The Temple of No is a visual novel created through the use of Twine. Written by William Pugh, one of the makers of The Stanley Parable, the piece share's the game's loose and choice driven narrative style. Temple frequently interacts directly with the audience to pull the reader further into the story being told. However, unlike The Stanley Parable, The Temple of No uses a visual and textual interface as opposed to the video game platform of Pugh's previous work.
Published in 2016 by Crows Crows Crows and hosted on itch.io, Temple follows an adventurer as they seek out and explore a fabled temple. The story captures the protagonist’s journey from choosing your player character to finding the golden throne room deep inside. The story is told through a lighthearted narrator who breaks the fourth wall and interacts with the reader almost every page. Additionally, Johann’s design and illustration leaves the impression of a beloved children’s novel. Minimalist illustration combined with whimsical narrative style serves to enthrall the reader. The piece seems to be almost verbally telling its story as you click from link to link.
As is classic with Twine to proceed through the work you must click on underlined text, and this is the only way to move through the story. This either generates a new page with more text, or enhances the existing content on the page. For example, in one section you are climbing stairs of a tall tower. The monotony of this experience is captured by clicking one or two word sections several times slowing the reader’s perceptions of events and stretching time.
The Temple of No also utilizes a combination of sound and visuals to influence the reader's perception. In lighthearted moments, for example when you are dancing and singing to yourself as you walk through a jungle, a light piano is used as background. Conversely, when you are exploring the temple itself a more mysterious soundtrack is used as ambiance. This music is further complemented by individual sound effects to punctuate key moments.
The piece itself of the work is fiction although it reads like a choose your own adventure novel. Despite the fact there aren't many actual choices you make while reading due to the twine mechanic and frequent second person narration the reader still feels as though they are the ones controlling the story.
This work provides an example of a textual approach to digital literature. Temple of No reads like a paper novel,however the digital medium means the reader is left feeling more immersed into the plot of the story then they might have been otherwise. You are encouraged to let go of preconceptions and let the story lead. At one point the text even reprimands the reader for taking themselves too seriously and to just roll with the punches. Who cares if you’re in public? Sing along why don’t you. his kind of experience is rare in literature. Many modern novels comment on social problems and themes. Rarely are they about the experience itself. This makes Temple of No an unusual and important piece.