, I felt the action was one of the big highlights.
I also enjoyed the fact that the true history behind your curse is spread over different paths. Some sinister urge on one path was explained in passing in another, revealed in a third.

After the good comes the bad. It was clear the author had a story to tell and told it in several variations. To keep the pacing of the plot, the author severely bottlenecked his paths, where they usually only split near the final pages.

While the first read it was a blast, a reread revealed that most choices had no impact on the progression. If you leave out the fake choices and cinematic scenes, which on their own are a terrific idea I’m sure to steal, you’re met with three main paths. While this allowed the paths to be long, of novel-length individually, the storygame as a whole felt limited.

Overall I felt the feature in such a heavily contested genre was well deserved and I thoroughly enjoyed the read. 7/8.
-- enterpride on 4/10/2020 3:41:03 PM with a score of 0
When I saw mizal's post about this story, I knew I was in for a treat. What I didn't realize at the time was just how good a treat I was going to be getting. This story exceeded my expectations in so many ways. The overarching story was interesting and complex, the characters were well developed, and the quality of the prose left little to be desired. For those of you who have yet to read this amazing story, stop reading now and just do it. There are a great many spoilers ahead.

The fantasy elements are woven quite nicely into the story. From the very start, we know that this world is going to be different from our own. Within the first chapter, we are introduced to the idea of sprits and shades, as well as the magic system, all of which come to play later in the story. The interesting thing about this particular story, however, is that the fantasy elements are not the sole focus of the story. (At least, not until we get close to the end). When they're not relevant to the plot, they kind of fade into the background, allowing the main plot involving the war between the empire and the old kingdom to come into the spotlight. So far as I can tell, there are only three major differences between our world and the world of the story: spirits, magic, and wyverns. While the appearance of other fun fantasy creatures such as are always a delight, I feel that for this particular story, limiting things to these three elements might have been the right choice, as anything more might've distracted from the plot itself.

There are a lot of clever little things that really make this story shine. For one thing, I quite liked the little asides at the beginning of each chapter detailing the player character's thoughts. They provided a nice glimpse into their head, giving us a better picture of the way they think. The little bits of philosophy sprinkled in here were quite fun to read as well. I, for one, like to hear a character's musings on the concept of fate and the like.

Another cool little thing I'd like to point out is the way the first chapter subverted my expectations. I thought for sure we were heading for a tournament arc; you even gave us a choice of what event we'd get to compete in. So imagine my surprise when I was instead thrown headlong into an ambush by this big evil empire. This was almost certianly a more interesting turn of events than what might otherwise have followed: a series of repetitive fights after which I would inevitably have been chosen to join the king's army. I'm sure the author would've pulled it off either way, but I still think he made the right choice.

One last clever little detail I can't help but point out was the use of duplicate links when the player character was possessed. Something about it really helped drive home the fact that there really was no choice in the matter, far more than if there'd been just one.

I only have a couple of minor gripes I'd like to throw out there. There were a few endings I felt didn't quite give much closure. Specifically, the exile and crippled mentor endings. With the exile ending, I would've liked to know what became of the player character after they left the forest. Did they settle down and have kids? Continue fighting the empire? Get consumed by the darkness inside them and kill Kassi? A short epilogue would've answered these questions easily.

The Crippled Mentor ending felt incomplete, because I don't buy that the emperor would stop hunting the player character after they directly defied his orders and killed the men he sent to stop them. How can they be willing to train a little girl, and possibly put her in danger in the process? She'd be guilty by association if they ever found out she was being trained by the player. I understand that this might've been harder to fix though, so I understand why it was left the way it was.

My other problem with this story is that there are quite a few sections without any meaningful choices that don't immediately end the game or simply provide a little extra exposition. It would've been cool to have a little bit of branch and bottleneck in those sections to make us feel like we're still in control. I get that this was a pretty hefty story as it is though, so I understand this is kind of a lot to ask. I also don't want to give the impression that there's no branching at all; there certianly is. A lot of people probably wouldn't even care about this so much; I know I still enjoyed the story regardless, but I figured I'd bring it up for the sake of those who do.

All in all, seriously a great story. I wouldn't be surprised if this one wind up becoming number one for 2020. This is truly some 8/8 storytelling, so I hope it gets the recognition it deserves.
-- jster02 on 3/25/2020 10:05:57 PM with a score of 0
As always with comments watch out, because there are spoilers ahead.

At first I want to tell you that this was truly one of the best stories I read on this website. I think the last time I was so captivated in a story was while reading through "Eternal".

As is usual for me, since I am no grammar pro, I did not find any mistakes disrupting the flow. I did spot like 2 typos but nothing that is making your grammar bad at all. I certainly could not achieve such a correctness myself.

I did notice also that some choices had no real consequences on the story itself. They seemed to be there just to tell you different sides of scenes but not to actually have a bigger influence.

The main branches always split of at the end of a chapter. That is nothing bad in my opinion. In fact that is also something I tend to do when I write something here. It makes the general overview of the story easier for me.

The paths themselves were very captivating in my opinion. I was always able to feel myself immersed in the character and also truly feel that internal struggle between the characters beliefs and the dark spirit. Those pages with the same choice twice really gave a feel for that helplessness in your own body you tried to achieve.

