Howling dogs is a link based game, played through the narrative perspective. As a player you undergo a virtual reality which simulates different rooms and actions. There is a prologue at the beginning of the game which initiates the setting and the proceeding commands. “The text contains the prologue description of the IF world given before there is any opportunity for the interactor to give a command” (Montford 16). The game is open to many interpretations, the prologue sets us in a room in a hospital surrounded by dark metal and fluorescent lights. We don’t know much about the player character, only that he has been woken up by a nurse due his sobbing. “The player character could be the “nameless adventurer” “(17). As a player you have no real impact on how the story progresses, you just have to follow a certain order, clicking the links to lead you to the next clue. There is no real ending to the story. There are many situations you run into that are emotionally wrenching for example murder or abusive relationships… the plot is left uncertain.
The elements of interaction in the game are propelled blue links which appear within sentences of the text. You must interact with the text to get more of the story. You have to follow some sort of order for instance you can only interact with the activity room once you’ve completed the action of food and drink. “If the interactor couldn’t figure out what to do here, it could also be useful to explore the parts of the IF world that are, as yet, unseen, to see if they holds objects that can be directly used to solve this dilemma” (20). This command is sort of relatable to a human as basic needs are a priority. “The interactor can command the player character to sense things in the IF world or to take some action that will affect the world” (16). the text is very well developed and you must pay attention and engage with the text in order to follow the proper commands.
You can map out the layout of the space. There is the activity room which can only be accessed once you visit the nutrient dispensers. The shower is located in the lavatory and can only be used once a day, the trash disposal and the sanity room and lastly the photograph.
Once you eat and hydrate you can access the activity room. By clicking the link PULSES we are propelled into a different reality. Every time you complete one reality you fall asleep and must repeat all actions from the beginning. The game gets very repetitive, but it is interesting to unlock all the different realities and possibilities.
Montfort, Nick. “The Pleasure of the Text Adventure.” In Twisty Little Passages. Cambridge, MA:MIT Press, 2003. 1-36.