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Toryanse: Reel

A tiny, wordless, interactive short-story... · By Arcto Games

My humble Feedback

A topic by Oddly Shaped Pixels created Apr 30, 2017 Views: 467 Replies: 2
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I'm not used to comment or post on other games but as a game designer and since I can see potential in this one, I thought I might give it a go.

So first of all, congrats on the mood, aesthetics and cinematic feel of your game. The looks is really polished and the character's animations convey a lot of feelings. You're good at telling a story without "saying" too much.

What seems more clunky to me is the "game" aspect. Not that it's short (I sometimes prefer shorter games), not that the story isn't telling that much in the end (maybe because in this state, it's more a concept proof or vertical slice than a game), but because the mechanics are lacking.

First of all, the interactions. Aside that rotating and manipulating objects felt a bit hard to grasp, the interactions seem a bit inconsistent to me: sometimes a slight click will turn something on, sometimes it's a longer click, sometimes, it's triggered by the mouse hovering something. In the end, my way of playing reminded of the dark ages of point & click and pixel hunting: just clicking randomly to see if I can trigger something. And most of the times it ended up doing something, but it was more of luck, to me, than of real decisions being executed willingly in the game world.

I understand that the lack of communication towards the player helps you give that feeling of discovery and "blindly" unveiling things as the old woman would do. But you're communicating so little that even some basic feedback on the cursor is missing: why not put a slight feedback when hovering the mouse can trigger something, why not tell the player what he can expect as being interactable. It's a good thing to try to stir up the old P&C mechanics a bit, but there are some ground mechanics that are there for a reason. And giving the player the knowledge of what he can possibly do is one of them.

Second of all, and that's not an easy one as it's not just about putting more feedback or easing the controls, it's the viewpoint of the game: I guess you want the player to feel and interact as the old woman, but some actions made me feel more like a 3rd person omnipotent god or ghost, like *SPOILER ALERT* unlocking the door by making the broom fall *END OF SPOILER ALERT*. But then, other actions like manipulating the computer or the phone indicate that I play as the woman. So to me, it's a bit hard to gauge my empathy towards my character: am I her? am I somebody else helping her? am I doing both? In the end, it doesn't bother that much since the game is quite short but if you plan to take it to a bigger scale, I guess that's something you should address, either mechanics-wise or storytelling-wise.

So that's it, maybe it seems a bit harsh but it's definitely not. I really liked the experience, I can see it becoming a full-scale game and it even inspired me as a GD too. I just wanted to give you my honest but humble opinion, so take it the most useful way possible.

BTW, you certainly have already but if you haven't, give "Lieve Oma" a go. Not the same game/mechanics obviously (maybe the aesthetics or the old woman reminded me of it), but there might be some stuffs to pick/learn from it.

Cheers and once again, thank's for the gaming experience!


Hey there!

Thanks for playing and for taking the time to leave such thoughtful feedback!

Consistency with the interactions was something I struggled with definitely. I responded previously on the forum here that I thought it might be related, at least somewhat, to the current scale of the game? If it was even smaller than it is now, maybe just a single room, I could have afforded to have every object reacting to the mouse, the game would then become about finding the right object or the right order? On the other hand, if the game was a bit longer it would perhaps have allowed more time to build up a "language" of interactions, starting with more straightforward ones and slowly developing them as the player became familiar with how the game works. As it is at the moment it maybe falls somewhere in between and, as you say, becomes about luck, just waving the mouse around to try and progress, some things respond, some don't and there isn't much to let players know either way.

I specifically didn't want the player to feel like they were playing as the woman! :D The idea was for the player to act as a driving force for the narrative and a kind of helping hand/guiding spirit for the character, I wanted the "cursor" to exist within the game world. The problem was maintaining that separation consistently while still coming up with enjoyable/interesting interactions that simultaneously connected the character, the environment and the little story I was trying to tell. The close-up interactions, as they are, blur the line too much; could the woman see you moving the objects? Were you actually moving her hands to perform the actions? With more time and a more nuanced performance from the character I think some of those issues could be addressed; as an example I could have had her start the job of unscrewing the laptop only to struggle with seeing the tiny screws, she could get distracted and the player could help out, unscrew, peel the label off and then she could return to the job and finish it off herself? There is an awful lot more work in conveying all of that succinctly to the player though!

The aim isn't to expand this particular game really, but to make a series of similar small stories set in the same world. Hopefully with the next one though I'll be able to address some of the issues that popped up with the first!

Thanks again!


(I really enjoy Florian's work! There's so much conveyed in the seemingly simple interactions of Lieve Oma!)


Thank's a lot for your answer, I'm glad to have your views and opinions on the question.

I'm eager to see what you'll do next, I'll definitely follow your work.