Before he’ll be rescuing his abducted mother from Lovecraftian horrors in Harrison Squared, plucky young protagonist Harrison Harrison… will die? That’s for you to decide, as you play your way through Harrison Squared Dies Early, an interactive companion story to Daryl Gregory’s new novel.
As Gregory explains on his website, Harrison Squared Dies Early resembles those traditional “choose your own adventure” stories, except that it uses puzzles. You play as Harrison, as he sneaks into Dunnsmouth Secondary on a Saturday to track down a watery monster run (slithered?) loose. Gregory wrote the text and puzzles, and teamed up with artist David Hinnergardt for the art.
Harrison Squared Dies Early is a Twine game, a style of storytelling that links parts of the text to other parts (like old-school choose-your-own-adventure stories hosted on LiveJournal) and—here’s the especially cool part—changes text when you return to various parts, based on your decisions and actions. The chilling text-based horror game The uncle who works for Nintendo, which went live last fall, showed the effectiveness of Twine storytelling.
The narrator of Harrison Squared Dies Early is not identified (at least not in our first play-through), but she or he really does not want you to explore Dunnsmouth Secondary on a weekend. Really, you shouldn’t follow the wet water tracks, help your fallen teacher who’s bleeding from his head, venture into the cafetorium, or pick up any of the fallen items.
At least one of these items, the noble flukehorn, plays into Gregory’s puzzles. (Hint: You must cover six apertures, numbered 1 through 13, before playing it, and its creator loved math.) You also pick up self-esteem points for checking in rooms, even if there aren’t any clues, and trying valiantly to save your fellow students and teachers from this lurking creature.
How those self-esteem points come in handy, we don’t know, because we played through and died a nasty death at a pivotal moment. But you should give it a try! Don’t listen to that nagging narrator telling you to turn tail and go home. Follow the creepy sounds of moaning and tell us what you find.