Tag: author: ian cowsbell

Ectocomp 2017: La Petite Mort

Ectocomp, the annual horror-focused interactive fiction contest, has arrived! La Petite Mort is the speed-writing section of Ectocomp, in which games are created in 3 hours or under. Here are some thoughts on my current three favourites.


Bloody Raoul – Ian Cowsbell (Inform 7)

An interactive grotesque about a “knife punk”, one of a subculture of criminals existing with little identity but for the knives they carry. The setting is rich, with weird and intriguing details about deities, bodies, and weapons, painting the picture of a sinister fantasy city full of desperate individuals running and fighting for the sake of it. All of which is to say: this is my jam.

Although some of Bloody Raoul‘s implementation is sparse, the atmosphere is suitably sinister and imaginative that I didn’t much mind. There are a number of ways to die, but the game is brief enough that this is less of a barrier to enjoyment and more of a curiosity. For the PC, it’s all part of their nasty, brutish and short everyday life.


little – Chandler Groover (Twine)

A tiny yarn about a creepy girl, needles, bodies, and an even creepier narrator. Chandler Groover is excellent at creating grotesque fairytales and disconcerting narrative voices, and this piece is no exception. Its barebones narration and interface works well to create the atmosphere, allowing the player to fill in the gaps – inevitably with more horrible images than could be depicted. One section reminded me of the party garden sequence from howling dogs, though rather than decadence overload, it gives the piece an added inexorable chill.


make build –deity – Josh Giesbrecht (Twine)

A series of iterations of an AI deity being built. Rather than violence and creepy imagery, this game concerns itself more with existential dread.

You awaken, with eyes everywhere, ears that hear all.

It is time for you to make the world right.

I’m hesitant to say much more about it – I think it works best going in without much prior knowledge – but the look of the game is pleasingly console-screen-style, and along with the ambient soundscape, the whole thing provokes a sense of heavy, dreamlike melancholy.