After a decade of fiction classes, a degree in English, and hundreds of hours reading books and essays about writing, I’ve learned dozens of rules writers debate over. I’ve also found a few common threads that, for stories I care about, apply to almost all storytelling mediums. Terry Cavanagh’s Don’t Look Back demonstrates all of these threads perfectly and manages to tell an emotionally fulfilling story in (for a video game) a short amount of time.
This issue of The Backlog is going to explore Cavanagh’s masterpiece by exploring its story beat-by-beat. Since the main element of a video game narrative that separates it from any other medium is the interaction, I highly encourage you, the reader, to play the game before reading this zine. The game is available online for free here. It takes between 15 and 30 minutes to complete.
If you’ve already played the game all the way through, or you just don’t want to, then please keep reading. Otherwise be warned: the story will be spoiled. Unfortunately, it’s absolutely necessary so that I can demonstrate how Don’t Look Back is the perfect video game example of how to tell a story.