East Grove Hills

Quite a bit of promise, at first: writing was not bad, if a little on the angsty side, and the handling of unimplemented objects was neat. And it featured an Asian-American protagonist. However, I soon found the game to be essentially on rails. There is only one scene which seemed significant from a gameplay point of view, and that is the conversation with Yue in the park. The following scene does allow you to either play it safe or play the hero -- one option will reward the player with a few last moments with his dying sister, the other will not -- but, other than the immediate gratification of that reward, there seems to be no change to the story.

The "interactivity" aspect of Interactive fiction can run on either one of two things: puzzles and choice. A game can have one without the other, but either way, the more the better. Puzzles are puzzles, but for a choice to really count in a game, it must have an impact on the ending -- not necessarily the actual events of the ending, but possibly also the character's or the player's understanding of it. Here, there are no puzzles, and choices do little but generate an immediate short-term blip in the story. They're not significant choices. This severely limits the interactivity of the story.

I was pleased to find that the protagonist was an Asian immigrant. I am one myself. I was less pleased to find that, except for the one white guy in the math team, every single one of his friends and associates appear to be Asian, in spite of being told that Asians are very much the minority in the setting. I suppose there is an in-game explanation for this: he is socially awkward, and presumably will have only associated with those few people with whom he had a common culture back when he first arrived. Still, it tasted like insularity to me. For one thing, I'm not sure that all of the other Asian classmates mentioned were childhood friends from the first few years in this new country. Retaining one's culture is all very well -- I encourage it -- but holding oneself aloof from one's neighbours.... that does not do your race any favours.

The ending I thought was a little trite. After the tragedy and angst, the best thing they could come up with was this? A club for misfits? What measure is a misfit, and how do you judge? What does it have to do with anything that has happened so far? What is the point of this story?

Congee with chicken and a bit too much salt; English tea with lots of milk.