IF Competition 2006 Review #3: The Sisters

Name: The Sisters
Author: revgiblet (James Webb)
Date: 24 August 2006
Parser: Adrift
Availability: IFComp 2006 Entrant
URL: http://www.ifcomp.com
Version: Competition Version

Plot: 9/10 – An interesting plot that manages to enlighten by steps. Final twist was well executed.
Atmosphere: 8/10 – The aim of a spooky haunted house was very well done.
Writing:  8/10 – Description were good, grammar and spelling were good with no major problems.
Game play: 6/10 – Gameplay and puzzles were good, found one major bug however.
Characters: 6/10 – Well characterised an interesting with one exception.
Puzzles:  7/10 – Logical and not too difficult.
Overall:  8/10 – A great ifcomp game.

——Spoiler warning

I seem to be picking up the attempted spooky games straight off the bat, which is interesting since it is not a genre I normally take for my own.  The Sisters attempts to be a different sort of horror game however than Requiem. Whilst Requiem felt quite Cthulic supernatural, The Sisters is scary dead girls running about a haunted house. Very Japanese horror and I’m going to blame games and movies like this if I end up a bad father. Little girls creep me out now.

The game starts with a car accident and you’re not long playing when you realise you’re trapped in a haunted house and it appears one of the ghosts is responsible for your accident. Investigation of the house and solving the puzzles within feed you, piece by piece, the story of what happened to the current ghostly occupants and, in the end, why you have attracted their attention.

The ending is of a type seen in just about every creative writing class ever given since the dawn of time – with every author believing themselves the first to do it.  Not since Agatha Christie wrote a first-person murder mystery where the narrator was also the villain has this sort of twist been original by any stretch of the word. It does work however, the ending is both satisfying and logically complete and even the fact that there is only one possible ending doesn’t detract from the game or the story in my opinion.   This sort of ending is often used as a gimmick and is often rightly shunned because of that, however I think in this case it is both valid and entertaining.

I did find one bug that caused me to finish my first run through of the game early, without ever progressing outside to the lake. This was disappointing, since without the lake scene and retrieving the music box for the two children, the main theme (as written in the girl’s journal) of the game isn’t as powerful. “What you do in death can’t make up for what you did in life.” Is both a clue to the nature of our character, his predicament, and the hopeless nature of the story – there is no way to make up for what the character did before we came along, thus, no way to avert the end that is coming. Lack of choice, or agency, can be just as compelling as full choice, when used for a proper narrative purpose as it is here.

The bug in question was that typing “S” or “South” in the kitchen, enabled me to walk straight through the locked metal doors without opening them.  Normally you would have to get the music box from the lake, and bring it back into the house for the ghost children. The story is far more powerful for the addition of this small part.

On the whole, a remarkable story-based game, with a few simple, logically local puzzles.  Definately the standard I will be holding the other games I review up against this year.

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10 thoughts on “IF Competition 2006 Review #3: The Sisters

  1. The ending isn’t logically complete at all. The location of the girl’s body is different in the ending to where it is in the game. Perhaps the idea of the PC being the murderer was an afterthought.

  2. I must say thats a bit of a confusing statement to make as I never found her body during the game.

    You’re not thinking of the body you find in the cellar are you? Thats explained by the story if you’ve done enough exploring and is actually the body of the old man that you see as a ghost a few times – the last owner of the house who was responsible for killing the younger two sisters and eventually killed himself, unable to deal with what he had become.

    He actually hung himself in the room above. It appears that time eventually frayed the ropes (His body was never discovered, despite the years that have passed) and fell through the floor to the cellar.

  3. It’s in the woods. There’s a mound of dirt in the shape of a body that’s described as being freshly dug. You can’t dig it up, but that’s presumably her. I don’t see how it could be anyone else.

  4. Hi. I’m the author of ‘The Sisters’. The pile of dirt in the woods was just that. A pile of dirt. It’s supposed to creep the player out a little rather than serve any plot purpose. The walkthrough that accompanies the game states that. It never occurred to me that someone would assume that it was where Lynda was buried. Guess I’m not as clever as I thought!

    To be honest I had the beginning and the end of the game worked out from the start. Neither were an ‘after-thought’. If anything, the middle was the after-thought.

    However, frater, thanks for the positive review. It was really encouraging. I’ve been something of a fan of IF for many years but this was my first effort at writing one. I’ve read a couple of other reviews of the game that have been along the ‘It’s OK, I guess’ line which is more of what I was expecting.

    As it happens, I’m in the process of moving from the UK to Australia, so maybe when things have settled down I’ll try my hand at another game.

  5. Congratulations on your first effort being so entertaining, I for one quite enjoyed it. I never made the link between the dirt and Lynda’s body, but it was quite creepy.

    Which state in Aus you moving to? Let me be the first to welcome you ashore 😉 I’m sure you’ll enjoy it here.

  6. We’ll be moving to Dubbo, NSW. I’m sure my family and I will love it. From reading your blog the political situation sounds pretty similar to the UK so I’m sure we’ll feel right at home 😉

  7. If by that you mean we have a government that seems to see itself as “little america” then yeah, you’ll have no trouble adjusting at all 😉 I’m in Tasmania, which is a small island state south of Victoria.

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