Every now and then, the visual novel/interactive fiction community has what they call "jams". This is basically where you spend about a month or so and fully develop a game. You can't work on the game beforehand (although you can update it later). It's basically NaNoWriMo for games. The last game I reviewed, Those Without Names, was for NaNoReMo, a visual novel writing jam. This game was for the Magical Girl Jam, which involved creating a visual novel or interactive fiction game involving magical girls.
The story is...very hard to describe. Basically, you are a girl trapped in a room. Every day, you process information, possibly for customers of some kind (there is mention of a contract). You can hear things on the outside and want to escape, but failure only leads to pain. But once you do manage to make contact with someone outside and learn that escape is possible, how could you turn it down?
Gameplay in ♥Arachne♥, like a lot of interactive fiction games, is pretty much just about reading the text. Occasionally there will be what I'd call "hot phrases" such as those pictured above; you can click on them to either gain more information or advance the story. There isn't any option to go back and make a different choice, or to save, which makes it a little frustrating when you realize that you've advanced the plot but also missed a choice you could have made. From what I can tell, though, this is something of an industry standard, so I'm not sure I have much room to complain.
The storytelling is stark and minimal, and puts me in mind of poetry. I am kind of a poetry buff, so maybe I'm biased, but I like it all a lot. You're given small details periodically, but most of the setting and story is left to you to infer. I didn't even need that much detail to get into the shoes of the protagonist.
The game is short; you can complete it in about five minutes without much trouble. It only has one ending, but the ending it has fits the story quite well. It does leave a dangling sequel hook, and I'm a little disappointed that the author doesn't seem to have any intentions of writing more in the setting. However, I liked what I got; it was quick and simple, yet beautifully elegant. If you have a few minutes to kill, go give it a click.
♥Arachne♥ is available to play for free on philome.la.
Final verdict: Though its short length can leave you wanting more, ♥Arachne♥ has an impressive minimalist writing style that works well, and what world you do get is dark and engaging.
♥Arachne♥ is written by fractoluminous and built by colinmarc and trucy. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.