May. 2nd, 2016

healyg: (Frown)
For the next two weeks, I'll be going over games nominated for the 2015 XYZZY Awards that I haven't played yet. Expect a new review Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week. For now, let's review tonight's game, Hana Feels, by Gavin Inglis.

Hana Feels is a short game about a young woman (named Hana, natch) who self-harms. You play as a sequence of four characters (a helpline volunteer, Hana's boss, Hana's friend, and an old man who runs a support group) who each try to help Hana in their own way. It's very heavy material; I had to take a couple breaks the first time I played because of how intense I found.

Hana was nominated for Best Individual NPC, so let's talk a little more about her. Because of how Hana acts as a focal point for the game, she feels closer to a protagonist than many IF NPCs. The obvious comparison here is to Photopia and Alley, but Hana felt more real to me, perhaps because she's less idealized, or maybe because we see her side of the story more, through both her responses and her journal entries which we see at the end of each chapter. I did think that she could stand to be a bit better characterized outside of her mental health issues, and sometimes it felt like her journal entries painted a rosier picture than would be possible in such a short time frame, but these flaws aren't catastrophic for the game (or Hana). And one thing I thought the game got really, really right is how it's often a bad idea to push someone who's hurting into a course of action, whether it'd be good for them or not. Hana Feels isn't a typical contender for Best Individual NPC, but I think it's worthy of the running.

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