The Suicide of Rachel Foster Critique
Narrative driven games are hard to get right, arguably more so than a "normal" game. You not only have to nail the story, but also the audio visual elements as well. If you do not, any one part will immediately stand out like a sore thumb, due to how one interacts, plays the game. There is also the inherent issue of creating a story which will draw the player in – something which they will want to spend their time on.
As a video game, The Suicide of Rachel Foster does not have exceptional graphics, nor does it revolutionize the world of audio design. Though that is not to say any of those elements are particularly bad either – the graphics is more than acceptable, and the audio quality lies comfortably in the upper average percentile of games in its genre. What it does have, is an interesting concept for a story and fairly engaging opening and mid section. The conclusion, however, leaves a lot to be desired.
Looking at the antagonist, if one should even call him that, is a good example of how the game fails to deliver a satisfying payoff to one of its core mystery elements. The very second the player speaks to the mystery-man on the "mobile telephone," it should be quite obvious to anyone with even a modicum of understanding of the technology, that his explanation of how he has managed to contact the main character is dubious. The only logical way he could have connected to the receiver, is if he himself is located within a relatively short distance.
The constant audio chatter back and forth between the two immediately comes across as grating. Not only does the novelty of the added static to an already somewhat questionable audio recording wear off quick, but as one knows the man on the other end is not who he claims, the conversations they have comes across feeling forced and generally strange. The more one hears of his explanations for how he knows what he does, the more one can't help but question of the plot is deliberately trying to "subvert expectations." As such, when the big reveal happens at the end, it completely and utterly fails to surprise; instead giving way to a feeling of utter disappointment – that the truth was, in fact, so incredibly obvious from almost the second the game started.
In some ways, one could argue that having the "mystery" of a story to be just as simple as one first guessed is a way of subverting expectations, since we're so used to have a grand twist to every story. However, that would require the story to have been engaging enough to care for to begin with.
As a creator who dabbles in writing myself, I find the beginning and end to a story to be the hardest part of all. I would be willing to wager many, if not most others will at least find themselves facing that same problem at some point, at least to some extent. Of course, I do not know every one creator by heart – perhaps that is just a me problem – but considering the amount of stories I have experienced in one form or another, which has had severe issues with their conclusions, I do believe there is at least some merit to that assertion.
The binary choice ending does not make for a very satisfying final impression either. There is a lack of buildup to an "insanity"-ending and as such causes one, as a player, to practically feel the narrative whiplash as a consequence. It feels unoriginal and lazy. Instead of crafting a decisive ending, one is left with an ending which is needlessly opened-ended for no good reason. The game is very much on rails for 99 percent of the experience. The game did not improve from introducing a choice ending, and it certainly could not ever have hoped to with such a poor implementation.
Finally, The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a decent game if one only judges it by its individual parts. However, the sum of those parts leaves a lot to be desired. The game could have benefited from a less contrived-feeling ending, and a somewhat more believable technical explanation for the mobile telephone; but it is still an interesting enough story to justify the roughly two hours it takes to play though.
English: The Suicide of Rachel Foster
Russian: Самоубийство Рэйчел Фостер
Developer: ONE-O-ONE GAMES
The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a mixed bag. The ending leaves a great deal to be desired, but the story up until that point is arguably worth the roughly two hours.