Narrative

Narrative Flowchart:

  • Blue: Player controlled sections
  • Orange: Cut-scenes
  • Yellow: Obstacles
  • Red: Emotional triggers
  • Green: Composure points
  • Dotted lines: Connections between obstacles and triggers/composure points that aren’t linear – both are available to be encountered at any time.

 

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PDF version here: gdd narrative

The narrative events will unfold in respect to the map of the game as so:

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Opening scene:

Hope wakes up to rose-gold autumn sunlight streaming through her window. There are no curtains – they’re in one of the many boxes that litter the house, and the air is crisp and a little chilly. She hops out of bed, gets dressed and steps out of her room into the hallway.

Player gains control of Hope:

Hope makes her way down stairs, hopping over boxes in varying degrees of disarray, with text bubbles from her father’s conversation popping up at the edge of the screen, indicating his location in the kitchen. She finds him there, pacing backwards and forwards on the phone, anxiously talking to a colleague about a presentation that’s due on Monday that will land him a promotion. He mentions a pay rise, longer hours, more work.

Hope walks over to the toaster on the kitchen counter and pulls out a slice of cold toast, munching on it while the player reads Dad’s conversation. An interaction symbol will appear above his head as he paces towards her. Clicking on it will interrupt him, he will distractedly tell her he can’t talk. Doing this three times will trigger him telling her that he can’t deal with her right now, and that she should go explore, find something to do somewhere else. A little hurt, Hope will pick up her hat from the coat stand, pull it on her head and go outside.

 

Visions in the garden:

Out the back of their cramped terraced house is a small square garden, with tangled, overgrown grass that reaches Hope’s knees, objects from the last residents that have been swallowed up by the unkempt greenery. A football, a rusty old lawn-mower, a bicycle and a broken gnome. Hope picks her way through it with disinterest, then looks up to the trees behind the broken fence of her garden. A figure looms between them, vaguely human in shape.

“Mum?” Hope asks the figure, but it doesn’t respond, and simply flees into the woods. Hope pelts after it.

Cutscene 1:

The player loses control of Hope as she runs through the woods, surroundings becoming blurry the faster she runs, until she trips on a twisted root of a tree and goes flying off the edge of a ridge. She bounces down the steep hill, head-over-heels, before landing with a crash in a pile of leaves at the bottom.

 

Lost in the woods:

Hope picks herself up, brushing off leaves and debris, pulling her beanie more securely onto her head as she looks around and the player regains control. The player can try to get her to climb back up the ridge, but it’s too steep and she will keep falling down. Hope is forced to go the other way, engaging in a small section of environmental exploration which introduces the jump/climb mechanics.

Puzzle 1:

Obstacle: Hope encounters a group of kids about her age, all hanging out in the woods. Hope can either choose to interact with them immediately or try to walk past them. The latter will result in one of the kids not letting her past, but either option will end with confrontation with the kids, who tell her she’s not welcome on their patch and tell her to go back the way she came. She explains that she can’t as calmly as possible, recounting the story of how she fell off the ridge, but the kids have no sympathy, and simply state that she can’t go past.

Grief trigger: Frustrated, Hope tries to walk past again, and one of the kids pushes her away. She topples over as the kid laughs and goes back to talking to his friends. This is the first time the player encounters the grief mechanic. Hope’s form wobbles like a mirage before becoming translucent.

Solution: She stands up, walks back towards the group of kids, but none of them notice her. She walks by unseen, quizzical about why they don’t notice her. Once she’s past one of the kids shouts “Hey! Where’d she go?”

“Who cares?” The first boy replies dismissively, as Hope looks at her body for the first time and peers through the spectre of her own hand. She carries on past the kids to find a fence blocking her path.

Puzzle 2:

Obstacle: There is a teenage girl sitting on the fence, blowing and bursting bubbles in her gum. Hope can interact with neither the girl nor the fence.

Composure point: There’s a bush near the fence that Hope can crouch behind, introducing the composure mechanic as a glowing ring appears at her core and expands outwards and inwards, glowing brighter at certain points with a command prompt to show the interaction with the mechanic.

Solution: Once Hope has gained composure and returned to normal existence, she approaches the teenage girl and asks for help getting home. The girl apologises but tells her there’s probably someone at the church who can help. She hops off of the fence and opens it, allowing Hope to pass by.

 

A moment’s peace:

The woods drop away to reveal a graveyard, its green lawn impeccably kept, jagged headstones of different sizes and ages jutting out of the earth. A small, squat church takes up half of the environment.

Puzzle 3:

Obstacle: Hope can approach the back door, but it won’t open for her.

Grief trigger: Disappointed and somewhat annoyed, Hope turns back on herself, noticing for the first time a bouquet of flowers leaning against one of the gravestones. She cautiously goes to inspect it, but before she can even read the inscription, she notices that among the collection of wildflowers are some Japanese Anemones (this will be represented visually only, Hope will not mention why this triggers her) and Hope wipes away a tear.

Solution: Now in grief, Hope will notice an air current leading into an open window higher up in the church’s tower. She jumps onto the stone wall encompassing the graveyard, and from there she can double jump onto the current and be blown through the window.

