Platform Reviewed: PC
Platforms Available: PC
Publisher: Owlchemy Labs
Developer: Owlchemy Labs
Release Date:March 25, 2015
MSRP: USD $14.99 (Php 419.95 )
Your choices will lead you to your survival or your demise. Choose wisely.
Dyscourse is a choose-your-own-adventure developed by Owlchemy Labs with the help of crowdfunding via Kickstarter. Dyscourse just got recently released last March 25 and is now available on Steam. It heavily plays on the premise of making a choice and facing the consequences that lie behind it. The goal is to be able to survive the island for as long as possible or until help arrives and to do that, players must not only be resourceful but must also be aware of their fellow survivors’ skills and expertise to be able to overcome whatever obstacle the island will give.
Dyscourse’s story revolves around a group of plane crash survivors stranded on an island. Players get to play the survival game through Rita, an art student turned barista, who got lucky enough to survive with five other passengers of Dysast Air Flight 404. As Rita, you get the chance to make the decisions for the group and every choice you make will either add to the chances of your survival or place you and your group a step closer to your untimely deaths. With all the choices resulting in different outcomes, players will be faced with different stories and endings in every playthrough.
SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t played the game yet, I suggest you play it first before reading ahead as some of the key points of the game may get a little tricky for me to explain without divulging anything that might spoil your gameplay. Nevertheless, I will do my best to keep the spoilers at bay and if you wish to read on, tread with caution. You have been warned.
Basically, the navigation and controls used in Dyscourse is done with a keyboard’s directional pad and space bar or with a game controller. Through Rita, you are given the chance to explore and interact with the island’s environment. Markers show up on key items that will indicate whether you can observe them or interact with them somehow. You can also interact with your fellow survivors and engage in short dialogues. Through these dialogues, you can gain more information about the survivor which you can use for your group’s advantage when faced with an obstacle.
As the game’s main premise, making decisions will change the course of your story. On several occasions, you will be given a set of choices depending on the current situation you are in. It is important to take note of the choices you make, the outcome you get, and in what order you made them as these will become useful later on. There are moments when you only have a limited amount of time to make a decision so you have to think fast. You must also be aware that whatever happens to you and your fellow survivors will definitely have an effect on what choices you can make further in your playthrough.
If you made a decision and it doesn’t work well, your group will suffer the consequences. Either they get hurt or they die. Death seems to be following you in every decision you make while you are stranded in the damned island. Death comes in different forms; it may be as simple as starving to death while some are as gruesome as being killed off by a flying disc. On any occasion, your goal is to survive, may it be with a few of your fellow castaways or by yourself. In Dyscourse, the stories emerge from the choices you make and drama will come to your group sooner than you think. It is up to you if you want to let your emotions get the best of you and your decisions or stay headstrong and choose what course of action you think is best.
As mentioned earlier, it is best if you take note of every choice you made and consequence you faced, as well as the order you made them. In Dyscourse, there is a feature called “day reset” which you will unlock after your first playthrough. With day reset, you can replay the particular day you had gone through and change the course of the story by picking the other option which you didn’t choose on your previous run. It’s a real nifty feature especially if you are after the completion of the whole “story map” of Dyscourse or if you just want to find out what would happen if you let Teddy live instead of George.
Despite being a choose-your-own-adventure game, the visuals done on Dyscourse is remarkable. Players would be able to enjoy roaming around the island with its rich and vibrant colors and simplistic vectored art style. The paper pop-out look of the scenery and the characters is a nice touch considering that the nature of the game was made popular through books; it makes you feel like you are actually following the story out from a pop-out book. The artists that worked on Dyscourse really did a great job of making the island look so homey and relaxing like it is a really nice place to stay in for a vacation which contrasts how dangerous and how hostile it actually is.
At first glance, you might think of Dyscourse as just a simple story-driven game. The real beauty of Dyscourse is revealed piece by piece for every playthrough that you do. The selling point of this game is its replay value because with all hours a player can spend from going through all the possibilities while uncovering all the content that this game has to offer. The guys at Owlchemy Labs put so much effort on packing in this amount of content in this game and making all of it work well enough to be able to tell several good stories. To be honest, the reason why I sounded so vague in describing how the game goes is because I haven’t uncovered all of Dyscourse’s secrets yet. There are walkthroughs already available for players to check and there is even a guide on how to achieve a 100% completed game. For now, I have to restrain myself from looking at the walkthroughs and the guides because I still want to enjoy the thrill of uncertainty from not knowing whether or not it is possible that all six of the survivors, eight if I count the other two I have encountered so far, would be able to leave the island alive.
If you are the kind of person who likes playing games for their stories but hate going through stories as long as novels, then Dyscourse might be the game for you. The game can be long enough to keep you engaged with its storytelling but it can also be short enough just so it can satisfy your curiosity on the “what would have’s” and “what could have’s”. What is definite is that once you play Dyscourse, you wouldn’t just play the game once.
Owlchemy Labs really did a great job on presenting Dyscourse as a choose-your-own-adventure game with its eye-catching visuals, simplistic but deep storytelling, and superb choice-to-consequence dynamic. A must play indeed.
This review is based off a copy provided by Owlchemy Labs.
Dyscourse is now available to purchase through Steam.
Have you managed to save all of the survivors yet? Leave in your answers below and your answer might win you a plane ticket courtesy of the good people at Dysast Air!