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Ms. Lojka or: In Despair to Will to Be Oneself

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A short hypertext game about ignorance, defiance, and freedom—or: self-knowledge, acquiescence, and fate. Takes about 15 minutes to play.

There are two significantly-divergent endings, but replays are intentionally discouraged.

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If you buy into the atmosphere and the mood, then you'll enjoy this. If you like to finish a story feeling like you've only scratched the surface of something deeper, then you'll like the ending.

But if you expect something deeper - if you want to find our what it means - if you want to know how it all connects ... you'll be disappointed. This is an example of a work that's much more interested in creating the spectacle and the mood and the atmosphere, than it is in having a cohesive, powerful story. The substance is pretty thin. The author description more or less tells you what the point is: "ignorance, defiance, freedom vs self-knowledge, acquiescence, and fate". That's the general theme, summarized. And that's all, really - there is no dimension or detail beyond the broad idea that fate is inevitable and denial of that is our only freedom. A very generalized, quasi-existential idea. Don't expect the story to make more sense than that - that's all that connects it all together.

So as a creepy, atmospheric experience, pretty good. As a story, flat and shallow.

It's the type of art that feels it's about the primal emotions that it evokes, rather than an enriched, complex inner substance. The story feels creepy and that's the point - it's not intended to be more than that.

As a game - it's not a game. It's not an interactive story. It's not interactive. It's a picture book, without pages, and a choose-your-own-ending at the conclusion.

First, this really isn't a game. Just my $0.02, this should be in either either in art or movies.

The artwork is stunning, the ambiance and music are perfect. Dialogue, not so much. But still a great piece of work. I'm not a big fan of decision-tree type stories, but this one was a cut above the rest. 4/5

Well, it's been a long time since I wrote a big mega-review, but the literary elements here call for it.
You've put a lot of work into this. After playing, I had some knee-jerk reactions, but I decided to think it over for a while, and I'm glad I did.

Before I say anything else, have you seen Gilliam's "The Fisher King" with Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges? Unless I'm completely mistaking your meaning in this story, I suggest you drop what you're doing and watch it now. Also, you might want to watch "Identity" with John Cusack.

First of all, the presentation: the visuals, which have a rough water-color appearance, are beautiful and evocative. Rasputin was particularly effective. I think Ms. Lojka looks a lot like Natalie Dormer, but less vibrant and more sinister. If you did this on purpose, it was a good choice; there's a seductive quality mixed in with her repulsiveness. The sound, of course, was also excellent. In an experience like this, the audio is vital to the atmosphere, and what you have here aids the immersion.

I only found a few mechanical issues: first, the slow type of the text is trying on the patience. A lot of people will want to click the mouse for complete segments and then read it at their level of comfort, rather than a forced crawl. This is essentially a virtual noval; people read at their own pace. Also, from what I can tell, many of the hypertext choices simply lead to the same outcome. Which brings me to my biggest question: why would you intentionally discourage replays? Any project with divergent paths encourages revisiting by its nature. It increases the longevity of the product. Discouraging that is like writing a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but telling readers not to try more than one path. If we like the project, we'll want to experience it in full. There's a reason why many virtual novels on Newgrounds give out separate medals for reaching different endings. More to the point, after putting a lot of thought into the story itself, I find myself WANTING to replay, to sit through the slow craw of the text with a new perspective and see what bits and pieces I may have missed.


