March 1, 2014 5:15 PM | Lena LeRay
Gaming In Color is a crowdfunded documentary about the queer gaming community, and Anna Anthropy was commissioned to make a special game to be used as a reward for their Kickstarter backers. They got the game a month ago, but now that the period of exclusivity has ended, anyone can enjoy it. Where in the Galaxy is Kremlin San Antonio? is a Twine detective game with an encyclopedia of fictitious planets, and you are the only one who can stop the interstellar criminal in her tracks. Once you've confirmed how many tentacles you have, of course.
Any game with branching narrative has the potential for replay value, but Where in the Galaxy is Kremlin San Antonio? is explicitly designed to be played multiple times. Each playthrough is a crime to solve in the vein of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?: Kremlin San Antonio has stolen something, and you have to start at the scene of the crime and follow clues to track her down. There are two people at the crime scene who will give you clues pointing to another planet, and that starts you planet-hopping to find Kremlin San Antonio.
But how do you know where to go? Check the encyclopedia, of course! Although it's a Twine game, Where in the Galaxy is Kremlin San Antonio? has a custom interface with an encyclopedia of all the worlds you can travel to embedded in the right-hand side. Each world is unique and entertaining, if not necessarily scientifically plausible. I don't want to spoil the joy of discovery by going into too much details about the worlds, but one of them is an enormous cat floating through space with a civilization built on its belly and another one has volcanoes that erupt caramel instead of magma. It's worth reading through the entire encyclopedia before getting started, not just for its own entertainment value but because it will make the game easier if you already know something about all of the worlds.
Where in the Galaxy is Kremlin San Antonio? does a great job of supporting diversity by largely removing differences between groups of people from the equation altogether. At the beginning of the game, you are asked to profile yourself, but things like gender and race never come into it. Decisions about things like the number of tentacles you have (few, some, or many) and whether or not you've ever been in a relationship with Kremlin San Antonio don't have any effect on most of the game. Only at the very end do your beginning decisions make any difference, and even then they just affect the branching dialogue options that are available to you. Throughout the game, descriptions of characters generally just involve descriptions of their clothing or what they are doing coupled with some gender pronoun. There's a planet whose entire population serves in consensual slavery to their queen and a couple of other references to sexual things, but those fit in with all the other humorous details that make up the body of general information about the scenes in the story and the greater setting. Overall, the game does a fantastic job of being open to whatever your imagination wants to put there.
Whether or not diversity is your thing, though, if you like the idea of a detective text adventure along the lines of the Carmen Sandiego games, you will likely enjoy Where in the Galaxy is Kremlin San Antonio?. The visual break from the usual Twine user interface is a nice change of pace, and at a price of $3 with replay value and good writing, it's worth checking out.