IF Comp 2015 Guest Post: Liz Albl on Nowhere Near Single


As part of the project to get new reviewers talking about IF Comp games, Liz Albl has written about Nowhere Near Single.

Liz Albl is a scriptwriter for Ubisoft and author of short stories.

Other posts written as part of this project can be found at this roundup post.

Nowhere Near Single puts the player in the shoes of a young woman named Jerri who is trying to navigate a career as a pop star and love in a polygamous relationship. Interaction is focused on Jerri’s exchanges with other women, including her three girlfriends (Sarai, Nayeli, and Taya), her manager, and co-pop stars. The premise is unusual and exciting, however, content didn’t always live up to expectations.

Every woman in this game is characterized with distinct complexities and idiosyncrasies that make them feel like real people instead of objects or symbols for something else. The characters are not all likable, but they are all interesting people who could stand alone outside the story.

While the characters were engaging, the writing itself is rather unremarkable with little description of place or setting. The story is quite long (it took me 3 hours to explore every option), and a lot of time is spent focusing on characters going to and fro rather than getting to the meat of a scene.

Additionally, not all scenes seemed to have an intent, and some conversations just read like mundane filler. A heavy edit, or perhaps a different format choice (such as an episodic adventure), would have helped with the pacing. Setting clear boundaries within the game might have also contributed to a sense of progression. For instance, at first I thought I was playing a-day-in-the-life-of, then it seemed like I might be experiencing a week in Jerri’s life, but by the end I got the impression my experience had spanned months. Focusing on a distinct point in time could have concentrated the experience into something more meaningful.

While there was often a lot of text to get through to reach an interactive option, there were also some nice transitions. For instance, clicking on the phrase “need to” in one portion of the game, didn’t lead me to a different page, but rather, transformed the text into “have to,” speaking to desperation of the character. These little flourishes were a nice surprise and contributed to the already solid characterization.

Being a married woman in a heterosexual relationship, I enjoyed the opportunity to explore not only a lesbian scenario, but one in which many partners, connections, and options were available. If only more games provided an opportunity to step into the shoes of a life so completely different from one’s own.

Nowhere Near Single provides an intriguing alternate reality for most, and gives the player enough agency to not only influence the game, but to explore a different part of themselves. However, the length and often banal settings and descriptions of events could be reason to abandon the adventure before it’s even begun.

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