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About the Story
One morning, when P. woke from peaceful dreams, he found himself in his bed – still his old self.
Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: April 10, 2014
Current Version: 3
License: Creative Commons
Development System: Inform 6
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
7th Place - Spring Thing 2014
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Number of Reviews: 2
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As an Inform 7 author, I was curious to explore this surreal world of Mr. P. The map for the game was straightforward enough and I quickly sketched it out. I was disappointed I could not ask my wife any questions. The default interactions showed me the game was well-tested. I spotted no bugs. The path through the game felt very controlled and it kept me on track. The game interactions were brief and I never felt I was being tricked. I was able to (Spoiler - click to show)move the wardrobe aside to access the empty room but was never sure why that was valuable. (Spoiler - click to show)So the couple is childless. So what? So Margaret keeps a spotless house? So what?
The trip to the office was uneventful and therefore disappointing. I was hoping to understand the office characters at a deeper level, but that wasn't important apparently. I was surprised by the (Spoiler - click to show)rotten meat in my lunch bag but this wasn't satisfactorily explained. I assume we are to accept odd happenings like that because the game is "surreal." But know this: when basic questions are left unanswered, the player is left unsatisfied. That's why only 3 stars for this review.
Exploring the park was odd and at times surprising. I especially liked (Spoiler - click to show)poking the clouds with the stick to transform them into candy That was imaginative, but didn't really further the story.
Unfortunately, I spent a lot of my time waiting for things to happen and wandering from place to place. There were clearly timer counts in the game that waited a certain number of turns before something significant would happen. I wish these waits were shorter or the engagement with the characters would have furthered the story.
The climax of the story was the (Spoiler - click to show)wife swap which really got my attention. Unfortunately, with little explanation, the story abruptly ended with the cryptic message " *** Colorful (6/8) ***"
I wonder what that means. I assume it was a score.
You play through a day in the life of a man who experiences a series of strange events. Since I'm not above namedropping, I have to say it reminded a little of Dostoevsky's The Double. Awkward interactions with co-workers; a major faux-pas at a party; things like that. So there is quite a lot of good stuff built around themes of anxiety and embarassment and human relationships.
The first half of the game mainly consists of routine activity. The main character's personality, rather than being described, truly emerges from the actions that the player must perform. The game makes the player fret over little things like getting dressed in private, washing one's hands before lunch, and kissing one's wife before leaving for work. But the player's choices are open enough that the player does not feel locked in or led by the hand; for example, you can lose the game by (Spoiler - click to show)missing the bus.
The anxieties flow nicely into the second half of the game; when you discover (Spoiler - click to show)your rotten lunch, the story becomes much more surreal, and the gameplay involves more puzzles.
I spent more or less equal amounts of time on each half of the game. The mundane first half never becomes tedious, and the second surreal half never becomes overly frustrating--I only got stuck once in the second part. (Thanks to the author for helping me solve it.)
The end puzzle is truly excellent, and it's pure joy to try (Spoiler - click to show)different combinations of clothes and exit strategiesto arrive at different endings.
One puzzle that is troublesome involves enduring a conversation with guests. It involves trying a (Spoiler - click to show)certain number of actions rather than finding a particular correct action. This is a clever idea for a puzzle, because the only way not to win is to (Spoiler - click to show)give up. Unfortunately, some of the game's responses to my actions did not make sense. (eg. The game recognized biting as a completely different action.) The game's responses should have been much less specific given the high number of actions that players are bound to try.
If not for little technical errors like that, I would rate this game as a 4. As it is, it's probably worth 3.5 stars, but the star system doesn't allow for that.
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