Welcome to Moreytown (PC) review
"Sometimes the Best Stories Are Told at the Wrong Time or Wrong Place"
Sometimes It can be difficult to evaluate whether mediocrity should be thought of as an offense to the pedigree of an established series or an excuse to enjoy its own moments. Welcome to Moreytown is brimming with potential to tell a story about an interesting setting/premise that feels squandered not only as a piece of fiction but also as an interactive one. Beyond the simplistic crime-fiction narrative, there is so little of an author’s voice to make it sufficient to judge the quality of his writing. The best thing I can say about the story itself is that it’s an anthropomorphic narrative that feels neither tainted nor corrupted by its intended audience, something that I cannot say about major publications nor minor projects. If there is anything strictly positive about Moreytown it is that it is enough of a teaser to want to invest into the Moreau series, which is what compelled me to purchase the Moreau Omnibus as I hope these books delve further into its merits.
It should be noted that Welcome to Moreytown was my foray into the “Choice of..” games followed by Choice of Robots. This was intentional as I wanted to have no expectations of what these games offer before playing a highly-regarded one gifted to me as my barometer. As a result of this approach, I believe this provided insight on how and why choices in “Choice of…” games are effective. While I do not want to approach this review with the “Good Game, Bad Game” attitude, this approach will make it sensible for people to understand the differences in quality as well as draw out for the developer where Moreytown can improve and to provide an example in action. (This won’t include spoilers of either game if you are concerned.) While these games may feel like comparing apples to oranges, both games tell linear narratives with different approaches to reward choices.
Moreytown suffers from superfluous decisions that add nothing to the story you create such as your species, your romantic interests and your flavor text of meaningless actions. Even with some decisions being based on species’ stats and preemptive measures like preparing for a fight, the overall journey is not one shaped by the player. Conditions have little impact on future choices, stats remain stagnant beyond the romance opportunities, and the only real decisions that have payoff are the different results at the end. The greatest pitfall of Moreytown is how it is the role of these romantic side-activities and the multiple endings to satisfy the player’s curiosity as you play, which makes the decisions you accumulate all too meaningless because the plot ignores them.
In contrast to Moreytown, Choice of Robots is a linear narrative that tells the accumulation of your decisions about the robot you create, providing meaning in the moment and in the future. This focus is more beneficial because the flavor-text has immediate results on the story you create, and the accumulation of ever-changing stats adds value to moments such as teaching a robot empathy by playing video-games. The overall script remains largely intact like Moreytown yet all these additional touches, including alternative scenes to chapters and multiple endings, tells a more personal story. This does not even include the romance opportunities that challenge the player to value whether to spend more time bonding with another person or their own robotic creation.
Each game’s systems are virtually identical, so illustrating how Moreytown can create its own ideas, such as balancing the “pinks’ (humans’)” support’ and the moreaus (non-humans), would make all decisions tell a more dynamic narrative. The ending itself should not be the destination we sought after but the moment to reflect on what decisions we made that led up to that final moment.
As much as I may appear to harp on Moreytown, it’s out of passionate constructive criticism because the world it sets up is the one thing that made me invested enough to read more about it. The world around Moreytown is one inspired by The Island of Dr. Moreau after nations have invested in scientifically questionable projects to create anthropomorphic animals for war. Eventually these experiments led to a civil rights movement to establish a constitutional amendment recognizing their humanity with all the same inalienable rights, and integrating them into society is the challenge the game always teases will be the main dilemma. Except the story itself has nothing to do with this set-up.
Instead, the plot is largely focused on events after all these initial problems were established, taking place in the moreau slums years later where the events that led up to the story have already been set into motion with you as a bystander borne from the past. This game’s plot is a clear example of a narrative that did not ask itself the question, “Is this the most interesting part of the story? If not, why are we not reading about that story?” What we get in its place is a simple crime drama with exposition around these more interesting events with a clear emphasis on the writing taking a backseat where a niche audience is meant to excuse its shortcomings. Perhaps the point of not setting it into the past was to intrigue new readers to check out the author’s other works, yet that shouldn’t have resulted in a creating a subpar piece of interactive fiction to entice people to go read books.
Again, I want to reiterate that the narrative itself is entertaining enough on its own to excuse this game from receiving more ire because I don’t believe it was done out of malice, more so from ignorance. This interactive fiction feels like a novel writer trying to write a game like a book, failing to see the innate differences, and the execution of its storytelling and of its choices proves there were misconceptions made about what the audience values. Unless you wish to support the developer’s game itself, it seems more preferable to read his stories instead because they are likely to be more entertaining with a writer set in his own environment where he knows his rules and limitations. Hopefully lessons learned from Welcome to Moreytown will inspire the writer to give interactive fiction another chance in the future to give the game its proper justice.
Community review by Brian (September 05, 2021)
Current interests: Strategy/Turn-Based Games, CRPGs, Immersive Sims, Survival Solo Games, etc.
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