Justice Playthrough #60: That Which Binds Us

Eh, this one isn’t working for me.

Page 49, Game 18: That Which Binds Us by Crystal Game Works

I think they call this a “visual novel?” It’s not really a game; there are only a handful of decision points, and they honestly seem pretty inconsequential. Stills of two people appear on-screen, gesturing a bit and changing facial expressions as their dialog prints out below them. Behind them is a static setting — pretty obviously a canned resource of some variety, given that the “bail bondsman’s office” is less “Max Cherry” and more “Tastefully decorated living room.”

This particular story follows a waitress whose scumbag boyfriend is in jail, yet again. She’d dump him, but she’s scared to, because criminal n’at. But, the bail bondsman has a magic knife that makes people forget about other people.

Would you like your jailbird boyfriend to forget about you?

Yes. Of course. That’s the plot.

The “game” is just click-n-read, click-n-read, click-n-read. Not my bag, really, but I don’t want to get hung up on that. If this is honestly mostly just a piece of fiction, I can at least do it the courtesy of evaluating it on those terms.

This does not work for me as a piece of fiction. In a previous life I had aspirations as a fiction writer, so I’ve read my share of stories made with more passion and ambition than actual skill. This gave me flashbacks to the days of telling people “Sorry, I don’t think this works” and trying to find constructive explanations for why and how they could possibly make the next story better.

“That Which Binds Us” suffers from two common rookie mistakes: bad pacing, and underwhelming characters. The story is clearly a romance between the waitress and the magic bail bondsman, but the story is hopelessly mired in the minutiae of their conversations. The writer clearly finds these characters and their interactions fascinating, but has neglected to give the reader any particular reason to care.

There are, of course, hints of a larger story, that our adorable magic bailboy is in way over his head with some sort of organized crime element. In theory, that’s the sort of thing that could generate tension, but in execution, it just put a spotlight on how little was actually happening.

After a good fifteen minutes or so, I gave up. The grinding pace had worn me down so thoroughly that even if the story did start to get good, I didn’t know if I’d be able to acknowledge it. And I wasn’t seeing indications that it was going to get good.

I wasn’t skeeved or pissed-off, I was just kinda bored. Can’t really recommend this one. But I certainly wish the author well, and if someone gave one of their later works a glowing recommendation, I’d be glad to give it a look.

Let’s see what’s on deck:

Page 20, Game 10: I want to be a Triangle by LeCroissantCyclope

“The little adventure of a Rectangle in Geoshape Prime.”

This just might be a metaphor for something.