INTERIM is a fictional tale set within the confines of a factual reality – specifically 1970s Cambodia, during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. It focuses around the convoluted events of two siblings – Arun (the boy) and Samnang (the girl). As is established from the onset, through a military raid on the family household the girl winds up incarcerated in a fictionalized version of the infamous S-21 prison whilst the boy is shot dead. However, during her imprisonment, in an attempt to repress the memory pertaining to her brother’s death, the girl fantasizes about how she might be freed. Yet she inadvertently casts her younger brother in the role of her saviour and her imaginings constituent the entirety of the gameplay. The player is not made aware of this until the final stage of the game. As the game progresses, the expositional cinematics would have gradually been revealed, piece by piece. The game concludes with the girl’s liberation at the hand of a Vietnamese soldier and her eventual acceptance of her brother’s death. The narrative and all involved assets are confirmed as being original intellectual property, thus avoiding copyright infringement. Whilst equilibrium is presented in the beginning, it is not reinstated from the conclusion.
The two siblings are seen playing together on the yellowing grass of an apartment complex’s back garden. Following a commotion inside the building, a group of soldiers emerge from the backdoor and seize the two. The soldiers manhandle the siblings through to the front door, dogged by the screams of their mother. Upon vacating the threshold, with a desperate cry the father attempts to wrest Arun from one of the soldiers. Another soldier attempts to shoot the father but catches the Arun in the forehead with the bullet. With his hands now free, the soldier who previously held the boy whips his rifle about and cracks the father over the head, knocking him unconscious on the pavement. Bundling the distraught girl into a military personnel carrier, the soldiers climb aboard and the vehicle sets off in the direction of the prison.
The protagonist is posed in a crawling position within a small ventilation shaft, peering through the slits of a grate in the wall. Through the first person perspective utilized in gameplay, the back of a prison warden is seen sat nonchalantly in a straight-backed chair at a desk. After a moment of silence and a flurry of activity behind an adjacent door, another warden or soldier appears in the threshold. With clipped speech and a nervous tone, he informs the man at the desk of an unaccountable disturbance in a lower section of the facility. The irritated response proposes the second man lead him to the area in question. After the two men leave, the camera pans inwards to focus on a collection of keys left unattended upon the desk.
The cinematic finale opens with a black screen. Only sound is presented to the player; a girl sobbing softly. Slowly, through the first person perspective of the girl, the brick-lined cell is brought into focus as she opens her eyes – illustrated by a bevelled letterbox effect. A ghostly apparition of her brother stands before her, the door behind his shoulder remains shut. Samnang begins to cry anew but her brother smiles. Then suddenly, a key slams in its mechanism and the door behind him swings inward. Arun vanishes as a man appears in the threshold, speaking with someone behind him. The man is dressed differently to the other soldiers and his expression shows concern. A hand is extended towards the girl who recoils away, frightened. In her mind, she – and the player – hears Arun’s laughter from the opening cut-scene. After a pause of reflection, Samnang straightens, and grasps the offered hand.
Original Publication: 2014