Review: normal_fantasies.exe

Review: normal_fantasies.exe

normal_fantasies.exe is a Twine short story by Storysinger Presents about online relationships and harassment.

In my opinion, this game has a strong core idea, but doesn’t confidently execute on that idea. The writing, while serviceable, doesn’t clearly define any of the characters and is frustratingly vague at points. At first the plot appears to be a queer coming-out story, but it abruptly becomes darker in tone. The protagonist’s life situation is very lightly sketched, and I found it difficult for me to understand her choices and place myself in her shoes.

The Facebook interface, while impressive for a Twine game, falls short of authenticity, and is minimally implemented with almost no clickable links. I began the game clicking around the page, hoping to discover more information about Lynette and her friends, and was disappointed to find that none of the pages other than the Facebook news feed had been implemented. The pictures were also immersion-breaking, as they appear to be professionally captured stock photos of random people, rather than the personal photos of friends and family.

The game depicts intense online harassment and explicit cybersex, which I was not aware of when I started the game. I was distressed by the depictions of online harassment and had to take a break and mentally distance myself from the protagonist. I would have appreciated if the game included a content warning in its description.

In the end, I chose to break up with the AI girlfriend and received a short ending I found unsatisfying. For me, it raised more questions than it answered: why hadn’t Lynette taken those actions earlier? How did she resolve her harassment problem? And what was the harassment all about, anyway?

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this game but felt it had a lot of missed potential. If my concerns above were addressed and the game was further fleshed out and polished, I think normal_fantasies.exe could be a much stronger game.

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