“Where To?” Review
Verdict: 2/5 stars. While competent in its construction and not really bad, the experience does not unearth anything revolutionary, and though it is made well, it is only made well and nothing more.
Ah, it’s the fresh scent of musk in the winter air, with fursuits – a – fluttering and Halloween costumes turning legions of impressionable young children into sexual deviants through the magic of pleasurable textures. Yes, for the first day of the grand Kratzen Wager, we discuss that particular genre which never fails to amaze, bewilder, and also make one realise that the last time they jacked off to furry porn was over a week ago and has to wonder what he’s been doing with his life in lieu of that. Or is that just me?
But no, this is a special type of furry game, where there’s no gangbanging to be had, no ironic self – depreciation (as it’s swapped out for the unironic type, you see), the OCs are not designed to be sexualised, and the box art specifically describes this title as “not a date! you are a professional taxi driver!”, to misquote it. Sure, you’re a professional now, but the instant some rich broad comes along you’ll be pulling a Millionaire Tour in no time. And like the box art says… nothing you idiots, the box art’s dead! Sheesh, just when I want to assassinate some characters, Itch decides not to load up! Probably just some government censorship thanks to my VPN, as no country is more famous for suppression of civil rights than… Norway.
So I’m going to have to read off my notes for this title — and wait just a minute! I’m taking notes now? I’m writing things down in an effort to recollect my thoughts and feelings towards a specific title during the period of time in which I publish my collective opinions in a critical dissertation? When the hecky did I get so professional? Maybe it’s all just a ruse so I don’t think spending $59.95 on designer pens was a massive waste of money. You know how Bic was spelled Bich before it came to the States? Yeah, that’s how they want you to feel.
So in lieu of my typical hilarious and charming discourse about a furry novel that doesn’t feature any tiddies and so is objectively worthless, in this alternate universe where the Burned Furs actually mattered and the fandom didn’t become as dependent on pornography as anime is dependent on teenagers in striped panties, let me read off some of my notes: “Two other games with this name on Itch”, “Depressing British worldview“, “Furry Reformations and the 95 Theses”, “Art style is kind of ugly”, “Make joke about my notes”. Where’s the joke? Christ, I prepare this all beforehand and I blow away my delivery like a loser…
How about that review, eh?
I’ll make this quick, as I just came back from a wicked midnight run and I can feel the dark night closing in on me, not to be confused with the Dark Knight who only visits on Tuesdays and who had a lovely time with my fun – sized Snickers. Oh, is this not also professional, updating your blog at 11:59 PM in a technicality in order to avoid having to pay up his fat wad of cash to starving artists who need it the most? Well, what have you been doing with your life — sitting on your fat ass playing video games? Yeah, that’s what I thought, you loser.
“Where To”, not to be confused with the Where To game, or the other Where To game (you see, those notes do come in handy), is a visual novel about you being a British taxi driver escorting a — MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS — mouse — MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS END — to a job interview. I know they’re British because the world is bleak, the graphic design is boring, the fashion is hideous, and the people speak a particular form of English that alienates everybody who doesn’t follow their speaking patterns. You see, the British are an anomaly of the Western World, being just similar enough to other cultures in order to seem normal, but show their vile Reptillian ways the instant one looks at them past surface level. You take too long a look at them — and watch out! There’s nothing more horrifying than a British woman.
Don’t think I’m being racist here — although I’m not, because it’s impossible to be racist against white people, for reasons that have never been fully explained and goes against all known definitions of the term. You see, the worldview of this novel is very much mired in its unique worldview, which is that you’re probably a basket case barely holding everything together and are likely to be out on your ass at any given moment, your only consolation being you might be in lesbians with your landlady. All the while you force out some silly memories of events past, and the mundane memories of the present, your recollections of life being just like life itself: a little banal but overall is a positive thing to experience.
