When the game is flawed, there is nothing to win in the end. If you do not want to sacrifice your roots, honesty, morals, self-respect, trust, life, play another game.
Moral messages are nothing new in games. From the moral choice systems in big budget games, to the efforts of smaller studios, there is an attempt to humanize the experience with moral questions and decisions. This is the case in Elise Trinh’s I Wish I Had Not Played This Game, a fairly brief Twine that has you imagine the situations that helped create a high-powered executive.
Every node in this story is punctuated by two decisions. One is founded on regret (“I wish I had needed something else”) and the other is a winner’s, Type-A personality declaration (“I will win in the end.”) Neither one appears to actually change the route of the story. You are destined, in this case, to be a high-powered executive with a 20 something model wife, who probably hates his life and the sacrifices he made to be where he is. This is not, inherently, a bad thing.
In Kentucky Route Zero, you are occasionally given options to the route of conversation. You can choose to admit that your leg is damaged, or shake it off. Neither one actually effects the status of your leg, and in the end you are still temporarily crippled, but what it does change is the tone of the story. This is what I Wish I Had Not Played This Game is attempting, albeit on a smaller scale. Are you looking back at your past failings as a man changed, or do the ends justify the means. It can even be a little bit of both.
This linearity, of course, means that the game has zero replayability, and at the same time, I’m not sure you’d want to replay it (just based off of content). The language is alright, but a tad preachy. As the audience, you know early on that your character has made a huge mistake. A series of huge mistakes, and that these are the standard American Dream gone bad sort of ideals. He stays at work when he should be at home, he lets others fail when he should stand up for them, he compromises his moral system easily and with little regard. It’s the tale of “greed is good” that has been told several times over. There are occasional lapses in grammar, etc but nothing that makes it hard to understand. They are, however, present.
If you want to talk about morality and personal failings, then I Wish I Had Not Played This Game is for you. Either way, the game can be finished in about five to ten minutes, and is a short petit four kind of play.