The story, of course, is what this is all about. I have to admit: I was displeased at first, primarily because I went in with the wrong expectation. I think this happened because the initial setting is ill-defined. You're throwing so much fantasy and reality at us at the same time that I felt like you couldn't commit to one or the other, therefore neither could I. Even the sense of surrealism was muddled by the Narrator's self-assured declarations. I suspect most players who go in expecting a literal version of NYC, even if they know it's going to be scary, will find themselves alienated from the narration as soon as you start describing a mythical stone tower swaying to and fro in the middle of post-modern Manhattan. Going out of your way to place present-day business around it doesn't make it more realistic, it just creates more dissonance between the fantasy and the reality, especially since we don't know which aspect we're supposed to be embracing. Then, there's the bizarre witch living atop the tower, who has never been confronted by the authorities in spite of her villainy... just a mob of angry villagers. It was an uneasy blend of past and present, the two worlds didn't mesh for me, and I was unable to suspend my disbelief. Worse, the narrator rambled all over the place, and admitted he was rambling all over the place --a sign of unfocused interior monologue-- and began spouting historical inaccuracies about Rasputin. Then there's the zero-hour inclusion of the "My Little Pony breakdown". Is this supposed to be absurd? Or is Jordan Magnuson a Brony, who feels this sort an acceptable homage to something he loves? I also felt like you had a strange little bait-and-switch at the end, where those who search for knowledge before making a choice end up trapped. There really can't be a positive ending, to be honest, as you told us repeatedly through the text that if we failed to repair (or "feed") the tower, it would collapse, killing hundreds of people, and possibly the narrator. How much safer would "hanging up the phone" be? In the end, I feel like you were saying, "Defiance of who you are and denial of the past is the only way forward." I disagree, and that left me cold.

However, I thought about it for a while, read some reviews on other sites, and I realized that the story may work on deeper levels. Ultimately, I decided that what we're dealing with here is a case of extreme schizophrenia, in which Ms. Lojka, the tower, Rasputin, and Matt are all different facets of the Narrator's hallucination. This, of course, makes much more sense of the historical inaccuracies and My Little Pony dreams. It could be an even deeper psychosis, actually. Maybe these things are all disassociated pieces of his identity. His "Matt" aspect, defiant against the demons, was snuffed out by the more dominant traits.

On a sociological level, this could be a story about society and human nature, with the Narrator, Ms. Lojka, Rasputin, Matt, and the Tower all being symbols for different aspects. Perhaps we do build towers on the blood or our own kind, sacrificing all that is good and pure in order to feed the fires of greed and selfishness. (She killed lambs, right? Note that Jesus is referred to as the final sacrificial lamb). In that, Ms. Lojka is something we all bear in our subconsciousness. A more esoteric twist would have us wonder if Ms. Lojka is symbolic of something ancient deep within us, something we brought over from the old country an infused within our new-world culture. Something that's been lurking since Eden, or since time began.

Editorially, I can't say much. It could use a good copy-edit, but the text is much more competent than most of the "novels" posted on Newgrounds. I commend you for that.

But in terms of composition, I think you'd benefit from a stronger attempt at setting the scene. No doubt, some readers are going to miss your point completely by going in with the wrong intention, or being confused by your unwillingness to commit to one genre or the other. As a stand-alone horror story about demons and immortals in the heart of NYC, it doesn't quite work. There are too many conflicting elements. If you want the tale to work on a surface level, you might want to re-edit and re-order some of the rambling, and do your best to fit the horror elements in with the gritty realism. The tower, for example, could be depicted more like the building in Ghostbusters: an old, gargoyle-laden skyscraper with gothic features and a mysterious background, perfectly camouflaged into the city to mask its true intent. Here, the tower seems to be just an archaic stone structure that the city would have condemned decades ago, which confuses the reality we're supposed to be immersed in. I know muddling may ave been your intent, but it must be done carefully. Too much will shock the reader out of the story-world.

However, as the tale of a disturbed mind (or a disturbed culture) fighting against its own darker nature and alienation from reality, it does work. If you meant for the tale's reality to resemble what we'd see in an unhinged mind, or embrace symbolism... that is, if we're immediately stepping into a fantasy... we need a hint going in. I can only see this working as the perception of a pathological narrator or a non-literal story of inner exploration. For what it's worth, it works very well in that capacity. Enough to provoke this much speculation.

I appreciate the amount of work you've done here. I hope others have the patience to peer into it a little deeper.

Sorry to say but it was really boring. Mostly because the writing isn't good. The plot is plain stupid and i couldn't stand it. Maybe for somebody it would be more appealing but for me it's a big no!

Nice story. Nice artwork. Nice audio. Its a game ? NO.

Credits & Info

3.23 / 5.00

Oct 21, 2016
2:45 PM EDT