I used to be heavily into things like running tabletop role-playing games, reading visual novels, playing interactive fiction, and crunching through classic JRPGs.
Life happened, some events screwed up my brain, and as-of the writing of this page (October 31st, 2023) it's been something like six years having not been able to healthily interact with art.
I have a personal issue where I struggle to interact with art because I feel that, unless it's the latest work an author has produced, there's this sense of guilt. What if I'm finding enjoyment in something that the author doesn't view as a statement they stand behind any more? Am I an asshole for saying something that might disagree with the creator themself? It was argued that no, art should exist for people to be able to put thought into, but right now off of years of confidence issues it's almost a scary thought for me to do that.
As I struggle to pick anything up myself, a solution that came to mind during a long car ride was having other people not only recommend me titles but also give deadlines, engage in conversations about the titles, and push me to put somthing out about what I've seen no matter how I felt. Maybe doing this will renew my love for checking out creative works that weren't just things I made myself.
Apologies for some of these pages just being blog posts alongside game reviews but I hope you at least somewhat get what I'm going for.

CYBERQUEEN is an online interactive fiction title made in Twine by Porpentine. It was described to me as a "smol and really fucking weird cyber BDSM horror sex" title.

If you asked me to write a TL;DR , I guess it would be this:
CYBERQUEEN is a short mindfuck. I can't say I understand it but I can say that I respect it.

I don't really have a good format for how to write this all out so I guess let's just turn that TL;DR into some points?


This isn't a long game. I think my first read was twenty minutes, the second around half an hour? I went really fast the first time because of some things I'll touch on later mixed with a general sense of being tired, I think it both added to and hurt the experience, and then the second time at a slower pace somewhat helped me understand things I just didn't get. I really do appreciate this being a smaller piece as the guilt I usually feel when booting something up and spending hours on it just didn't exist.

This is also a "short" game in the sense of how it's presented. You're given all of three forms of text, standard white/standard green/bold green. You're taught right off the bat that clicking bold green is how you pick whatever option you want to take. You're thrown pretty damn quickly into the heat of things. There are never more than a few lines of text on the screen at once, you could read this on a classic Macintosh with room to spare for all I care. Descriptions stick to just a few details, ones that require more have their own option you can pick which itself isn't going to be more than a paragraph or two. It all goes against my usual "text adventure" title that I think of like Dungeon, big 'ol blobs of "YOU ARE STANDING IN x AND SEE abcd AND HEAR j AND SMELL k AND FEEL q", and I really do like that. Scatterbrained me had a much easier time understand this than almost any classic interactive fiction title I've attempted, I didn't need a map like I was on some Apple II stuff, and that felt good.

I think this is a good place to write that I really appreciate how Porpentine built a world that, when my brain could process exactly what was going on, was able to be visualized using nothing more than simple paragraphs. A good chunk of the imagery was clear without any use of visual aides. I assume that's the mark of a good writer, at least I think I'd say it is, so it's impossible to not applaud that.

"mindfuck" // "I can't say I understand it"

I will entirely admit that a part of my brain feels I'm too stupid to understand this.

I couldn't honestly describe exactly what happens to you except that some sort of ship AI does some sort of System Shock thing where it turns evil and then everything onboard turns against you. I couldn't tell you what the actual concepts are that were happening, maybe there's some stuff about like pleasure being derived from sadism by the ship slowly toying with you? I'll be honest, once you leave that "you walk around a small area with four options" intro I just couldn't pick up a visualization to save my life. There are no long sequences of you experiencing anything (or maybe there are and I'm just reading too fast?), just this super snappy thing that's like "piss yourself" to "roll" to "you're about to be cut open" to "duck through a vent" to "you're being snagged up". I think the ending is something like you being assimilated into the ship itself? I really couldn't tell you because the viewpoint switch (that I didn't get the first time at all) without a ton of (what I usually see as) clear indicators (again, "maybe I'm just stupid" thought) really made the last bit of the story impossible for me to understand. To call it a blur I think would be an understatement.

It really did take playing the game, writing a sad message, re-reading the game, writing a draft of this page, talking about the draft of this page, and then re-reading the game for a third time for me to think I understand what's going on. I feel bad because I'm not freshly versed in stuff like this at all, I'm sure almost anyone that would have found this on their own would have no struggle like that, and maybe even my usual experience with say old Sierra High-Resolution Adventure titles where everything has pictures and long descriptions is harming me on that? I feel really inept, not in a "the author is calling me stupid" way but a "I feel stupid because it took so many retries and verbalizations to think I know that's going on" way, but maybe that's intended? I guess it does feel like the main character is scared and confused for the whole thing so maybe the fright and confusion in my own head, doubly so on the first playthrough being sleepy where it turned into a painful, dull grayness, was what I was supposed to have?

"but I can say that I respect it"

Was my head really heavy the whole time playing this?
Yeah, it was almost overwhelming at times.

Do I have a perfect idea of what the hell I experienced?
Nope, I'm still struggling to visualize tons out of a lack of knowing what the hell was happening.

Did I find this to be a worthwhile experience?
Yeah, it took some forcing myself and things are still challenging my brain but that might just be good. Maybe not everything should be really easy for me. Maybe the challenge of something like this is good for me. Despite the "I don't belong speaking on a thing like this, I'm stupid, I should shut up, I shouldn't put anything out there, I'm the wrong person" voice in my brain existing at the very moment I'm writing this, there's a bigger part of my brain saying that me forcing myself to experience, verbalize, revise, and think on something that's hard is most likely the best way towards seeking comfort with myself.

This is something that I probably would have never found on my own and I'm really glad that, with the help of someone else telling me to do it, I was able to make some sense of it.

Thank you Porpentine for your work, keep making things for your unique little corner of the internet that I'll be revisiting soon enough as I try to see if I can't redo this in a few months and have a better idea of what was happening.

Thank you Noelle for recommending me this game, this was really heavy on me and almost crying myself to sleep on my keyboard out of just not understanding things did hurt but I think it was a good experience to go through.

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