When Johnny Comes Marching Home

a Horror by Deer89

Commended by mizal on 7/15/2020 4:12:20 PM

Player Rating5.21/8

"Too few ratings to be ranked"
based on 17 ratings since 07/05/2020
played 175 times (finished 22)

Story Difficulty5/8

"run through the jungle"

Play Length5/8

"Not going to lose any sleep"

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.
February 7, 1968 You are a hardened Marine Sergeant returning to the jungles of Vietnam in the wake of the Tet Offensive. In command of a new platoon, you ready to face the challenges and horrors of war once more. However, the jungle may contain more secrets and dangers you would expect... Entry for Mizal's Welcome to the Jungle Contest. Special thanks to @enterpride for proof-reading and feedback!

Player Comments

As if Vietnam wasn't traumatic enough for the people who experienced it....

This is an enjoyable storygame, worth the couple hours it takes to flip through the whole thing. There is lots of good "atmosphere," that catch-all term that refers to tone, detail, character, and the like, and there are several notable characters.

Of the two primary paths -- leading your unit vs. getting separated with Bronski -- I think the latter might be more the satisfying, in that it doesn't spoil the mystery with a matter-of-fact explanation. The "Bronski Branch" probably had more true branching, too, whereas the "Platoon" branch (apologies to Oliver Stone) is more "gauntlet" in structure. On the other hand, the interactions with the creatures are more interesting when you encounter them with your platoon, so I guess there's cause to read both branches.

As others have mentioned, the way dialogue is handled here is above average, and very refreshing to see. I sense that Deer89 has seen a lot of the same war movies I have, in particular "Private Ryan" (the FUBAR reference) and "Band of Brothers" (Doc Roe was the medic in Easy Company), and possibly others. This is the extent of my military expertise as well, although there are some details in this storygame that could turn some readers off:

1 - Officers don't salute NCOs and call them "sir." Rather, it's the other way around.

2 - A Marine unit would have a variety of NCOs, not just the single sergeant; there are actually multiple ranks.

3 - There would be no such thing as a "tie" between a lieutenant and a corporal, as it's the officer who gives the orders.

4 - Handcuffing and gagging an officer is not something the enlisted men would take lightly, because it's likely to get them executed.

Again, I'm no more of an expert, but still these were details that bounced me out of the story a little bit. On the other hand, the writing style here is very detail-based, and so I was willing to suspend my disbelief and just go with the story.

In short, this is a great debut for a noob, and I hope Deer89 contributes many more.
-- Bill_Ingersoll on 7/13/2020 7:19:47 PM with a score of 0
This is exactly what I want to see in a storygame--the choices obviously meant something, and showed me what I was missing (which made me want to play again and explore these little side paths.

But aside from the plot, which was fun and energetic and hit the right pacing beats, I really appreciated how it jumped right into the action without clearing its throat first. And the *way* it did that was with snappy dialogue that sounded like it was written by someone who has actually listened to how human beings talk to each other. The dialogue reflected a range of emotions and varying levels of stress without sounding like--well, like a writer trying desperately to figure out how to make the spoken word work in prose. The first page is a great example of dialogue and description working together to create atmosphere, character, and background without being an expository wall of text.

The action was satisfying, but more so, the world and characters that the action was part of was interesting, and that's largely due to the solid writing here.
-- Gower on 7/13/2020 7:01:30 AM with a score of 0
Bronski is such a great character, that guy was cool as heck. And the protagonist was pretty cool himself. Being this grizzled vet riding a chopper into a war zone with a group of newbies he's going to need to try and lead back out of there feels like the opening of a badass Vietnam movie.

The title was a little odd because of course, that's a whole nother war. There was that scene with Bronski telling the story from his grandmother that referenced it, and of course the lyrics themselves popped up on the ending soon after, but I'm not sure it fit the rest of the story aside from the POV character's name.

The actual writing was pretty quality start to finish and drew me right in. I spotted a handful of typos but not enough to detract from the reading experience. (B- for Enterpride.) I'm not very knowledgeable on Vietnam era warfare by any means, so if there's nitpicking to do there I'll have to leave it to someone else. Nothing stood out to me as feeling off though and so this is a nice addition to the site in two genres (modernish warfare and horror itself) that we don't get too many good stories for.

When I realized this was going to be Zombies in Vietnam that made me smile a bit, because if that's not a movie yet it really should be. You really captured the feel of the theme more than a lot of these did in that shit hits the fan, encroaching madness and corruption with every man for himself kind of way, in addition to of course the literal jungle, so points for that.

