Now that we have reviewed interactive movies (Tender Loving Care and Point of View) and performance pieces (Laurie Anderson’s “Puppet Motel”), I wanted to tell you about another thing, not exactly a game, but an electronic adventure story. It’s titled “Broken Saints” and it’s an animated graphic novel. It’s also free. You can download the chapters, or view them online at http://www.brokensaints.com.
The story is told in twenty-four chapters. Each chapter consists of one or more segments, nine to fifteen minutes in length. In each segment, the story scrolls slowly across the screen, with accompanying music and animations. If you want some idea of what the animations are like, look at the site. Once you get to the site, click on the picture, another window will open, which is the main site. You’ll see some animation, hear music, and can click on the various links. All but the last chapter can be downloaded. They release chapters regularly. There are 24 chapters in all; they are up to chapter 20.
Here’s how it’s described on the site: “Broken Saints is an online graphic novel that uses Macromedia’s Flash to tell a creepy and thought-provoking story. The creators felt that there was lots of ‘entertainment’ on the web, but nothing that really compelled viewers to become involved with the direction of a tale or its characters.” Here’s the description on the soundtrack site – http://www.biggerboots.com/bs_index.html
- “Broken Saints is a 'serial online graphic literature event' (read: online comic) which has captured the imagination of tens of thousands of fans - and major Internet awards - worldwide since its inception two years ago. Written and directed by Brooke Burgess, illustrated by Andrew West and designed and programmed by Ian Kirby, it tells the dark, unsettling but ultimately compelling story of four characters 'from the quiet corners of the globe' who are brought together by shared experiences, dark visions and hardships to face a terrifying threat.”
The story has similarities to “The Longest Journey”. Four people from different parts of the planet come together to, as far as I can tell, save the world. More flippantly, I would describe the story as “dark and mysterious forces are controlling our world and only you can get to the bottom of it”, that sort of thing. If you have ever read graphic novels, such as Sandman by Neil Gaiman, you’ll be familiar with that kind of plot. (The comparison to Neil Gaiman isn’t quite fair; he’s a much subtler writer). I know, it sounds a bit too “cosmic”, for want of a better term, and pretentious. I thought so at first, but it’s amazingly well done. As you watch it, the story becomes oddly compelling. I ended up really wanting to know what was going to happen. The tone is somewhat dark, but there are flashes of humor. The story does evolve slowly, so if you are the impatient sort, it’s probably not for you. If you managed to work your way through “Riven”, I think you will do just fine.
The text is large (much larger than the tiny print on the website), and it scrolls slowly, so it’s easy to read. Visually, it’s beautiful. There isn’t a lot of animation, but there’s a genuine feeling of movement. You get the impression that more things are moving than actually are, and some of the movements are quite dramatic. The music fits the story perfectly; it’s very evocative music.
As far as I can tell, it’s not resource intensive. Individual downloads are 3 to 6 MB, with one biggie at 10MB. You can also view it online.
There are a few caveats I should warn you about, to make sure your experience is a good one. There is a bit of an anti-imperialistic rant going on, in a few chapters. If you are sensitive to that sort of thing, you may not want to play the game. I think it’s helpful to realize that the creators of this game are young (in their 20s, I think), so they may not see the world with the middle-aged (and older) views of some of us. I’d use the term “counter culture” but I think that would date me, and it’s probably not a term they would use. There’s also some swearing and off color language in some chapters, so if you bothered by this, you should not view the novel.
I don’t have any affiliation with the creators of Broken Saints, and I have never met them. I found the site, I am enjoying the story, and I thought some of you might enjoy it too.