A downloadable game for Windows, macOS, and Linux

A parable about agency, and how three people choose to navigate it.

  • Combined word count of 60k
  • A bonus for completing all three games
  • Fully voiced dialogue
  • 22 original musical tracks

The three tales, each unique in their own right:

Beyond Yesterday's Grasp

"When she is given a full scholarship to a prestigious boarding school, Alex Kartha feels hopeful for the first time since the accident that killed her parents and took her forearm. However, she soon realizes that old challenges cannot be easily ignored. Will you solve the mystery of Artemis Hall? Or will you turn away from your duty and value your life?"

Features branching narrative paths and five endings.

Let Go.

"Today is like any other Winter day. Snow's on the ground, there's a chill in the air, and Eli is about to confess to his childhood friend. Terrified of rejection, he practices his lines underneath a tree in the city, preparing for whatever may come. There's nothing to be afraid of - he's known her forever, right? But unbeknownst to him, something feels off… Hasn't he done this before?"

Features an evolving relationship, dark comedy and many first dates

If in Your Dreams; the Flood

"The Flood. That's all Ophelia can think about. Ever since she was a young child she dreamed of the water, slowly making its way, higher and higher. Now she's about to turn eighteen, and the flood will soon overtake her. In a desperate attempt to avoid her fate, she stays awake throughout the night, wandering the late Seattle cityscape. It's there that she meets an unfamiliar friend."

Gameplay order determined by choices.

Download

Download
CautionaryTale-1.1-pc.zip 756 MB
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CautionaryTale-1.1-mac.zip 740 MB

Development log

Comments

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(1 edit) (+1)

Although the tales are set in supernatural world (two of them, at least, I regard The Flood as slice of life), they contribute beautifully to the Narrator's sense of reconciliation. 

For some, the lost of main characters' or in-depth background story (especially about the Narrator's behind the scene story before they read the memory lane of the books, there is a potential right there!) sure could make the tales as losing their substantial to the theme, but then these tales also give room of imagination regarding the said background or situation of the main characters to become relatable humane to the reader about the general problems they face in life. 

Because in my opinion, whatever your background (age, gender, race, etc of social-cultural status) and in whatever forms the problems take; you may encounter or familiar to a situation in which you are : trying to cope with past, or being "normal", and the options and consequence of running away with it or sharing the burden and bravely face the core problem (Beyond Yesterday's Grasp), escaping terror of beloved ones dying and trying to accept it willingly or coming to the term exhaustedly with time (Let Go), and uncertainty of coming-of-age or your way of life in general (The Flood). May it later be elevating or destructive, they are cautionary tales anyway, aren't they? ;)

And of course, there is this already mentioned problem : the Narrator abruptly told the reader that they had finished ALL of the books (meanwhile I just only had read ONE of them :'D ), so it came as awkward and the epilogue were kind of lost from me for a moment.

Overall, it's an anthology of tales that worth to read and left the sense of relief, even if it's just a little bit. Keep up the good work ^^

Yeah, we definitely didn't have a lot of time to work on the GUI and the meta interactions, which did detract from what we were trying to do. It was rough making all three games in a month, but that's no excuse - we've learned from this and will definitely be on top of it next time! We never really prioritized GUI in the past, but now we know that we really should :)

Thanks for the feedback! I'm very happy that people have enjoyed this game despite the relative lack of polish, and I promise we'll revisit it to make it less buggy and easier on the eyes visually. 

I'm glad you got the title ;D I spent a while finding a good one. I think the meta narrative (the story inbetween the games) will be more clear with a touch up and with the release of the game that character stars in - Avitus. This Anthology was (not so) secretly tied into our flagship release, which I'll have to reintroduce to our fans sometime soon.

Again, thanks for playing - it means the world to us!


Wolf, Watercress Studio Director (and Cautionary Tale Project Director, Let Go. Game Director)

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This game is wonderful! I've really enjoyed all three stories.  The stories and characters were all interesting so interesting! The music and sound effects were all fitting, and the VA's all did a fantastic job! The only issues I had were a couple of technical glitches, of which others have already informed you about (though they did not hinder my enjoyment of the game at all!)

Beyond Yesterday's Grasp: The number of endings and choices really made this one interesting! I was able to discover them all, though getting the True Ending was the most difficult. When I finally found it, I was very happy that Alex and Caelum were both getting a happy ending together.

Also, as someone who is trans myself (non-binary), I was happy to see how that part of his character was handled in the story, and ((minor)Spoiler) that in the true ending he finally made it into the proper housing (End Spoiler). It was really nice feeling recognized and validated through this story, and I hope others are inspired to write characters like Caelum into their own stories after playing this.

