Thursday, October 18, 2018

IF Comp 2018 Review: Bogeyman

tl;dr: well-made but relentlessly unpleasant

You can look at any work of art and ask, "Did the creator accomplish what (I presume) they set out to accomplish?" You can also ask, "Was their goal a worthy one?"1

So, Bogeyman. You're an abducted child, trying to survive and get back home while the Bogeyman torments you and your companions. The music is in the genre "twinkly-creepy-Tim-Burtonesque", and the prose is squarely in the "how awful can things get?" subgenre of horror. It's a work that forces complicity on the player, as well as detailing some truly awful scenes. A sense of dread and powerlessness pervades the work. The Bogeyman is nasty for the sake of being nasty, despite his claims that he's helping you learn to be good. The work itself sometimes does the same.

I've played through twice now, once "earn[ing my] happy ending"2 and once getting eaten. I haven't found a satisfying ending yet; there may not be one. It's a compliment to the author's writing that I've been willing to dive back into the swamp of terrible choices and try again to find the least bad option. But is the story worth telling?

I think so, even as I think it trades on the innate horror of children in danger more than it ought. Twine and similar necessarily limit your choices. Bogeyman brings that limitation front and center, and thematically it fits with your status as a (mostly) helpless child.

1 This is the same distinction between the Design phase and the MDMP.
2 No. No I did not.

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