The Temple of No is the first Twine game I’ve ever played. How do I know that, other than being me and knowing everything I do except for the hours when I’m asleep and dreaming about drowning in an ocean of spicy tuna sushi rolls? Well, for starters, I had to look up the definition of Twine before beginning the game. Evidently, when it comes to videogames, it means this: Twine is an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories. Basically, HTML-driven code that’s perfect for choose-your-own-adventure models, so long as it is inside a browser. I think you can pick your browser.
And that’s sort of what The Temple of No is, except it is more interested in breaking the fourth wall and ensuring you know that you are not the protagonist of the game than sticking to a structured narrative. The story is based on choice, and so you can either be a man, woman, or frog in search of a “map that sees all things that ever have been or will be (but in map form).” Yeah, y’know. Like the Marauder’s Map, but turned up to eleven. This amusing little jaunt is written by The Stanley Parable’s William Pugh and features gorgeous illustration work by Dominik Johann. Crows Crows Crows, the studio behind the equally free and interesting Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist, are also behind The Temple of No.
Despite its understandably short length, I only went through The Temple of No once. Sure, sure, I’m probably missing out on a ton of jokes and maybe even more bits of delicious, storybook-esque artwork, but when a game is driven by choice–in this case, what words I click on and in what order–I can’t help but see these decisions as firm and final. I followed the man of the story as he worked his way through the jungle and into the temple in search of the map. In my mind, I can’t simply undo that history to see what would have gone differently with the frog character despite being a huge fan of Chrono Trigger‘s Frog design. Psst: if you played through as the woman or frog, tell me a bit about their stories in the comments below. Okay, thanks, bye.
The writing is good and amusingly smart in places, though I did spot a few grammatical errors. Nothing major, just a missing period or word that was lowercased that probably should be capped. Since the game is heavy on text, it is important that the writing be strong, captivating. I found the clicking of words and timing of audio cues to be enjoyable, and there’s one bit where a man begins talking to himself…for a very long time. I eventually cut him off, but I do wonder just how long it goes on for. Regardless, that’s some solid dedication for a joke, but that’s what makes The Temple of No special. There’s great care behind it.
I guess I’ll have to keep my eyes open for future Twine games, as well as whatever comes next from Crows Crows Crows. I really do dig their aesthetic and versatility.