Let Go: While I've thankfully never been in a situation where someone I care about has died, I was able to sympathize with Maya and felt her conflict within myself. She and Eli had a wonderful dynamic, and while I wish they could have had many more days together, the ending is fitting for the story, and neither route left me feeling cheated per say.

If in your Dream; The Flood: As someone also approaching legal adulthood, I can very much understand Ophelia's stress and the need to get away for a while. The things she learned on her journey are all things we could use reminders about.


Overall, I really enjoyed all three of these stories and I found their themes appropriate and relevant to me as an audience member. Best off luck to the whole team on their next projects!

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You made only this post and registered the same day post was created. Yeah, totally not a puppet account of developers.

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I'm going to have to ask you to stop harassing our fans, please. We don't make puppet accounts - we're too busy for something like that, even if we wanted to. I really do appreciate the feedback you've given us and others in the EVN community, but your rhetoric here is offensive to the community at large. Just because someone is trans doesn't mean they are fake - while where you live it might be less common, trans people aren't uncommon here in the west. You'd be hard pressed to find a college student who doesn't know a trans person here!

Also, the EVN community is a very  LGBT positive community, which naturally attracts a lot more trans people (as it's a place they can be more free of abuse). So, believe me, you will see plenty more trans people around these parts - and Watercress, roughly 30 people strong, is about 50% LGBT, with more than one trans person working for us. You'll see a lot of that in the EVN community :)


Wolf, Watercress Studio Director

You can not believe me, but I really hope that I'm wrong. I like your studio for creating "Our home" and thought that you can resort to puppet accounts makes me sad. ( Even if you did it, please don't do it again. ) This is my last post about your possible puppet account because here I already said all what I wanted to. So don't worry, I won't be nagging you about it anymore.

"Just because someone is trans doesn't mean they are fake". Of course I agree, there is no 100% guarantee that the user isn't really a transgender. Although it was just one of factors (transgenders are rare in any country, so statistically speaking here is higher chance to meet a cisgender who pretends to be a transgender for some reasons) that made suspect that it was puppet account. Aside from suspicious date of both account creation and the post itself (plus fact that it was the only post of said user) at was also good contrapost to my critique of the game, where major aspects of the game that I critiqued were mentioned and given big thumb up. Of course there is chance that I was wrong, but considering all chances it looks improbable that it was genuine fan account.  

"we're too busy for something like that, even if we wanted to."

It doesn't take too much time to create a puppet account and write positive review of your game. Besides, games with positive reviews are good for your portfolio. You seem to work as non-profit for know, but I guess you hope to gain recognition and then become commercial game-making studio. But again, I would be glad to be wrong.

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Simply put, we don't need to make puppet accounts to gather positive reviews to gain interest in our games or to 'build a portfolio'. We already have hundreds of positive reviews on our Steam games alone, and the reviews on itch.io speak for themselves. We're a studio that prides ourselves on our undying commitment to ethical development - both in community building and in how we treat our members. Puppet accounts serve no purpose to us, and would actively damage our own goals - both to our average member and to the community at large.

If anything, the first thought shouldn't be 'the devs are making false reviews', the first thought should be 'maybe this person is new to the EVN community, or they are a dev's friend that wanted to congratulate them on a successful release', or something like that. I don't know the person who reviewed us, and while I deeply appreciate the words they've given us, I don't believe there's any Machiavellian plans going on in the background here.

Something like that would only serve to hurt us. We've been around for four years with seven game releases, multiple talks on game development and ethics, and are an incorporated company - we don't need to prop ourselves up with false reviews. Our dedication speaks for itself here.


Wolf, Watercress Studio Director

To clear things up for Wolf's sake - I asked a few friends who'd played the game when it first came out to review it now. Just a friend who told me what they thought of a project I worked on, nothing more. 

-Ginger, Beyond Yesterday's Grasp Project Lead

I was the team lead and conceptor for Beyond Yesterday's Grasp, thanks so much for the sweet words! They mean so much to me, I can't tell you how uplifting it is to hear that our hard work paid off! Making people feel recognized and validated was our main goal.  Also, yes, bless our VAs, those talented angels. <3 Ginger 

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"Making people feel recognized and validated was our main goal."

Does it mean that you inserted a transgender character in hope that transgender people (plus cisgender people who feel bad for transgenders) will notice such "feature", jump from joy and call your game the best game ever?

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For the sake of transparency:

User was banned from our comments section for this post and other posts like this. I'm sorry to anyone who was negatively impacted by their comments.


Wolf,  Watercress Studio Director

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SPOILERS !!!

I liked the ideas behind each story, but alas, execution is an example of "Broken Aesop".

1.Let go. The whole situation seems too artificial. It looks like story about hopeless battle against sadistic God rather than story about "Letting go". Besides there is no rational reason given why the boyfriend must die. I mean you could give him some kind of hidden illness that is unknown for him.

