Deserter: A Game of Sorority follows the journey of a person desperate to escape war

Two recruits — a soldier and a medic — have both had their fates intertwined, and a hard choice made in Deserter: A Game of Sorority.

Deserter: A Game of Sorority, from Daisy Fernandez as part of NTFS at EGX, is a short-form narrative experience with light puzzle elements. Less than thirty minutes is all it takes to explore the extent of Deserter’s poignant journey; from battlefield’s edge to the journey beyond, its two characters — one rendered unconscious — must push and push forward to finish the journey.

Even though Deserter was pitched as a narrative game, its visuals — often playing darkness against light, and the protagonist’s medic uniform against the snow — stuck out as strong as the spoken dialogue. As Deserter twists and turns, the relationships between the soldier and medic role grew. I never knew the value of the character on the protagonist’s shoulders, however I found it very hard to leave them behind when the game asked me to use their limp body for a puzzle before heading out of sight. The character slung over your shoulder feels like a critical part of the character, so putting them down to activate a pressure pad… it feels like cutting away a limb.

However, the journey for the protagonist, as it turns out, is neither as transparent nor as symbiotic as it seems at first. As a matter of fact, identity and purpose are turned on their head in the half an hour the game takes.

Another standout moment was the Deserter’s pacing; from the intense moments where guards nearly opened fire on you, pure luck deciding the protagonist’s fate… to a farm owner, who has had enough of the local military’s business, rushing out with torch and gun in hand to shoot trespassers, Deserter’s pacing is exceptional, and it was hard to put it down.

In fact, it was hard to put it down once it ended; when I asked Daisy about the rest of the journey I was surprised to find she had no intent to continue with the narrative. The experience definitely had a beginning, middle and end, but it felt like the end of a chapter rather than anything else. In retrospect, that simply signifies that Deserter is a novella, or short story, versus the novel-length games we are used to, which feel they need to tie every knot or justify every strange choice.

Deserter: A Game of Sorority is in development for PC. You can follow development on Twitter.

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