The YAWHG is a randomized choose your own adventure game developed by artist Emily Carroll (creator of, among other things, the popular comic "His Face All Red" and the comic collection "Through the Woods") and Damian Sommer. The game can be played alone or with up to four players. If you play by yourself, you can choose to control all four characters, or stick to fewer. It is available on the developer's website as well as through Steam.
Despite having RPG style elements, the game is more of an interactive picture book, with very little in the way of animation.
If you are familiar with Carroll's other work, you may not need this warning, but for those of you who are fooled by the chipper and vibrant artwork: don't be. While it is possible-- depending on your luck and the random number generator in charge of what events you see-- that the game could be a quick and lighthearted fifteen minute ride with an uplifting ending for you, there are many more melancholic endings than happy ones, as well as several horror event chains that are downright graphic in their description (if not their images).
Plot and Mechanics
In a vaguely-medieval-fantasy setting, a city is doomed: the mysterious YAWGH is coming. As the title cards will tell you, the last time it was here, it destroyed the town and ripped families (and family members) apart. It will be arriving in six weeks, but unfortunately, nobody but us players know this; everyone else is living their day to day lives, with no real option to prepare.
Instead, every week you decide what your character(s) will be doing that week, and choosing how they react to whatever random events pop up until the YAWHG arrives. The only real hope you have is that you will somehow manage to bring their stats high enough through the six weeks that they will be able to recover from the YAWHG's destruction.
The four, color-coded player characters are as follows:
Miss Azure (the woman in blue)
Miss Cerise (the woman in red)
Mr. Aurum (the man in yellow)
Mr. Moss (the man in green)
The stats your characters have are:
And the places you can send your characters are:
The Alchemy Tower
Once you choose where the character will go, they are given a standard option for the activity they do there (if you go to the Forest, are you going to hunt, or are you going to chop wood?). Each weekly activity you choose results in your character gaining or losing stats. For example, tending patients in the hospital will give you points in Mind.
On top of that, each location opens you up to a number of location-specific random events. Some of these events are one-offs (such as finding a magic ring that does nothing but release a ghost and grant you +1 charm), but some trigger related event-chains as you progress. Some events will also trigger events for other characters who are in the correct location, or affect the map as a whole, rendering some areas inaccessible for the rest of the game. Some events may seem completely unrelated, and may not necessarily trigger one another, but turn out to be related in the epilogue.
For example, if you tend patients in the hospital, there is a chance for you to encounter the "Spiral Sores" patient, who may infect you with his eldritch illness. If this event chain isn't superseded by another one, and you didn't trigger it at the very end of the six weeks, your infected character will have a another magic-illness related event that will result in the destruction of the next location you visit, rendering that area unplayable. It's also revealed in the Bad Ending epilogue for your infected character that SPOILER. Another example is if you get the Vampire chain of events and get the part where you go on a killing spree, locking off that area for the rest of the game.
Due to the RNG aspect of the random events, it is entirely possible to not be able to complete an event chain because it was triggered too late. For example, if you choose to plant the magic beans in the garden on the fifth week, then choose to water them the sixth week, the YAWHG will occur before you have a chance to see what it's grown into.
At the end of the six weeks, the YAWHG arrives and leaves the city demolished. Now, you must choose what roles the characters you have will play in the rebuilding. The roles are:
The Town Drunk
The corresponding stat they have will determine if they're able to take to the role successfully; for example, if you want your character to take the role of Leader, they had better have a high Charm stat, just as the Conjurer should have a high magic stat, and so on. Likewise, some of the random events will also affect your ability to perform your rebuilding role, (for instance, if you go through the vampire event-chain and become the Leader, you will have a different experience than someone who is a regular, charismatic human).
The ending for the town as a whole will be determined by the roles and stats your characters have during the rebuilding. After, there are also the epilogues for your characters themselves. These character epilogues are based on the choices you made, random events you encountered, your end-game stats and role, as well as (in some cases) the random events of your other characters. It is possible to get a good ending for the town, but also have your individual characters meet poor ends.
I really like this game.
I first became aware of it because I'm a fan of the artwork of Emily Carroll, and this game is very pleasing to look at. As mentioned, there are a few dozen endings and random events, so there is plenty of replay value, which is good, because the game is pretty short. On top of that, some of the event-chains are downright chilling, which I love.