2.If in Your Dreams; the Flood. This time situation is more belivable, yet it seems irrelevant to theme "Face and accept your future". Not enough background info about the heroine is given to make conclusion that the flood is visualisation of her worries about the future. Besides, why would she worry about her future? It doesn't seem like there is something wrong with her, or her family, etc.

3.Beyond Yesterday's Grasp. It's both artificial and irrelevant. Besides I have no idea why would you insert a transgender into this story, her mental issues are completely irrelevant for the theme.

(1 edit)

We appreciate the feedback!

For Let Go., we didn't want to explore why the boyfriend must die. The focus is on the two characters and how they interact with each other, rather than the world around them. We feel that any focus on the 'why' of the situation would detract from what we felt was most important: the two characters. It seems artificial because it kind of is - it's a situation there to explore the characters, rather than for the characters to look at or solve. More of a character study than a game about a world. 

For If in Your Dreams; the Flood,  it's similar to Let Go. Background isn't as important because the feeling of impending dread is so common, that we don't have to establish a why behind it. Another case of 'characters and their interactions trump the need for background information'. 

For Beyond Yesterday's Grasp, we didn't insert a trans character - he's just trans, just like the MC of Let Go. is a straight African American male, and the MC of Flood is a young white girl. BYG isn't telling the story specifically of a trans character who experiences what they experience, it's about a character who just so happens to be trans. 

I hope that helps you understand our perspective, and we'll be sure to take your comments into consideration in our future projects! This game was made in a single month, and there are obvious flaws that we'll be addressing in the future (a lot comes from the lack of time). Thanks again!


Wolf, Watercress Studio Director.

(4 edits) (-4)

>We feel that any focus on the 'why' of the situation would detract from what we felt was most important: the two characters.

I don't know how it worked for your other players, but for me personally it made hard to relate with the main characters. And it's condsidering that I DO have tragic episode in my life when the person whom I loved the most was slowly dying from cancer and I could do NOTHING to save her. I didn't need time loop in order to understand it.

>Background isn't as important because the feeling of impending dread is so common, that we don't have to establish a why behind it.

At the least for me characters without background are swallow. Considering what you said it look like lack of background is cowardice on part of the writer(s). "What if I will provide background, but players will consider problems of the main heroine insignificant? Better make it abstract and vague". As player I can understand that the heroine is afraid of something, but it's impossible for me to relate to her when I lack her background. For different and better approach look at https://watercress.itch.io/our-home  (Congratulations on good storytelling here, by the way!) The characters have much more specific background (we don't know anything about them from start, but learn more during the story) and it helps to relate to them more (or at the least have some feelings toward them rather than indifference. Even if said feelings are negative).

> we don't have to establish a why behind it

Let me tell you short story. A boy loved a girl. And the girl loved the boy. But their families deeply hated each other. The girl's family was forcing her to marry a man with whom she wasn't in love, so she faked her death in order to avoid the marriage. But the boy thought that she died for real and commited suicide. After discovering that her loved one killed himself the girl commited suicide too. The end.

Does it feel like the most tragic love story of all time? There are so many blank spaces where the reader can use his/her imagination to fill out details. But I think that for the most readers it's "no". At the most it looks like promising premise that can be expolited with different degrees of success when a writer will add details (what basically Shakespear did). This is also why people can be cold-blooded when they hear news reports about tragic events in life of real humans, but cry about cruel fate of fictitious ones.

>we didn't insert a trans character - she's just trans

This is not just about apperance (like having black skin, although being black can also play big part in psychology of some people): it's part of personality of said character. Does it serves purpose of story to have character(s) with such personality traits? My friend once told me that in stories of great writers, unlike in stories of ordinary writers, every single detail serves some purpose and I agree with him. For example, take look at the ending of "1984": it's not clear if the main character was killed or spared. Why was such seemingly important part of story left behind? Because, from psychological point of view, the main character ALREADY DIED. The party broke his will and made him love the Big Brother. It doesn't matter what happened with him next, he became a brainwashed puppet of totalitarian regime. Another example, the very first sentence from "1984": "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen". The very first statement symbolically hints that it's both fantastical (clocks don't strike thirteen in our world, at the most they can strike twelve. Except maybe digital clocks, but it's not the case here) and unfortunate place (because thirteen is associated with bad luck).

>like the MC of Let Go. is a straight African American male

Also, trans people are quite rare. And not all of them are open about fact that they are transgenders. To give you analogy, if I wrote a story about place where I live (Kazakhstan) it would feel very strange and awkward if I just randomly introduced a black person without a good reason (Example of good reason: I could use the fact that they are black in order to highlight that said person is a foreigner, to emphasize how alien s/he is to this place). Black people in my country are extremely rare, I have seen only three of them in my entire life and all of them were, most likely, foreigners.

