I admit, reading the entries for IFComp is bittersweet for me. By nature, I'm rather hard on myself, and I have to say, I wish I were there too. But...it's okay. I'm taking it one step at a time, and meanwhile, I'm also reading these awesome games, a few of which I'll be writing reviews for this month. First on the list is this one by kaleidofish, author of previously reviewed titles Venus Meets Venus and Fairly Dangerous. I do tend to gravitate toward the familiar, but I was also intrigued by the premise being about polyamory, something I'm interested in seeing more games about.
Nowhere Near Single follows up-and-coming pop star Jerri, who meets a girl named Sarai at a bar and accidentally stumbles into a polyamorous relationship with her and two other girls, Nayeli and Taya. Jerri struggles to balance her attempts at breaking into pop music with the professional image she is expected to maintain, all while trying to figure out a new relationship with not just one but three different girls. Matters complicate themselves when Jerri's manager learns about Taya and decides to push the image of them as a couple, which leaves Sarai and Nayeli feeling left out. Secrets and lies pile up on all sides; will Jerri make it through everything in one piece?
The four main girls are each complex and interesting characters with things to hide, and the way they mesh together is interesting to read. They're mismatched on a number of fronts, but they're all trying their best to make things work, and even if you don't have three girlfriends, even if you aren't dating a pop idol, the problems they deal with are relatable.
The writing style isn't quite as harsh as Venus Meets Venus, but fits well with the story and tone overall. The game also feels less linear, as it is possible to have different variants to your ending. Without wishing to spoil, where you're at and who you're with can change vastly depending on your choices, and it's great to have that degree of control over where things go, even if I'm constantly worried I'm going to fuck something up with someone.
As previously mentioned, I'm glad to see polyamory being explored as a topic here, and I think it's handled extremely well. I feel like the subject isn't brought up enough in games, and it's something I eventually want to write about myself.
The only really negative thing I can find to say about the game is that I did run into a coding error at one decision point. It didn't seem to affect my playthrough at all, but in the interest of full disclosure, it did happen. From what I can decipher from the error message I got, it was some kind of issue with variables.
All in all, a very strong entry in IFComp, and another great game from kaleidofish.
Nowhere Near Single is available to play or download for free on the Interactive Fiction Database.
Final verdict: Nowhere Near Single is a strongly written game with excellent characters, and it does a great job of sensitively handling a topic that needs to be brought up more in games.
Nowhere Near Single is written by kaleidofish. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.