The inside of the church is peacefully quiet, shafts of light spilling through the windows, with a stained-glass window projecting a kaleidoscope of colours onto one of the pews.

Puzzle 4:

Obstacle: Hope crosses the church, her boots echoing against the stone, and tries the door on the opposite side of the building. Instead of finding it locked this time, she discovers that she can’t interact with objects whilst in grief.

Solution: Exploration of the area after encountering this obstacle (teaching the player the intricacies of the grief mechanic) reveals the pew in the light of the stained-glass window as a composure point. Once in her normal state, Hope returns to the door and opens it, stepping outside.

 

Back to civilisation:

The path from the church leads Hope to a cluster of houses, all beautifully kept if not for the autumn leaves breezing  across the pavements.

Puzzle 5:

Obstacle: An aggressive dog begins barking at Hope incessantly, and the shies away from it, unable to pass no matter how much the player may try.

Grief trigger: Back the way she came, Hope sees a mother and her child at the gate of their house. The mother is on her knees, zipping up the little girl’s coat and pulling on a woolly hat. “Is that better?” The mother asks. The little girl nods. “Come on then, let’s go get some candy floss before the parade starts.” And the pair walk off. Hope shivers, wrapping her arms tightly around herself, and phases into grief.

Solution: Finding no other way forward but past the dog, Hope tries her luck and approaches it again. Now, however, the dogs whines and sniffs the air around her, wagging its tail enthusiastically.

Hope keeps going, past the little group of houses and into a large green park with a children’s play area in.

Puzzle 6:

Obstacle: The park offers two exits, neither of which Hope is willing to chance. She looks for a sign, but can’t find one.

Composure point: A bench, secluded from the others, offers Hope a place to gain composure whilst stroking a stray cat, even if the player hasn’t discovered the two exits.

Solution: Being composed allows Hope to talk to a father as he supervises his child playing on a swing, and asks him which exit leads where. He tells her that the first one leads to the high street, whilst the other leads out to the main road. “There’s no pavement on that one,” he mentions, “I’d go to the high street if I were you.” Hope takes the exit towards the high street.

 

The parade:

Music notes drift onto the screen as Hope leaves the park and wanders through a more built-up area of town, the houses becoming closer together until they form the high street. The pavement is bustling with people, the shop fronts decked out in autumnal decor and products. A busker stands on the street corner, jamming out on his guitar.

Puzzle 7:

Obstacle: The road ahead is closed off, a sign posted on one of the blockades reads ROAD CLOSED FOR PARADE.

Grief trigger: At any time, Hope can directly listen to the busker who starts playing “You Are My Sunshine”. Hope begins to cry, phasing into grief.

Solution: Hope is now able to double-jump over the road blocks and gain access to the other half of the high street.

Hope stops in her tracks as her stomach audibly rumbles. She catches a waft of smell coming from one of the food stalls on the high street.

Puzzle 8:

Obstacle: Hope can’t speak to the vendor whilst in grief. If she tries, her stomach simply rumbles louder.

Composure point: There is a small alleyway between a shoe shop and a chemists. Hope conceals herself in it and crouches down, taking a moment to control her breathing and gain composure.

Solution: Hope is now able to talk to the vendor. She pulls change out of her pocket and counts it – the amount is small. She asks the vendor what she can get with that amount of money, and he hands her a toffee apple with a smile.

Munching on the apple, Hope carries on down the high street, her spirits a little higher than before. However, the parade is beginning at the bottom of the street, and a large crowd gathers, jostling Hope about until her half eaten toffee apple tumbles to the ground.

Cutscene 2:

Grief trigger: The bigger the crowd goes, the more overwhelmed Hope becomes. Quietly she asks to be given some room, but no one can hear her as cheers ripple through the crowd at the sight of the parade. Hope begins to panic, shouldering people aside until the phases into grief completely and sprints away from the moving mass of people.

Hope dashes over the small bridge that crosses the river at the end of the high street, running until her legs can’t carry her any further and she flops down on the bank next to the river.

Puzzle 9:

Composure (Interrupted): As Hope tries to catch her breath, a voice appears from off screen. “A-a-are you ok?” Hope’s composure is immediately interrupted as the camera pans to reveal a young boy sitting on a stone wall, swinging his legs back and forth. Hope looks around herself, assuming the boy is talking to someone other than her, knowing she’s invisible.

The boy speaks again. “H-h-hey? A-are you ok?”

“Are you talking to me?” Hope asks, knowing that if he’s not, he won’t hear her.

The boy nods. “Y-y-yeah. You.”

Hope stands up, her plans for composure long forgotten as she walks towards the boy. “You can see me?”

The boy introduces himself as Teddy, and he asks again what’s wrong. She explains that she’s new to town but got lost, and she needs to go home again. Teddy puffs up his chest, bragging that he knows everything about the town. Hope asks if he knows where Ridge Cottage is. Teddy, slightly embarrassed, admits that he doesn’t, but they can find out by going to the library. He starts walking back the way Hope came.

“No!” Hope blurts out. Teddy looks at her, an eyebrow raised. “I-I just mean… Is there another way?”

