Railways of Love

The introduction to this story left me with little hope of a good time: it seemed as if our choice at each juncture was between "Option A" and "Option A again after dismissing Option B". As it turned out, this was largely a demo or tutorial to give us an overview of what was going to happen. Things picked up significantly once that was over and I understood what was expected of me.

The story here is that these two people have fallen in love over the course of some meeting or convention, and this train journey will be their last time together for the foreseeable future. They have yet to admit their feelings to each other, and the object of the game is to get them to do so. Or, rather, to manipulate their fate: it seems that "getting them to admit their love" is not quite such a clear-cut romance as might be expected.

Gameplay involves making a choice between four options (or, practically speaking, just three options) at four different junctures. Each of the three practical options falls into one of three groups: something to do with the attendant, something to do with the lights, and something to do with the "spikehead" (I'm not entirely sure what that is) outside the train. Each option might affect the available options at the next juncture: for example, having the lights go out means that from here on, the "attendant" option is defined as "the attendant is fixing the lights". You may have noticed that none of these options involves an action on the part of our protagonists. What we're doing, really, is manipulate the environment so as to encourage a certain outcome.

That's really quite interesting. It's almost like one of those sandbox growth games where the final product depends on the order in which you activate different elements of the central object. Just as interesting is what it says about relationships. There are seven different endings, depending on how events colour this final interaction between our protagonists. All of them seem deadly realistic, perhaps a little fatalistic, and uniquely crafted to the individuals. We don't put on rose-tinted glasses just because our protagonists finally become lovers. In fact, I would suggest that they're happier going their separate ways instead. In spite of a certain intensity of emotion that I don't quite identify with, it feels like a pretty mature approach to the question of romance.

Of course, the game seems more interested in the idea of fate, but that's not what I'm taking away from the experience.

As a breakfast, it seems a like a light continental. I think perhaps this is a crisp almond croissant with a side of strawberries and cream and a double espresso. Something dainty and sophisticated.