I played today with a friend of mine (a non-gamer).
At first, he seemed unsure what to do, but as we read through the first we introductory bits, he just started narrating things. He would pause and think (or read) carefully in sections, but then come out with some really interesting narration and all kinds of details.
We were both very surprised by how intense and creepy the experience of playing was.
Some observations (I'll be back with more tomorrow):
* It's odd how the "player" does so little talking compared to the MC. I felt bad that I'd asked him to play this game with me... but it seemed like he was the one doing all the work, in a sense. I don't know yet if this bothered him or not, but it really jumped out at me.
* The "core loop" where I, as the player, had to choose Madness, Sorrow, Revenge, etc... it often felt like I didn't have enough information to go on, or was still in roughly the same situation I had been earlier.
Once a couple of the obvious choices were exhausted, it felt very awkward for me as the player: I had nothing to go on to choose other options. We'll see if this gets better/easier as we go along.
When I was instructed to "ask the MC questions", I often narrated character actions (for my character), and then followed up with "what happens?" or "how does the ghost react?". In one room, my "ask the MC a question" turned into "Can I pry open the crate?" "Ok, so what's inside?"
I'm not sure if that's in the spirit of the game, but it helped push things along until I felt like I had enough information to make a choice.
Still, it was frustrating to keep coming back to that page, because the options were disappearing very quickly, and it began to seem like none of the remaining ones fit (particularly because the situation evolved very little during that time).
* We played for almost an hour, and still weren't very far along (I'd seen two ghosts, both of which ran away or disappeared, moved through four different "spaces", and the MC had two face-down cards), so we had to quit. We've agreed to pick up where we left off tomorrow.
Since we both had to run, we didn't get to talk about it too much, except that it was a very cool and very creepy experience. As the player, I felt appropriately frightened and "in the dark" about what was about to happen.
The MC's main comment was that he found it challenging but fun. (I think the game was especially slow--it didn't FEEL slow, we were engaged, but slow-paced--because he really got into detailing his descriptions and would often pause to read his text or carefully come up with the next bit of description.) He was concerned, though, when we left off: "I get the sense that I'm supposed to build some coherent, detailed thing. But it feels like I'm just making up stuff at random." I told him it didn't feel that way to me, and explained why. We'll see how it goes tomorrow!
(Also: our game is pretty slow-paced--more like an investigation game--and neither of the ghosts have done anything terribly menacing or threatening so far.)