Teddy smiles. “O-o-of course there is. We can go the b-b-back way.”

 

Adventuring with Teddy:

Teddy leads Hope to the back fence, a massive chainlink affair with a gate locked up with a heavy chain held by an iron pin at its centre.

Puzzle 10:

Obstacle: Through his stutter he explains that there’s no way to get past the gate except by unlocking it from the other side, which is fine, because theres a little hole in the fence just about big enough for him to crawl through.

Solution: Because Hope is still in grief, an air current that runs over the fence is visible. A simple double-jump gets her on it and flying over the fence to the other side where Teddy is trying to open the fence. He blinks at her, impressed.

They use the back entrance to enter the library. It’s a quiet place, with simple shelves lined with books, comfortable chairs and some tables for reading at. There’s some noise, however, coming from where Teddy says the map section is.

Puzzle 11:

Obstacle: On approach, it becomes clear that the noise is being produced by the same group of kids that pushed Hope at the beginning of the game. Teddy freezes in his tracks, his stutter getting significantly worse as he tells Hope that he can’t go past them.

Hope summons some bravery and marches past the bullies to get to the map, but as she flicks through them she begins to hear them laughing at her behind her back.

“Oh my gosh, it’s that boy again.”

“It’s a girl, dude.”

“Not with that haircut it’s not.”

Grief trigger: They start laughing, throwing out more useless insults until Hope starts boiling with rage. She whirls around, but before she can, she phases into grief. However this time the map stays in her hand, floating in midair.

Solution: She squares up and walks past, the map firmly in her grip. The bullies freak out, running away from what they loudly call the “ghost map”.

Composure point: Teddy and Hope start to laugh as the bullies leg it out of the library, and as they do, Hope, without controlling her breathing, phases back to normality.

 

Back into the woods:

Hope and Teddy make their way through the woods, following the river, the sun starting to sink in the sky and cast golden rays through the trees. As they explore, Teddy explains that the kids in the library bully him for his stutter at school, so much that he never goes anymore, and that’s why he knows so much about the town. When Hope asks why he doesn’t tell someone about it, he explains that his mum hasn’t been the same since his dad left her, and so he just deals with it, but avoids school as much as he can without getting into trouble.

They keep going, jumping over obstacles (Teddy sometimes crawling under them). A fallen tree creates a makeshift bridge over the rushing river.

Puzzle 12:

Obstacle and grief trigger: Teddy hops cheerfully across the tree, blissfully ignoring its unsettling creaking under his feet. He asks why Hope is always so upset. “What, did someone die?” He asks. As he jumps off the tree it splits in half, sinking deep into the river at the same time that Hope phases into grief.

Solution: With no air current available, Hope has to climb up a tree and double-jump over the river.

Obstacle: Now safely over the river, Teddy and Hope encounter a problem neither of them can solve: the ridge. There is a boulder a little way away, but Teddy can’t push it on his own and Hope can’t push it whilst in grief.

Composure point: Talking to Teddy at any time will reveal that he wishes he could disappear too. She explains to him that it’s not all what it’s made out to be, that sometimes it makes things difficult. Teddy understands, but still considers it to be a superpower. Talking will help Hope gain composure.

Solution: Teddy and Hope work together to move the rock up against the ridge. Hope jumps up and offers Teddy her hand, and they clamber up to the top.

 

Japanese Anemones:

Cutscene 3:

Atop the ridge is a large meadow of Japanese Anemones, giving way to green rolling hills peppered with golden-leaved trees behind. Instead of phasing into grief, Hope sinks to her knees among the flowers and sobs into her hands. Teddy kneels next to her, giving her a sideways hug. He asks her once more what’s wrong. This time, she actually explains what’s happened, that her mum has died three months ago and now her and her dad have had to move to a new town where she doesn’t know anyone.

 

Reality check: 

Back in the house, Dad looks up from his laptop to find the sun rapidly setting. He gets up to turn on a light, and calls out for Hope. He’s met with silence. He calls again. Nothing. The player controls Dad as he searches the house, going up to Hope’s room but finding it empty. He thinks back to the morning, telling her to go explore. His face pales. He pulls on his jacket and sprints out of the house.

Cutscene 4:

The player loses control of Dad as he runs through the woods, surroundings becoming blurry the faster he runs, until he slows as words appear off screen, Hope’s and Teddy’s. He stops and watches them as they wander up the pathway, laughing and talking. He sees the smile on Hope’s face, and realises that he’s let his priorities slip. He runs towards her, wrapping her up in a hug, apologising for not paying attention to what’s important. She forgives him, just happy to have her dad back. Together, Hope, Dad and Teddy walk home as the sun sets.

 

First day of school:

Hope and Teddy stand outside the school building, clad in uniforms, Hope listening patiently as Teddy rambles on about some video game or another that he’s been playing. It’s good to see them both at school, Teddy setting aside his fears and putting his education first. He explains that he told his mum what happened, and she’s spoken to the school.

The bell rings. Teddy waves goodbye and runs off to his class, Hope sets off in the opposite direction to go to hers. She stops as she notices a girl hugging herself as she trudges towards class. The girl flickers, then fades into grief. Cut to black.

 

The End.