The way how you described the magic and also the history behind that dark spirit, by putting the information into different paths, always giving you only part of the full truth within one branch made replaying the game very exciting and made me hunger for more information as soon as I finished one branch.

This story definitely deserves to be featured and you created a great piece of writing with a real novel like feel to it. Well deserved 8/8 from me.
-- LJacko on 5/7/2020 6:57:36 AM with a score of 0
This was amazing! I honestly enjoyed it a lot! It was a wonderful story line and plot. I don't think I have ever read anything like this and would absolutely recommend it to others! :)
-- Kiki on 4/30/2020 7:32:23 PM with a score of 0
This was an excellent piece of writing, by one of the best writers on this site. The story describes an intriguing world, and it populated with thoughtful characters. It does borrow a bit from Star Wars mythology (there was a scene that I couldn't help but compare to Palpatine seducing Annakin over to the Dark Side, down to the physical description of the Palpatine-equivalent character) but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

If I had an observation to make, it would that I didn't get a strong sense of the central issue of this story -- i.e., the Big Problem that everybody wants to resolve.

There is a protagonist with a mysterious origin story, there is an Empire that everybody dislikes, apparently even some of the people who act as its agents (the Empire struck me as the embodiment of mediocrity rather than evil, BTW), there are powerful spirits that are by turns deceitful AND helpful, there is a king I want to like... but he seems to be a chronic drunk, and at any rate when his pride is wounded his first instinct is to banish me, so I guess it wasn't heart-wrenching when [CENSORED TO AVOID SPOILERS].

But for me, these elements didn't quite gel together into as compelling a story as this could've been. The Protag's virtues struck me as a given, and nothing seemed to be at stake for him. With few exceptions, the choices weren't that weighty, and as a result I didn't feel as engaged in the story as I should be something of this caliber.

Still, this is a high-quality story, deserving of its featured status. Good work!
-- Bill_Ingersoll on 4/28/2020 8:49:41 PM with a score of 0
I really enjoyed this story. Excellent job and keep up the good work!
-- Yandeleon on 4/1/2020 5:34:50 PM with a score of 0
First off, this story was very enticing. The tone the author has used to describe the events taking place was just the right amount, not too serious but at the same time not too playful. Just the right amount to keep me focused on the story and on the plot the entire time without blinking an eye. The second thing I liked a lot was the character development, via the wonderful used of dialogue. The dialogues from the story could be used as a template referencing how dialogue should actually be written in stories. The dialogues deeply reflected the personalities of all of the characters, even down to the most insignificant guard guarding the carriage who gets knocked out in the end. The best part about that is that, (spoilers ahead) when Kass actually dies, I really felt that pang of guilt and remorse. I felt like I could feel the guilt and trepidation of the protag as my one. So much so, that I was compelled to go back and get the 'exiled together' ending after my first playthrough. The unarmed combat was surprisingly extremely accurate, and it clearly shows that the author has prior MMA experience, or has used MMA training manuals for reference since the unarmed combat scenes described accurate technique and maneuvers; from the way one goes from top position to an arm bar by creating an opening in the opponent's guard via pushing down a leg in one scene, to how a heavier opponent can attempt to overthrow a lighter one on the ground for advantage in another, and a lot more.

Combine realistic combat with fantasy and magic, and you have a balanced combat system that most writers struggle a lot to achieve.

On the other hand, I kinda have a gripe with the swordplay in this one though. Now I'm not saying it was bad, it was very engaging and the descriptions were visually arresting too; but it felt a bit unrealistic. Like, for example the guerrilla warfare depicted in the forest scene to me really was trying to show the protag's agility to inhuman levels. I mean, heck that could be a part of the plot because he was trained to be a monk and all. Don't take this seriously though, its just my personal taste, so take it with a pinch of salt.

There's another issue though. The part where you side with Vishal(love the use of the name btw) just ends abruptly. I was honestly expecting a bit more, even if it would result in me just being "a thorn in the side of the emperor" like, maybe the author could've described the sabotages. Maybe added a scene where we get a chance to assassinate the emperor as he's travelling by ship, or carriage to make it more relevant. I mean, even if it was gonna result in death in the end, that could've been described better.

Also I've noticed you following this similar restriced-ish form of choices used in most of your works Ninja. I feel like if you want to make this more interactive than just a type of interactive movie, you should add more branches(hypocritical coming from me, because I lack in that department myself). A more choice for the player, even if its just a false choice and it won't change the narrative. More choices for the little things that could result in death, like you could provide a set of tactics you could ask the player to choose and one of them results in an untimely death, while the others move the plot forward. That could manage to make it more than just an interactive movie, and like an actual interactive game.

Anyway, keep up the good work! I enjoyed my time reading this, so thanks for the effort you put in.
-- ShoujoAddict on 3/29/2020 5:27:04 PM with a score of 0
I liked this story very much :D It had an interesting setting, well-presented characters and a nice story-arc with a clear beginning, middle and end coupled with a decent amount of branching worth exploring. I didn't spot any grammar or spelling mistakes which is always nice and the story was an enjoyable read with the choices genuinely feeling meaningful :) Great Work!
-- Will11 on 3/17/2020 8:14:05 PM with a score of 0
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