More is a Shufflecomp game, based on a whole big batch of different songs. Structurally it reminded me quite a bit of Tea and Toast: both pieces give the player a task to perform in the foreground while simultaneously providing a slow drip of memories about a lover. It’s a way to get memory and emotion and interpersonal relationships into a parser game where all the main verbs are about picking up and moving objects. Not a trick that would work across the duration of a long game, but for both of these it works fine, I think.
There are differences. More is more overtly puzzly than Tea and Toast; there’s actually something to solve, not just something to do (though I didn’t find it especially difficult). The content is more implausible, and more melancholy. The lovers in Tea and Toast are lesbians who met on a bus and have a backstory that could easily belong to someone I know; the lovers in More are Bonnie-and-Clyde-style robbers who have finally been brought down by the need to keep acquiring, long after they had plenty.
I particularly liked this paragraph:
You try to remember when you and Tommy first met. You can’t. Isn’t that weird. That’s the sort of thing everyone remembers. It’s just like how you don’t remember when you first read a book or watched a movie. Everything fades into the past. His love haunts your entire life; the rest is gone.
Cryptophasia is about a baker in a voiceless future space-faring society which dedicates a lot of its time to ASMR (short for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) videos — a whole genre of videos in which people tap things, rustle things, and whisper or speak softly to the viewer in order to trigger a physiological response. Even for people who don’t get the tingling head ASMR response (not everyone does), they’re often very relaxing — which is why it’s possible for a 20-minute video of someone folding towels or tapping fake nails on a wooden box to have hundreds of thousands of views. A few ASMR videos have a plot, but that’s not really the point.
In the context of the story, the ASMR videos become doses of intimacy secretly delivered in a society that discourages such connections — which may not be so far off from their appeal in the current world, come to that.
I enjoyed the strangeness of this piece. It probably needs to be played a couple of times; at least, I found that it made most sense when I’d seen more than one of the endings.