Consensus Trance, Part 1 is a multimedia story incorporating audio, video, text, and ludic elements. The mystery begins with the narrator's efforts to contact an old school friend—Alex Nightingale—and descends through interactive text, images, and video into the narrator's psyche, as he attempts to determine if his memories of Nightingale are real, imagined, or manufactured.
From the opening screen, the music and text set the tone. The soundtrack is a discordant thrum throughout the story, alternately contrasting with the images and video on screen and deepening the suspense and fear the narrator experiences. The text is short, sharp and intense, using a stark font in highly readable contrasted type for each lexia. Initially, this clarity in the text lends credibility to the narrator's statements. As his own emotional state begins to fragment, however, the lexias appear in different areas of the screen, often in nonlinear sequence, the reader seeking them out even as the narrator struggles to comprehend what's happening to him.
The imagery of the story moves in sectional layers as the narrator's mind is laid bare, from the first inkling that all is not as it appears, to the dark, rain-drummed landscape of The Sentinel game, as the narrator seeks to find his center. Some sections are fractured into nonlinear lexia, mirroring the narrator's disparate thought patterns, while others drive forward relentlessly in linear text.
As an opening chapter in a longer work, Consensus Trance, Part 1 mines its multimedia framework to introduce a story that exists on multiple levels, in visual and interactive spaces, and lets the reader tumble into the depths of a benevolently unreliable narrator's fractured memory.
Related entry: Nightingale's Playground