Discussion No. 9 — Known Unknowns, with Jim Munroe

Our game this month was the complete Known Unknowns, the four-part game by Brendan Patrick Hennessy with illustrations by Izzy Marbella. And this month’s podcast discussion guest was Jim Munroe.

Download mp3.

Thanks Jim for the great discussion. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. More soon!

1 thought on “Discussion No. 9 — Known Unknowns, with Jim Munroe”

  1. i really loved known unknowns! i played birdland, also by hennessy, before this but i don’t think i finished it. the conversation systems and art feel familiar here for sure.

    the formal changes really do jump out as jim said. having these unique languages for texting someone or watching a show or a high school memory or telepathically contacting a raccoon is very cool. there’s more out there twine games that have these dramatic formal shifts–KU reminded me of one by porpentine i played years ago but can’t find now–but this game eases you more gently into these segments by the narrative, as logical breaks from nadia’s physical reality. i like that something as little as looking at your phone can bring you into its world like that. (also the supportive whale text kaz sends you was very sweet)

    i just went back to check on the journal and characters screen now and again since i forgot to do that in my 1st playthrough, and seeing how anja’s entry changes DRASTICALLY when you’re at her house in the final part is an incredible detail to me. maybe i’m too used to character entries being a mostly static kind of deal in games (maybe because i forget to actually read them!) but still, its surprising to see it used as another way to bring you further into the protagonist’s mindset than for just listing off bullet points about characters. this secondary thing you could just IGNORE. there’s probably other stuff with it i’ve missed too, i don’t know!!

    i think the dating sim-like structure of birdland gave me the idea that this would branch off similarly? in this game choices are more like small tangents that don’t massively impact the narrative but yeah they’re so many and so intricate. its kind of mind boggling. also maybe another reason to ditch birdland’s structure was so that the relationship between nadia and anja would have the kind of focus it does, especially towards the end. its funny how i could see the “this person who hates you falls for you” thing from a mile away, but i feel like the game knows that and wears its tropes on its sleeve so its cool. plus the length of this work really lets all the characters breathe as interesting people even in the roles they play, so that helps to deepen their relationship too.

    there’s probably other things i could talk about, like the lack of class critique (to be honest i couldn’t relate to liking kipling out of a gut reaction to his upbringing) but i agree that its focus on poking fun at private academy life in that campy 80’s movie sort of way makes me not bothered by it all that much. i’m really just impressed that it exists because it might be the biggest twine game i’ve ever played.

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