I was a little let down however by the mundane explanation for everything, and also the fact that it was delivered by some random nerd who then went on to have everybody rescued. That seems to be the ideal ending and yet the main character didn't get to do much besides abandon his own guys. (Yes I know that was supposed to be a kind of redemption scene when later you wouldn't leave Bronski's group behind, but I didn't like that you couldn't at least attempt to carry out the ones with the sickness before you knew what was up. So what if they were thrashing around, it was four guys and you had twenty in good health, just tie them to a stretcher. (...I think those numbers are right? I know you started with twenty five, one was killed by the Green Beret, and four were sick. But of the twenty remaining there were an awful lot of people getting killed at various points after that, it actually seemed like too many died offscreen to work with that number...)

I'd have liked having the option to do a little more defensively when you decide to stay with them as well. That seemed set up as a major branch point and moral choice of the story and it just led to an immediate end. Although I get the deadline may have been a factor, I saw you had variables for both the men and the lieutenant so maybe more had been planned there. (Which may have made the first choice actually matter as well.)

Most of the endings worked well enough, obviously these guys were lucky any time any of them made it out alive. Although 'one with the jungle' seemed like a stretch and I didn't quite follow the motivation for it...also not a big fan of the reveal of Zombies in Vietnam: But They Talk and Make Decisions Now. That wasn't a thing in the other section and was a bit goofy honestly. Although that half of the story did get Bronski's explanation of the Civil War battlegrounds and lent a bit of spookiness and mystery. Maybe I'd have a different impression if I'd gotten that one before talking to the scientist, but 'don't fire randomly at things when you don't know what you're firing at' is such a basic lesson ingrained in everyone who's ever owned a gun, so it was awhile till I went back to explore that choice.

The one thing though that I would say the story was really missing was the 'holy shit, there are zombies' realization. Probably an even bigger deal when it's 'holy shit, there are zombies and we don't even have pop culture to help us understand this because that Romero film doesn't come out for another eight months and we'll be too dead to see it!' Everyone just seems to sort of accept that people are coming back from the dead and not question it either from a scientific or supernatural level except for that one single scene with Bronski I came across later.

But my standard disclaimer applies: I know I did a lot of nitpicking here but ultimately I enjoyed the game and I'm glad it was written. I don't believe we have anything else like this on the site.

-- mizal on 7/12/2020 2:10:28 PM with a score of 0
i thought this was a story of the civil war. but i loved it cuz i think it's accuracy that was great
-- briantimothy on 7/27/2020 4:25:16 AM with a score of 0
This story was really good. I see why it went on to when the noob contest. Out of the ones I have read so far, all of them except the horror one, the writing here is the highest quality. Would I have put it at the top of my list? I'm not exactly sure. Though from a technical standpoint it is really good, espically considering it was written for a contest. I feel it deserves the first place spot, even if it wasn't my of the stories. I'm not even sure if it's my favorite or not. There is one I might have liked more, but I'm not sure.

Now the branching was really good. There were so many endings for the word count. The endings also changed a lot which is good, since varity is very important. I like having a lot of diffrent endings, it keeps the story fresh. The branching also seemed to follow logical choices, Like will you stay with your men or leave them behind. It's better to have choices that would both be made. Unlike having two choices be, walk slowly through the jungle, and rush through the jungle. In that situation we have nothing to go on. In most situations it is better to go slow than fast.

The writing quality was great. The dialouge felt real to me and the prose was great. The writing sucks you in from start to finish, and it didn't really feel like a chore to read like some of the other stories did.

In conclusion this story is great. I really liked it, and it feels compleat. While I would like more in the same setting, I don't think you should flesh out this game any more than it is. It has a sense of closer with the endings, and it is great just how it is.
-- MicroPen on 7/26/2020 12:28:44 AM with a score of 0
Well, this was a really cool spin on what I could only really call a zombie story. Perhaps for lack of a better word.

Good job.
-- corgi213 on 7/14/2020 10:17:32 PM with a score of 0
Very well written. I liked and related to the protagonist pretty much straight away, which I think is probably the most identifiable trait of a talented writer. I feel like the story could've been expanded on a lot and the ending felt kind of rushed, but then I suppose with a contest, you always have to put the deadline before perfecting the project.

In summary… Very interested story and good words ^_^
-- Avery_Moore on 7/7/2020 9:37:57 AM with a score of 0
very interested story and good words
-- Deer89 on 7/1/2020 11:19:49 PM with a score of 0
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