In the House: Merging Fictional Realities in “The House Abandon”

The House Abandon is creepy tale about an interactive fiction inside of another interactive fiction...

The House Abandoned is creepy tale about an interactive fiction inside of another interactive fiction…

Length: Approx. 30 Minutes
Platforms: Desktop – PC and Mac
Price: Free

The House Abandon is a work of interactive fiction within a work of interactive fiction. The game itself exists inside another game, and this border between these two worlds is manipulated and twisted to provide a novel interactive “creepypasta” experience.

The piece’s frame narrative is set in a scene familiar to many children of the 1980s: A wood-paneled room with desktop computer connected to a woodgrain CRT television. The player uses this computer to play a text adventure, also called The House Abandon.

THA6

Just a peaceful evening, playing a game on the computer…

This game-within-the-game is a text-based work of interactive fiction in the tradition of titles like Zork or Adventure. Likely the style of game, like the room containing it, is similarly comfortable to many of the 80s generation.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

By typing commands, the player is able to find a key and a letter in a car’s glove box, enter the house, discover that the power is off, go around back and turn on a generator, and finally investigate the house, which turns out to be the character’s childhood home. Eventually you navigate up to the character’s bedroom only to discover the same computer on which the game is being played. When the world of the game collides with the world of the frame, both start to break down.

THA2

The title screen looks different… like it’s trying to tell us something…

The TV glitches out and the computer resets. The lights flicker on and off. The game looks the same, but the text is different. More ominous, frightening, dreadful. The note in the glove box, originally a loving letter from the character’s father, now reads “GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT.” This note is in the character’s hand throughout the entire game. Sometimes it bleeds.

Is it supposed to be doing that...?

Is it supposed to be doing that…?

The character turns the power on, just as in the original playthrough. The light next to the computer comes to life. An alarm clock starts blaring. You shut it off by typing a command, but who really did it: the player’s character, or the character being played by the player’s character? These two worlds, formerly on different sides of the simulated computer screen, have become intertwined, their boundaries blurred beyond distinction.

THA3

The second time around is a bit less idyllic than before…

There is someone else in the house, but which house: the textual or the graphical? And which person is that ‘someone else,’ the player or the character? Fictional fiction and fictional reality gradually merge as the character and the doppelganger — both controlled by the player — draw closer to each other. Like matter and antimatter, the paradoxical meeting of the double protagonists can result in only one outcome…

The House Abandon was created by No Code for the Ludum Dare 36, and is available on Itch.io.

About the author

Roman Kalinovski

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