The Mouse Turnabout
The mouse is too forward with her speech. If this was in Canada, where everybody is enthusiastic and cannot go two minutes without cracking a lame joke, then perhaps somebody would spill their life story at an instant. But given how politeness is too often confused with inscrutability, I must wonder if the author (who is a “small bun”, at least until proven otherwise) knows anybody in real life who’s willing to talk to a cab driver as opposed to sitting in silence, and if so, to discuss so much with them. Perhaps the author is a double agent who aims to discredit British culture. It’s like Earl Sweatshirt said: “Canadians are weirdos, though. They are so nice — overbearing nice, like grandmother nice. Toronto is like a city of grandmas.” .
What does the mouse talk about? Well, life, and stuff. It seems to be trendy to adopt a level of realism in works that did not exist before, in that Winston Rowntree way where everybody swears, spills their soul, and has a little cry while listening to rap – rock before life began imitating art and the world got a little less livable. Of course British English has no swears — except piss, shit, fanny, skank, arse, tart, wank, whore, slut, fuck, twat, cunt, minge, tits, clit, cock, bastard, bollocks, bellend, bitch, pennis, dicc, and balls — but even so the author deftly avoids this limitation through the medium of the billion or so other words we have to use, none of them fun to say and so ends up being functional prose, well – written, though nothing brilliant.
Perhaps I was brought down by the art direction of the novel, at first appearing horrifying to me because of how uncanny the mouse was, how the taxi interor had a style ripped from one of those Drivers Ed manuals, and the backgrounds looking like they came about a decade too late and tried to catch up on 2010s minimalism three years after it stopped being cool. The typography is functional, in the same way Helvetica is functional, but it’s not beautiful, and doesn’t have much personality to it; I was bewildered in the novel’s first fork when one choice had a smart apostrophe (’) and the other had a dumb one ('). How does that even happen? But I ended up getting used to the art style, and found the mouse charming in her construction, though the colours are still drab and as a result I would like not to emulate its palette. But then, what would I like to emulate?
Hmm… It’s alright. While I didn’t find it gave me much to chew on — especially given its short running time — I did find the prose at the very least functional, and the topics of some interest as opposed to simply existing. But the elaboration of the topics are just not there, in some effort to keep a conversationalist tone. It is this tone that makes the work suffer, as though conversations can lead to brilliant insights this work does not offer much at all, as I’m sure all adults are aware that being an adult is innately a frustrating and chaotic thing, and that the majority of our time is spent reducing chaos in favour of the illusion of order.
So I won’t be recommending this title, even though it does have some charming moments in direction, sound design, some neat aspects in its material design, and a soundtrack that has no business being this good; the mixture of trance – synths and wailing guitars is a combination that I need more of, in my face, right now. Yes, the work is competent. Yes, there is so much crap out there that this seems like a paragon of brilliance. But consider this: in the time I stopped reading this work to the time I came back to write about it, hours later, I had not thought about it once. Is this the type of art I am supposed to be recommending? Art so easily forgettable, a brief flash in our lives, only to be thrown down the memory hole and sucked out just like that? I think not.
I think the author will do very well to remain much more sincere in their future works, to be shameless in everything they do, and to find joy in the arts instead of seeing them as carefully – constructed creations of competencies as has been demonstrated tonight. First, one is an amateur, and they struggle to show they know the rules. Then, they are a professional, and they justify those rules by applying them in lockstep. Finally, one is a master, and then they break the rules to invent new ones… the author has yet to be a master, and I await the day they showcase this potential.
Oh, and one more thing. Despite the author using freely – licensed sounds in their work, they have decided to parasitically keep their visual novel locked under the copyright monopoly for the rest of their lives, and also fifty years after that. How they expect to spend their profiteering wages forty – nine years after their demise is beyond me, but the idea that I am in possession of a work that I can never truly own, as opposed to being leased to me as the whims of the law dictate, is deeply unsettling. Almost as unsettling as the author’s cold and distant public presence, existing only on Itch and keeping words at an awkward, insignificant minimum. How am I supposed to relate to this Moult? Who are you? Where do you come from, and why should I care? Questions, I feel, that will never be addressed, and with answers that will never be born.