Freeware Garden: The Matter of the Great Red Dragon

Count on Jonas Kyratzes to play with the tropes detailed in The Hero with a Thousand Faces and deliver a brilliant Twine-powered text adventure that simultaneously examines traditional heroic literature values and revels in retelling the classic save-the-world fantasy tale. With The Matter of the Great Red Dragon taking place in the Land of Dreams one can also expect a subtle yet incredibly novel critique of modern societies too. Also a bit of well-placed humour.

The game, originally an entry to the 2014 Fear of Twine exhibition, has you preparing to join Ibrahim of Sadaqah, Faolan the Noble, Vana of Intethi, Halvard of the Wolfkin, Eamhair the Swift and Zhomm the Inscrutable in defeating the Great Red Dragon. The beast that every one hundred years rises from the Clawed Mountain to terrorize the people of the Land of Plenty and serve the Darkest of All Evils.

Fleshing out your character is a delightful experience that may be executed in the traditional choose-your-own-adventure way, but comes with a subtle yet lush historical backdrop and some fine aesthetic choices. Just like a book, a text adventure should never ignore the way it actually looks and Kyraztes knows this. Apparently he also knows how to implement smart development bars that track your character’s progress.

[Disclaimer: Jonas Kyratzes is a friend of mine and I do irrationally adore the Lands of Dreams — oddly, they are the only games I show my non-gaming friends.]

12 Comments

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    Harlander says:

    This was both fun and pretty short, good selling points for this kind of thing.

    one can also expect a subtle yet incredibly novel critique of modern societies too.

    Subtle like being hit in the face with a shovel, perhaps. But it was an amusing critique, which is just as good.

    I’m also going to assume that what I interpreted as a reference to The Mighty Boosh actually was one.

  2. deejayem says:

    Why is it always Joseph bloody Campbell? Can’t we all just make up our minds to grow out of him, please?

  3. scottyjx says:

    I really loved this, from the author’s notes for the game:

    “If you were to live every single permutation of your life, would your choices still have meaning? To see a few alternate possibilities might be interesting, but to see all of them would flatten everything out, until you no longer truly existed as an individual.

    Consider this when reading an interactive story.

    Respectfully,
    The Author”

    • Caelyn Ellis says:

      For me, the mark of a truly great piece of IF (or any game with branching narratives) is when I don’t want to play through again. I much prefer being satisfied with MY story than feeling the need to methodically investigate all the branches because it feels like I’ve missed something.

      • TechSmurfy says:

        I just logged in to say I wholeheartedly agree. Not just in interactive fiction but in any kind of story-driven game.

  4. Caelyn Ellis says:

    I played it through and now I feel sad.

  5. Caelyn Ellis says:

    Incidentally, how dare you recommend a free game from a friend? Nepotism! Corruption! Etc!

  6. jrodman says:

    And all I was hoping for was a fairly decent red dragon!

  7. jrodman says:

    Hmm, I didn’t find a critique, just a jarring shift that didn’t click.

  8. TechSmurfy says:

    Konstantinos, I just wanted to say thank you for your continuing efforts on keeping this garden creative and varied in style and substance. I’m sure most of your recommendations will find their way one day to my highways of experience, for the moment I am just collecting. Keep it up – and regards from Greece.

    • Konstantinos Dimopoulos says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words and I hope you enjoy the games. Also, cheers from Athens!