Among Thorns

Mildly pumping synth, digital implants and synthetic pork balls are the cultural, technical and agricultural signposts of a not-too-distant cyberpunk future hitting major cities soon. And in these gritty futures, there’s always a gritty story to follow: tracking down the man that may or may not have found a cure to Necronite – a digital virus affecting most people.

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While most of the population is infected, Cora, the technology-antagonist (relatively speaking) assigned to this job has remained unscathed from these infections; her stubbornness to get any upgrades is a testimony to the fact that there will always be resistance to change. Yeah, you’re one of those people.

Among Thorns is perhaps closer to a interactive visual novel, but nonetheless takes the form of a classic point and click adventure – the minimalist interaction and graphics slightly reminiscent of Super Brothers: Sword and Sworcery) Along the way you will meet a few of the inhabitants of this Neo-Tokyo, and get a sniff of the underbelly. Progressing the story is a simple affair, with all the props usually within a few steps. Interactions and observations are all done with the left and right mouse buttons. There’s nothing too tricky to stump you, and creator Matt Frith has done what he could to hint at the good, bad and ugly in such few scenes. It’s Blade Runner’s more immediate cousin.

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Neo-Ramen, now with 12% more Panda flesh!

Among Thorns is billed as a short game, and it does go by in under half an hour. But each screen is rich with detail; neon upon weathered concrete, side by side terminals filling the space. I found myself sucking on polluted air and tripping over cables, drifting between scenes and getting closer to the truth. The sympathetic music and lack of any sound effects, besides those of your feet escalates the flow. Among Thorns transmits you like a packet of data, through the city’s carrion and copper, spitting you out on the other end, and you have no choice but to follow this one way street.

Like many of the more interesting or experimental indie offerings, Among Thorns was a compo effort made in a short time span – in this case for one of the monthly Adventure Game Studio MAGS competitions. There is hardly a resolution to this game; it is more of a beginning – and one that may not see any denouement without a little financial support, according to Matt.

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Among Thorns may be little more than a glorified visual novel, but those 20 minutes or so are great while they last.

Among Thorns | Get it here

Among Thorns is 50 cents on itch.io.

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Posted on November 3, 2016, in Adventure and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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