Glass Preview

Normally, I’d post a poem this second Monday of the month, but March 11th happens to be the protagonist’s birthday in one of my novel/game projects, Glass. It never fails that I end up thinking about this particular story on this particular day, so here’s an excerpt from the novel version:


12/22/10

Entry 1: Lost Boy

10/04/00

If Heaven is a real place, can I go there?

-Ervay

Cold. Why was it so cold?

I couldn’t tell. I opened my eyes – or were they already open? – and saw nothing but black. There was no sky. There was no soil. I stretched out my arms. I felt nothing. Nothing but a chill that tingled along the outline of my body. My fingers trembled. My legs shook. A shiver raced up my spine and pounded at the top of my scalp.

Wait. There was something. I noticed the roaring of the river for the first time. Why hadn’t I heard it before? Had it been my mind or my ears lagging behind? I still don’t know. Maybe the blackness outside was seeping inside. Maybe it was coming in through my ears. Maybe it was traveling over my tongue. Maybe it was bleeding in beneath my eyes, crawling into my veins, and painting over the white of my skull. Maybe it was clogging up my thoughts as well as my senses.

I looked around again at nothing. I needed to get away. If I was asleep, I needed to wake up.

The water was loud. Close. But no matter how much I searched, it wasn’t there. My hands couldn’t touch it. My eyes couldn’t find it. I could breathe, so I wasn’t beneath it.

Perhaps it was just an illusion, after all. Perhaps it wasn’t even there.

Or perhaps it was me who wasn’t there at all.

“Er…vay!”

My head jerked in the direction of the noise. My pulse crashed against my ribs. That single word pierced the black. My name.

Should I have recognized that voice? For a fleeting second, I almost believed I had, but then that faint tint of familiarity was gone. It passed right through my hazy head, lingering only on the edge that emptiness failed to permeate.

Whoever it belonged to, they were frightened. Terribly frightened. I’d never heard so much dread before.

“D…o…n’t… Go…!”

Don’t go? But I had to go. I certainly couldn’t stay!

“Don’t go!” the voice begged, as if it were arguing with my thoughts. It was a scream. The type of wail that cuts off as a heart stops beating forever.

I didn’t move.

“Ervay…!”

They were calling for help. They were calling me for help.

My throat condensed with a heavy swallow. “Where are you?”

No answer. The nothing ate my noise. Could the stranger hear me at all? That thought sucked the voice right out of me.

“Ervay!”

My stomach tightened. I needed to save them. I wanted to save them.

But somehow, I knew that I couldn’t.

My own dread drummed in my heart and drowned out the river’s rumbles. “Hey, who – ”

[Read more…]

Monday Blues: Sunless Skies

(“Monday” Blues: On every first Monday of the month, I’ll recommend a new world – a book, a game, a podcast, etc – to escape into. Or at least to look forward to after a hard day’s work.)

Sunless Skies

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A Game by Failbetter Games

What It Is: A gothic fantasy RPG that mixes rogue-like exploration with interactive fiction.

Why You Should Play It: Sunless Skies combines two seemingly disparate genres – survival-focused exploration and prose-based interactive fiction – into a cohesive whole. Much of the game is spent piloting a flying train through the stars, making careful use of resources to avoid starving to death or running out of fuel. There are locations to find with only vague directions, hostile rivals to shoot down, and crew members to manage. The rest of the game is spent navigating branching stories through a slick menu interface. In doing so, you make choices about how to make money, where your allegiances lie, and what just what sort of captain – and person – you are. The way these two separate modes affect each other ties them together.

The atmosphere accomplishes a similar aim, communicated equally well through the different elements: the narrative with its sparkling prose and strenuous choices; the aesthetics through the stars shining below and the lonely, #wonderdark soundtrack; the mechanics through the struggle to stay alive among the solitude and silence of space.

As someone who loves both story-driven games and those with complex, challenging mechanics, I’ve enjoyed sinking my teeth into this deep virtual world. I’d recommend it highly to others who love gothic, immerse games, or who love stories combined with strategy.