IntroComp 2014: 'Bridges and Balloons' by Molly Greene

Perhaps more than in parser-based IF, visual design seems to be significant in choice-based IF stories that run in web browsers. The notable browser games from from IF Comp 2013 -- Moquette, Solarium, their angelic understanding (to name three non-exclusively) -- demonstrated both clean, typography-centric design along with the visual effects native to the HTML format. More than just defining non-standard colors for background and text or adding pictures, Twine and the other browser-based systems have lifted visual design to the level of function, making it an inseparable part of the experience.

One of the more notable features of Bridges and Balloons is its aesthetic. The Twine story is presented using large, highly legible serif type with a small shadow on top of a lighted gradient background. While it might not be my favorite design (although I think it looks attractive enough), it seems objectively effective.
The paragraph flow fits the design. While not feeling terse, the writing is spare and segmented. Even though this is a text-only work with no images and no command prompt, at no point does there seem to be an intimidating wall of text.

The writing style is whimsical and playful without being especially comedic. The lack of explicit humor doesn't feel like a failing. There is no sense that the writing tries and fails to produce hilarity. There are jokes, but the jokes serve to add to the characterization (both of the work as a whole and of the actual characters), supporting the impression of light-hearted whimsy.

The story features a traditional adventure plot -- that is, adventure in the pre-computer-game sense of a seafaring expedition that goes wrong in the uncharted tropics. The setting is a world of anthropomorphic animals without much of a chronological correlation with the history of the human world. The story elements serve well with the writing style and the visual design.

There is nothing remarkable about the interactive element. The end of the introduction introduces a branch, allowing the player to choose between two mutually exclusive paths. The previous choices don't seem to have much effect on the presentation of the story. Presumably, the complete story will feature multiple paths. I was not invested enough in the plot to feel greatly interested in the divergent possibilities at the end of the introduction.

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