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About the Story
Steam-powered mechs meet forbidden sorcery! Inspired by Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde, and Jack the Ripper, "A Study in Steampunk: Choice by Gaslight" is an epic 277,000-word interactive mystery novel by Heather Albano, co-author of "Choice of Broadsides," "Choice of Zombies," and "Choice of Romance: Affairs of the Court." Your choices control the story. It's entirely text-based--without graphics or sound effects--and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.
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I played a Study in Steampunk after I had spent several months rereading the original Sherlock Holmes stories. I had discovered that Sherlock was very different from modern versions: no "elementary, dear Watson", a lot of strength and physical activity, minimal pipe use, etc.
So when I started this game as John Watson and my friend said 'the game's afoot', I rolled my eyes. I couldn't get into the storyline about dueling empires with mechs and soul-draining powers.
But I tried again two more times, and on the third time, it stuck. I think the first chapter just wasn't as strong as the later ones; the game began offering really intriguing role-playing choices, and ended up setting up several compelling life-and-death situations that were effective.
The decisions were effective, I believe, because the game is just so long. It has a lot of minor faults I would usually take off points for (like obvious choices between being good/being evil or by-the-numbers genre scenes), but the author clearly has a deep understanding of long-form game design that just makes it fun.
I enjoyed it more once I realized that it wasn't really a Sherlock Holmes knock-off; it was really the author's own vision, with some Sherlock-related elements. The author cites Dracula and Jack the Ripper as inspirations, too, and these are almost stronger; supernatural life-draining is one of the main game topics. It also suggests Jekyll and Hyde as an influence, but I saw nothing of this in my playthrough.
This game is effective because of how long it is, and is definitely worth its price.
Highly impressive. A Study In Steampunk's title may be slightly misleading (steampunk stories usually take place in our world's past, rather than a fantasy analogue of it), but that is the only mis-step in an epic-length rollicking ride filled with devious spy-craft, grisly crime, intriguing magic, and high adventure round every corner.
It's clearly influenced by Sherlock Holmes, Jules Verne, Fu Manchu, but the story is very original and filled with unexpected curve-balls, characters are very well developed, and of course the world-building works beautifully.
Options are frequent and plentiful, and cleverly they are written as "thought bubbles" for the player character (a doctor and war-veteran in service of the crown). Often, the choice you are making is not the action you will perform, but rather *why* you are performing it.
A Study In Steampunk not only sits alongside the best Choice Of Games releases (Choice of Robots, Slammed!, Hollywood Visionary etc) but surpasses them, through the power of literary quality and technical innovations (it has a save game feature, for example).
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This is version 1 of this page, edited by Dan Fabulich on 18 December 2015 at 12:53pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item