Mission 8 in Smokescreen. OSSIM. Sheer unadulterated OSSIM. This is one of the most beautiful interactive narratives pieces I’ve seen in a while. Go play it. I don’t care if you have any interest in ARGs, or if you’ve been following this story up to this point. This is worth your time by miles. Not much of a game, but who cares? It’s beautiful and emotionally powerful. PLAY IT. Spoilers within.
So in case you didn’t listen to me in the intro, go play Mission 8. I’m not kidding. Right now. Go play it. Vamanos.
Not much to say about this that the experience doesn’t cover. You basically walk through Cal’s story at the Festival that lead to the accident, experiencing the camping at the Festival, the dancing and events, Max losing the bus tickets to get them home, the rides they bum on the way back, and finally the accident. It’s all done using beautiful text layouts with wonderfully designed pages. The design of the pages is drawn directly from the narrative, so sections talking about fire have translucent, wavering text, and sections on roads have text zipping by on signs.
The sound is also excellent in this Mission. It’s all very abstract and evocative, but it does a great job setting the mood. Use your headphones here.
The gameplay is choose-your-own-adventure-style, where you occasionally get a choice between two options, and the narrative follows from there. I don’t think any of my choices have gameplay effects, but they do shape the narrative I see, and none of the choices feel arbitrary or tacked-on. I finish with all of the achievements, but who cares? This is a story experience.
I know this is cheap and short and fawning, but frankly I have nothing else to say. This is a brilliant piece of simple, short interactive fiction. If there are any issues in Smokescreen, this redeems them all. I simply tip my hat to Adrian and SixtoStart for this one, and tell you to go check out his Mission here. I’m not going to say anything more meaningful than what the piece itself can give you.