This week I experienced a Twine that hits pretty close to home. PANIC ATTACK! explores procrastination and the stresses that are caused by it. It could be that I was putting a lot of myself in the game but it seems to be geared towards personal projects and the typical “around the house” distractions. Regardless, this game uses a single system to great extent to convey the feeling of never having the proper motivation to accomplish a task.
PANIC ATTACK!’s use of repetition seems jarring at first. Every decision yields negligible progress and always takes the player to one of three screens. However, this cycle of pre-work, during work, and stressed out is integral to putting the player in the shoes of someone like me, easily distracted and prone to putting work off until last minute. The player is given many actions to choose throughout the day but never given the option to actually get the work done. That is to say the option is presented but the player can never choose it. Much like Depression Quest before it, PANIC ATTACK! explicitly presents options that are unavailable in an attempt to simulate the mind of a procrastinator. Naturally, the stress of the task, and the subsequent procrastination, lead to increasing stress as the due date creeps closer. When the player becomes excessively stressed they are presented with two options, breathe or escape. “Escape” presents the player with common media consumption — TV, books, and video games — to pass the time and decompress. “Breathe” allows the player to calm their nerves without utilizing time to do so. This cycle continues until the player quits the game, which is an option available at any time. The player is then informed that quitting is okay because we always have tomorrow.
While the game itself is fantastic, I do have some gripes about the interface. The color of the normal text and hyperlinked text are the same and I never knew what text could be clicked on from a glance. I could see this being intentional to give added effect to the non-selectable options(like the “Get right to work” option) but I feel it negatively impacts the flow of play more than it adds. This one is more of a personal opinion, but the colors used are a bit harsh for my tastes. The green text is fine but that neon background strained my eyes and I was forced to play in short bursts.
It is amazing how relatable this game is for me. Every design choice was expertly implemented to present a very specific experience to the player and it does so perfectly. I highly recommend this to anybody having issues empathizing with people who experience difficulty beginning projects.
Created by: swizzle kiss
Can Be Found at: http://philome.la/swizzle_kiss/panic-attack/play