Devlog #4: chiaroscuro is coming SOON

January 13 is just one week away. That means there are only seven days between now and chiaroscuro going live.

[internal screaming intensifies]

a brief history of chiaroscuro

I get my ideas from all sorts of strange places. In this particular case, I think the first seeds of chiaroscuro came from my interest in the word itself. I love the sound of it—like crystal shattering into a thousand prismatic fragments across a polished tile floor. I also love its meaning, the idea that shadow and light—inherently formless, ethereal things—can be used to create shape and volume, or at least the illusion of it.

The first known use of the word occurred in 1686—a long time ago by some measures, but not all that long ago when you consider that written language has been around since 3100 BCE. I didn't hear the word myself until sometime around the late 2000s, in a high school art class. It was love at first listen; I knew the moment I heard it I wanted to write something around it.

I didn't actually get around to doing so, however, until sometime in June of 2020. chiaroscuro was originally conceived as a visual novel of sorts, with a very elaborate plan for how the tone and look of the art would change as the story developed. Instead, it evolved into something a little different than what I first imagined—a short, simple interactive story that, instead of relying on visuals to convey meaning, leaves the art of the game up to the reader's imagination. And given the psychological elements of the game, I think that's rather fitting.

what to expect from the game

chiaroscuro is meant to be a short, simple game to play—the focus is very much on experiencing the narrative, rather than trying to "beat" something or achieve one specific goal. A single playthrough can be comfortably completed in just an hour or two, with subsequent experiences typically taking even less time. There are a total of five endings; it's up to you how many you want to explore.

There are no stats to manage in chiaroscuro, though the game does track a few things behind the scenes. There are no skills to upgrade and no monsters to defeat (at least, not in physical combat). All you need to do is read—carefully—and click on things to make choices. There are no inherently "wrong" options, though some may have outcomes you may like better than others.

And of course, should you dislike the ending you achieve, you can always try again.

how to play chiaroscuro

The game will be 100% free and directly playable in your internet browser. Just download the HTML file and open in your browser of choice!

It should work regardless of whether you're on a mobile or desktop device—anything that can run a typical Twine game should be able to run chiaroscuro just fine. (Click here if you'd like to know more about the specific story format I used for this game, Twine Chapbook.)

Since it is so short, I have not included a manual save feature. However, chiaroscuro does use the typical Twine setup of using local storage to ensure continuity between sessions, so as long as you continue to play in the same browser and on the same device (and don't clear your browser history halfway through!), you should be able to return to the same passage you last opened if you need to stop before finishing a playthrough.

As I mentioned above, there is no one "right" or "wrong" way to experience chiaroscuro. Just remember that even the smallest choices impact the story, especially how it will end...

chiaroscuro will be available to play for free on January 13, 2022—keep an eye on the main itch page for when it goes live!

Get chiaroscuro

Download NowName your own price


Log in with to leave a comment.



Thank you again for all your help. Your feedback was an excellent read. 😊

Very excited!


Glad to hear it! So am I 😁