[IFComp 2012] howling dogs

I started howling dogs by Porpentine, and the title is inspired by a quote by Kenzaburō Ōe, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1994.

“One morning at dawn the nurse shook him awake because his sobs were being heard in the next room. Once he was awake he could hear that not only was the patient next door but the two hundred dogs kept in the hospital courtyard for use in the laboratory had also been threatened by his sobbing and clearly were howling still; nonetheless, he thought to himself, I am only dreaming; besides, I’m already fully conscious of the significance of those howling dogs because I’ve written about them, this is no time for howling dogs.” -Oe Kenzaburo


It turns out that I’m in my quarters alone. I have a bunk, a hydration unit, a food dispenser, a bathroom, and most importantly the activity room – where dreamlike paragraphs are dispensed via pulses. It’s never really clear how I relate to the dreams? memories? or what the point of it all really is. I have to continue to eat and drink to be able to use the pulses to access the dreams, but at some point, I can no longer throw away my garbage or use the shower. My skin itches and I start to live in my own filth. This seems to be part of a larger commentary on… something, but what?

It’s interesting, the choice of Twine for an IF game, but it’s done well here. Twine suits this reality dispersed with the surreal. It feels all wispy, and Twine keeps me sort of floating with the clicking and loss of control. howling dogs is more sort of interactive poetry, than fiction, or a game, or anything you can actually control.

There’s a whole section of dream-like images in the banquet hall. You’ll know, because you can click about 80 different phrases to get the response “How interesting!” If you click the right one, you’ll get another set, and you must find the second. This felt a little jarring from the rest of the game, with the clicking, and the clicking, and the clicking, only to find “How interesting!” each time. I don’t know. This game intrigued me, but ultimately, wasn’t enough to wow me.



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