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Elsinore: After Hamlet

by Lapin Lunaire Games profile


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(based on 2 ratings)
1 review

About the Story


The year is 2021—or maybe 1602? Hamlet the Younger has just tragically died and Fortinbras the Younger, King of Norway and newly-conquered Denmark, has a lot of cleaning up to do. Elsinore: After Hamlet is an interactive fiction exploration of William Shakespeare's Hamlet as a plague text and a reckoning of Asian American identity during these trying times. Also contains bad puns and glowing text.

Rated T for mild language and depictions of blood & violence.


Play as an Asian American university student juggling society, schoolwork, and mental health under the pressure of a global pandemic and mounting anti-Asian violence.

- Create a customizable character, selecting:
- Gender and pronouns (male, female, and nonbinary options)
- Name
- Explore the world of Elsinore and make branching choices that directly influence gameplay and how the story unfolds
- Navigate one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays from an unique perspective and experience the spring of 2021 through someone else’s eyes
- Befriend or antagonize your favorite characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and earn new allies or make new enemies
- Discover hidden story content and collect lore about the strange, suspended state of Elsinore
- Unlock 7 unique endings, some good, some bad, and some...secret
- Enjoy over 15,000 words of gameplay that offer replayable experiences and story

Game Details


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Is Life adapting Art? or Art adapting Life?, August 8, 2023
by manonamora
Related reviews: independent release

I should probably preface this review by saying I've never read Hamlet (or Shakespeare's work) outside of lone lines or loose adaptations (I think the Lion King/Dune applies?). And while I know there are murders, betrayals, unrequited feelings, madness and monologues galore, the game does not punish you for not knowing the intricacies of the text. Because the story is set after Hamlet's death... and it is not really about Hamlet either.

E:aH uses Hamlet as a framing device to explore the themes of grief, the fear of and hopelessness about death, and identity (esp. Asian American), when living through a global pandemic. During this period, many of us have experienced grief and hardship, from not being able to meet people, to losing family members, seeing one's health worsen, or being subject to violence from others... And within its 15k+ words, this game creates a snapshot filled with anxiety and uncertainty. Yet, amidst the depressing setting, the prose is parsed with humour, little gems bringing levity to the story.

The story happens in two folds: you working on your assignment, trying to suppress worries about your loved ones and the state of the world, and your hallucinations(?) set in Elsinore, imagining events following the end of the play. Both somewhat mirroring or criticising the other. You struggle to find something meaningful to say about the the text, while Horatio scolds you for downplaying their agency as people. A "plague" starts in Elsinore, which you notice from a servant coughing. you share comforting words to Horatio and compassion for his situation, recalling times of struggles during the "war" against COVID and the violence some were forced to endure because of their ethnicity.

The game feels like a critique of the text, through the added character of Petra challenging the crown while passive Ophelia goes mad, or a critique of some reading of the text, like with the comments about the relationships between Horatio and Hamlet. The critiques are sometimes a bit more blunt, with the player character roasting Hamlet for derailing his father's quest (meeting his demise) or his poor treatment towards other characters (esp. Ophelia).

While the UI strayed very little from the basic Harlowe base, it does utilise the enchantment macros in an interesting manner, often enhancing the player character's feelings, a few even added to the hallucination assumptions (especially when ignoring the first sign). Some of the strangely formatted text will hide the way to advance through the story. I wasn't particularly fan some typed text (a bit too slow) or timed ones (wait a bit too long), and one hidden link was biiit too obtuse to find - but it didn't detract my overall enjoyment of the story.

But as every story, this too must end. So let's finish with the endings. The game has 7 possible endings. Some easier to get than others; some longer than others; some good, some bad, some neither. I reached the shorter ones more easily than the longer ones. Depending on your choices, the story will confirm these hallucinations were just a dream or will let you believe you are still trapped in Elsinore; you may reach a bittersweet end where your heart lightened, or one sharing the same fate as Ophelia. Out of those, I think I preferred the ones where the isekai theme was the more obvious, regardless of how forceful the return to reality is, as it mirrored best the start of the game and felt more like a closing the circle moment.

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Elsinore: After Hamlet on IFDB


The following polls include votes for Elsinore: After Hamlet:

Games exploring trauma and other messy subject matter by Kastel
Looking for, as Nathalie Lawhead puts it, art caught between “everything is horrible”, “everything is survivable”, and “this is too hard to talk about”. I'm interested in how people explore the messy things in life through IF engines.

Games that are adaptations of conventional (not CYOA) books by ChrisM
I'm interested in games that are straightforward adaptations of conventional books (probably novels, but I'd be interested to know if there are any non-fiction book adaptations). The ones that I know of are The Famous Five and The...

This is version 2 of this page, edited by Lapin Lunaire Games on 8 February 2023 at 5:37am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page