Interface has some wonderful pieces, but you'll have to endure a few mediocre ones before you reach them.
Each comes with a few pieces of Crunch connected in one way or another to the story.
Interface's main flaw is that without intimate knowledge of the Demon the Descent game, most of the stories are incomprehensible. Identities swap, overlap and over-wright one another in a way that can be confusing even if you know how Demons can take and drop cover, but may be completely surrealistic to people who are not in the know.
A short synopsis of the stories and my opinion on each:
The Principal - A demon in cover as a suburban wife faces an angelic threat.
I didn't really like this one. It has some good scenes of paranoia superimposed on pastoral suburbia. And an interesting example of cover erosion. But the twist is one of those you can never see coming, and it's not really worth the obfuscation.
Long Road to Caanan - Integration and temptation set against the gay-beats scene of 60's Greenwich Village.
An interesting examination of the intersection between social integration and integration with the God-Machine. How a cover can change the way a demon sees his relationship with the world. But sadly without the Crunch section explaining the underlying themes, the story is pretty opaque.
Time to Go - A saboteur operating against the God-Machine under a military cover in 2006's Kuwait.
Despite the setting, this one is pretty straight-forward. Demon on a mission vs agents of the God-machine. There's really very little to the story beyond that. It works.
Fifth - A flight, a heist and a monumental secret.
I didn't like this one. It has some excellent scenes of cover interaction with humans and Demons interacting under cover. But the whole plot hinges on a revelation that is explained satisfactorily only in the Crunch. And while it is an interesting idea to bring to a chronicle, the story itself doesn't anything interesting with it.
Unicorn Crossing - A computer game programmer caught in the machinations of the God-Machine.
The imagery in this story is creepy in a good way. But the plot didn't really grab me. It seems ludicrous to imagine that what goes on in the story stays under the radar. Plus, the whole "computer game that sucks your soul" shtick is such a horrible cliche. Thankfully, that aspect of the story is more part of the Crunch then the story itself.
Thnetosis - Human friendship, Demons under cover and unusual sacrifices.
I really liked this one. Its simple and it works. There's some unusual example of humans reacting to Demonic revelation and a new twist of patchwork covers.
Dear Marjorie - A 18th(?) century watchmaker caught in the machination of the God-Machine and the Demons fighting against it. in the 21st century.
This, for me is the best story in the collection. Told in unsent letters and pieces of third person accounts. It manages to capture the mix of awe, fascination, terror and helplessness that a normal human experiences when caught between angels and demons. The facility chain it depicts is exactly the kind of weird locomotion of assets the God-Machine might build. And beyond all the well built plot, it managed to stir me emotionally. The use of Seattle's splintered time-lines still hasn't out staid it's welcome.
Retirement - A former saboteur forced to break a promise to locate a former colleague.
Another good story. It manages to convey quite well the connections a Demon might form with his cover, overtime. And the constant game of trust and mistrust between Demons and their enemies. It's not very complicated and works very well.
Overall, I liked Interface. The crunch sections are a good way to bridge the gap between the fiction and the game it tries to emulate. And the fiction itself does a good job of depicting some of the ways Demon characters might live and act. But I clearly enjoyed the last three stories more then the others.
[3 of 5 Stars!]