Thanks for playing my game and giving such helpful feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed the mix of story with (somewhat) challenging game mechanics!
I was wondering if the difficulty was off. I posted the game on Newgrounds as well, but the ratings were a bit low yet there were no comments. I thought people could be struggling to get through and quitting in frustration. I did attempt to do as you described -- I made a dialogue tree and intended the "automatic" or "easy" responses to lead to negative outcomes -- but I worried about the game being too harsh, so I made it easy to recover from mistakes. Probably too easy, depending on the path you take in the story. One particular flaw is that saying nothing and wasting time has little consequence. In real life awkward car conversations which inspired this game, the anxiety of "It's hard to speak up, and I'm running out of time" is a defining emotion that is absent here.
I originally planned to update the game, but this was originally a jam game so the code a mess, and it's not Christmas anymore. Therefore, I'll probably move on from this project, but I'll make sure to apply your feedback to my next. Thanks again!
P.S. By the way, if you feel like answering, what did you think of the story's writing itself? (i.e. Were the characters likable, did it feel genuinely interesting/emotional or kinda sappy/boring?) I know it's taken me a while to respond, so it's fine if you don't reply.