Review of "Jane"

Jane is a Z-code 5 interactive fiction game written with Inform 6 and is © 2002 by Joseph Grzesiak.

Review by David Welbourn

This game is about wife abuse, an unpleasant and difficult subject. Although Jane presents the story reasonably well, and portrays the topic in as good taste as could be expected, the story just doesn't go deep enough to explain why Jane and her husband are reacting the way they do.

We learn that an abusive husband may isolate his wife from all friends and help. We learn that violence can escalate. We learn that there is help for victims like Jane, but that she has to ask for it. What we don't learn is why any of this is happening in the first place, and we can't, because these people are ciphers.

The story mechanics borrows a page from Rameses: all choices have no useful effect except to advance the story on rails, which unfortunately makes things seem more hopeless than they ought to be. In effect, the game itself assists Jane's husband because it has a fixed story to tell. I think this might have worked better if Jane was given real choices to make, and if the game had multiple endings so we could learn which choices were good, and which bad. Otherwise, it just seems so hopeless, and I know that wasn't the intent.

Rating: 6.

✍️🏻 See my handwritten notes.