Review title: A humorous Twine take on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice
This game is a fanciful retelling of the Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice where you play as Orpheus in his quest to revive Eurydice. The game takes about 25-30 minutes to play, and its gameplay features some replay value.
Here is some background context for this game. Some may not consider these as spoilers, but I will still tag key plot points. In Greek mythology a man named Orpheus loses Eurydice, his wife, when she is bitten by a snake. Orpheus decides to go to the Underworld to bring her back. He is extremely skilled at the lyre and (Spoiler - click to show) plays such a bittersweet song about Eurydice's death that even Hades and Persephone, gods of the Underworld, agree to give him a second chance. They allow Orpheus to lead Eurydice out of the Underworld with the condition that he does not look back until they both reach the realm of the living. Along the way, however, he grows suspicious because he cannot hear the footsteps of anyone behind him. He turns, only to see his wife, and loses her a second time. But upon his death Orpheus is reunited with Eurydice once again.
As is the case with most Greek mythology there are variations in a story, but the story of Eurydice and Orpheus always seems to share the same theme: that (Spoiler - click to show) love can endure in life and death even if two individuals reside in separate realms. Orpheus: A Tragicomedy in Six Parts sticks (mostly) to this storyline but adds a comedic twist.
As explained in the title the game is broken into six acts, all of which are evenly paced. The gameplay begins after Eurydice has died. After moping around Orpheus decides to go to the Underworld.
Whenever I read about Greek mythology there seems to be a process for reaching the Underworld. Usually, you are required to take a boat across a sea before reaching the gates of the Underworld. In this game (Spoiler - click to show) the player can throw caution and planning to the wind. They travel to the Underworld on their terms, completely contradicting the original story in a humorous and creative way. The player can even try to kill off Orpheus, but the game always has some humorous way to keep this from happening. No matter what, he never wavers from his goal.
While the gameplay in the Underworld is (Spoiler - click to show) influenced by your previous choices the game still presents you with three characters, one of which you can ask for help. You can choose either Heracles, Achilles, or Sisyphus. Each character brings unique dialog which adds replay value.
The game may not be accurate from a historical standpoint but that is the main defining feature in Orpheus: A Tragicomedy in Six Parts. It is a humorous and outlandish take on a traditional story while also sticking with familiar characters and key plot points.
The writing is hilarious. My favorite part is when (Spoiler - click to show) Orpheus tries to talk to Persephone and Hades only for them to act as if the encounter is nothing more than someone trying to make an appointment at the hair salon.
Hades grabs a dayplanner off his sidetable and starts pawing through it. "Yes... this afternoon. Though it looks like we're double-booked. Unless..." Hades starts scribbling something down in his dayplanner, apparently forgetting that you're there.
Who would have thought that Hades, God of the Underworld, would use a planner to manage his kingdom? There are multiple dialog options that let you choose the tone of the conversation, but the (Spoiler - click to show) outcome remains the same. Hades and Persephone will initially turn Orpheus away until he whips out his lyre and proceeds to wow them with his music. This is also the case in the original story.
The game captures Orpheus' uncertainty as the player (Spoiler - click to show) clicks on the "Don't look back" command. But no longer how long the player clicks on the button they do not reach the exit of the Underworld. They only have one other option: "Look back.” Orpheus loses Eurydice and the player is presented with two choices that determine the ending.
The player can choose to (Spoiler - click to show) kill themselves or keep living without Eurydice. Choosing to continue living leads to the happy ending because when Orpheus does die, he is reunited with Eurydice in a joyful manner. If the player chooses for Orpheus to kill himself, he is reunited with Eurydice but in less-than-ideal conditions where loneliness pervades.
I love the stylizing of this game. It uses a black background with mustard yellow text and accents. Sometimes characters will also use their own font. The top and bottom of the screen have a basic maze-like appearance and the game occasionally includes graphics of the characters. Some are portrayed in mustard yellow against the black screen while others are more ornate. These visuals were one of the best parts of the game and created a polished look.
Links that are tan and underlined result in popup boxes containing a few verses that the protagonist players. I am pretty sure that they are NOT actual verses from real-life texts but instead a simplified version with a joking undertone. I felt that these boxes added a little more interactivity and a splash of humor. The game also has links that lead to YouTube videos some music mentioned in the game. My only complaint was that these links are dark blue and difficult to read against the black screen.
This is a great game if you are hungry for something with Greek mythology, especially one that strives to be a funny retelling rather than going for historical accuracy. It is fairly short game and has simple yet detailed visuals.
Another game I recommend from IFDB is called Eurydice by an anonymous author. It is a parser game uses a modern and much more somber take on the classic story. It is one of my favorite games and is a nice way of demonstrating how different authors can make a unique game based on the same concept.