IFComp ’12: howling dogs

howling dogs by Porpentine is a video game about virtual reality. You play… someone who’s… someplace. The place is a room, sparsely described, where food and drink is dispensed. There’s a “Sanity Room” where screens project nature scenes, and an “Activity Room” where a VR machine provides distractions. It’s all very vague and poetic; open to a lot of interpretation. I liked it, but also felt it was a little thin.

 

howling dogs is browser based hyperlink game but it uses all sorts of tricks to make for a full experience. It even has an honest to god real puzzle. So it really is quite commendable what Porpentine has done here. And the simulations were all engaging and interesting, as was the process of the main room breaking down over time. The game is great at creating mood. But I don’t know… something about the nebulousness of it all didn’t click with me. Especially the abruptness of the first ending. I had actually found the correct path to the other one but opted out of it early without realizing it. Playing through again and getting the second ending clarified some things and made the first ending more palpable in retrospect. But I guess I just prefer things to be a little more concrete. Something to give some weight to all the flowery language. A reason to care. howling dogs felt like one of its own VR dreams: interesting while immersed but ultimately nothing more than a distraction.

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