>I hope that helps you understand our perspective, and we'll be sure to take your comments into consideration in our future projects!

I understand, everybody makes mistakes. As Jake the dog said "Dude, sucking at something is the first step of being GOOD at something".

(+4)

Being trans isn't a personality trait, it's just a human aspect. There's literally no need to have a reasoning for a character being trans, or a reasoning for a character being black, or anything like that, because people of all kinds exist everywhere. Even if they're only a half a percent of a given place's population, they still exist everywhere, and there doesn't need to be some special reason for them to exist. One of my best friends is trans, for example. There's no underlying reason he is, he just is. One of my other friends is black. I don't live in Africa, I live in North America, but he's not considered weird. He was born here, raised here, and is treated no differently. He's just a person who happens to be black. There's no need for a reason for a person to be a person.

Also, I noticed you accidentally said "she's" there? Caelum is a man, so it would be "he's".

(-5)

"Being trans isn't a personality trait, it's just a human aspect."

I believe it to be a mental illness, this is why I called it a personality trait.

"Even if they're only a half a percent of a given place's population, they still exist everywhere".

There are also people who were struck by a lightning several times. Several times, Carl! But as people become of rare type and events become more improbable the whole story becomes less realistic (even if it DID or COULD happen in the real life. For example, it's totally possible to win lottery seven times in row without being a fraudster or buying all tickets. But it's very improbable). Don't get me wrong, I'm OK with unrealistic story if lack of realism leads to more interesting story (like story about a person who cries with tears of gold, for example), but it's not the case here.  In "Beyond Yesterday's Grasp" I expected to get slice of life with a hero trying to overcome ghosts of the past. Instead I got story with REAL ghosts.

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What does “;” in “If in Your Dreams; the Flood” mean?

I suspect that ";" meant to show that the story has TWO names, ("If in Your Dreams" and "The Flood" respectively), they were just combined in one title.

Am I correct? If not, then what does it mean?

I've contacted the writer who decided upon that title, and I'll see if he can respond to you directly :)


Wolf, Watercress Studio Director

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So, after asking around, we don't remember who put in the semicolon. Here's an explanation of the title by the concept creator though!

"My original title had been "If in your dreams the flood," in homage to "If on a winter's night a traveler," this novel by an Italian guy named Italo Calvino. With the imagery of a flood having been taken as inspiration from "Ophelia," the Lumineers song. It beats me what the semicolon is supposed to represent actually." ~Electro


Wolf, Watercress Studio Director

I played "If in Your Dreams; the Flood" first, and really enjoyed it, but then when I played "Beyond Yesterday's Grasp," the ending that I got didn't seem to match up with the rest of the story. I got the "Surrender" ending, but I had succeeded in bringing down Genevieve's killer, so it didn't make sense. Plus, the transition to the last scene was abrupt, as if it had been programmed wrong. Then, the game stated that I had read all three stories, when I hadn't even opened "Let Go." yet.

I really enjoyed what I saw of this game, but these bugs make it feel like I'm getting an incomplete experience. Is there any possibility of having them fixed?

Hi, Zelan, thank you for the bug report.  These are known issues, however our programming director is indisposed and has no internet. We'll be able to squash these bugs by the end of the month, hopefully.  Sorry about that.

Thank you both for your quick replies and explanations! I look forward to playing the updated game. ^_^

Hi, Zelan. I was the assistant team lead for Beyond Yesterday's Grasp. Thank you so much for playing our VN.

The first thing you mentioned is not actually a glitch. The Surrender ending is not precluded by stopping Genevieve's killer—in fact, quite the opposite; it's impossible to get the Surrender ending without having done so. The transition between the ending and the preceding scene is indeed abrupt, however, and this will be addressed in a future update.

We've discovered from reader feedback that most people on track to get the true ending will instead get Surrender, mostly because they only choose options that acquiesce to Genevieve's demands. Without providing any spoilers in this space, I will say that your choices in the second and last sets of options are both pivotal to getting the true ending.

Thanks for commenting! I hope you'll get to see the other endings as well.

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Spoiler about how to reach the true ending in "Beyond Yesterday's Grasp," 

http://freetexthost.com/fvzx6k3bay

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my heart!!! this is incredible

(+1)

Thank you! We appreciate it :D


Wolf, Watercress Studio Director

(+1)

I knew with NanoRenO 2018 coming around that you would make a great entry. I also knew that I had to play it! The problem was that i'm shifting the focus of my channel differently. So my secondary channel. Late Night Gaming had to do a let's play of this. 

Sorry if that bums you out. I will still support Watercress through that channel. Who knows maybe I will bring VN's back to my main channel in the future. I look forward to what you produce in that time. Good luck in the game jam I hope you beat them all!