IF Comp 2014: Inward Narrow Crooked Lanes (B Minus Seven)


Inward Narrow Crooked Lanes is a surreal choice-based experience. I played it to several conclusions, though I am certain I did not fully explore the possibility space.

It would be pointless to try to say what this is about, I think. The game keeps bringing you questions, some of them in the form of recognizable object manipulation, some other things, but the connection between one piece and the next is not always evident. There is a whole Donne poem in this piece; also a mostly nonsense bureaucratic form; also some text that looks like it’s broken code but that I think is meant to be seen by the player, as a way of surfacing the malleability of the text itself. There is very little sense of agency either diegetic or extradiegetic: the goals aren’t clear, the likely results of actions aren’t obvious, and it’s uncertain how to guarantee that you will experience the whole story.

At one point the game says

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 2.36.06 PM

…and I found this “nothing to do but wait” to be good advice. I liked my later playthroughs better than my first, because initially I was trying to reach a level of understanding that would let me drive the story; later I just let it go by while I looked around.

I am not sure I understood enough to say a great deal more than that: I’m not quite certain what the author was aiming for thematically.

I liked the copper snake, and the bag that contained ashes or sand, and the rats disconcerted by gravitation.

Also reviewed by Caleb Wilson, Jenni Polodna, and Alan DeNiro.

2 thoughts on “IF Comp 2014: Inward Narrow Crooked Lanes (B Minus Seven)

  1. My best guess is that, to the extent that this piece is about anything, it’s about IF. The title, after all, is not just a quotation from a poem about poetry, but also a paraphrase of “twisty little passages.” The exposed code and the way the story is divided into “rooms” (even though one of the rooms is a train) also seem to support this reading. And there’s a subverted bit of puzzle/narrative with the spoon and the NPC who needs a spoon but doesn’t want your dirty spoon that you just picked up in some room you were passing through, thank you very much.

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