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About the Story
You have recently begun taking lessons from a new voice teacher. Under his expert instruction, your opera career is flourishing. If only he would let you see his face.
51st Place - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)
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Number of Reviews: 6
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Oh hey, another literary reimagining by the author who did How the Elephant’s Child Who Walked By Himself Got His Wings – I’m sensing a (very fun) theme! And it’s funny, just a few weeks ago I went down a Wikipedia rabbit-hole checking out all the different literary, cinematic, and theatrical depictions of the Phantom of the Opera and the various ways his psychology and disfigurement were portrayed, quite similar to the rundown the author provides in the opening (now it bothers me that I can’t for the life of me remember what set me off on this jaunt).
Offering options to the player for what kind of Phantom they want to have in their story, whether modern or archaic, and your choice of insane, vengeful, or romantic personalities, is a nice touch to acknowledge the diversity of different moods the story can have, though I think this is primarily a bit of sleight of hand to prime the player’s expectations rather than a significant branch point (I went for sexytrad my first go-round, then did a quick psychomod replay, and only saw substantial divergence in a few elements of the last scene of Act III). In fact while there are a lot of choices, almost all of them felt to me like the kind of choices that allow the player to reflect on how they understand the main character (you play Christine) and their circumstances, rather than slotting in different options for the narrative. As it happens, this is one of my favorite things choice games allow you to do, so that worked for me, but I can see other players perhaps being a bit frustrated by the perception of linearity.
So the main draw really is the writing and the story, and you’re in good hands here. The author does a great job of moving the story around in time and place, and concisely sketching in characters and situations, so elegantly you’re never quite aware of how the trick’s being done. I am not an opera buff at all, but the prose effectively conveys both the behind-the-scenes mechanics of how it is produced and performed, as well as the aesthetic impact it has when done well. There are also some good jokes: in discussing the legend of the phantom, one character says “Some people say he was a famous tenor who died onstage. But other people say that’s just romantic nonsense, and he was really a baritone.” (I think that’s an opera-diss).
The two main characters very much come through. The author conveys a mix of tyranny, wistfulness, and threat in the Phantom, which is as it should be. And this Christine is definitely not the ingenue of the musical – one of my favorite bits is that when the Phantom first brings her back to his subterranean lair, she fans out her keys into impromptu brass knuckles just in case! I found that to be a bit of a double-edged sword, though – I have an extended series of thoughts on that with which I’ll wrap up, so those who haven’t played yet, feel free to hop off at this point secure in knowing that Phantom is worth the time!
All right, those of y’all left, please join me behind the curtain as we explore what I mean about Christine: (Spoiler - click to show)The major surprise of Phantom has nothing to do with the titular cape-afficionado: it’s that Christine is one hardcore motherfucker. After her rival tries to put itching powder in her wig, Christine escalates – in one step! – to straight-up murder. In fact when reflecting on said rival, she shares this observation: “Unfortunately, you have never been very good at making friends with other women. In your own mind, you mostly categorize them into two groups: those who are potentially useful to you, and those who are potential rivals.” And this is after choosing the option to try to be friendly! Or again, here’s her thought process when being introduced to Raoul: “This is a man who could make your career, if only you can win his support. But how? If you were to sleep with him, would that help to secure him? Or is it just what everyone does?” Lady, if that’s what everyone does, he is going to give you chlamydia.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with making Christine an antihero rather than a naif, but I’m not sure it really works. For one thing, this characterization flirts with some misogynistic tropes, which I don’t think is intended at all, but since the game is so short we don’t really get a sense of her as a more rounded character or if there’s anything behind her sociopathy, putting her at risk of being a comic-opera villain. But more saliently, it feels odd to cram this Christine into the exact same plot structure of the traditional Phantom – with the murder only described obliquely and retrospectively, she’s still more acted-upon than acting, and often feels passive (the fact that the choices don’t generally change the narrative but are only internal is maybe a factor here). I think there were some missed opportunities to break the mold and do something unexpected to give our new Christine the opportunity to come into her own.
It's from Phantom of the Opera, of course. Keenly aware of its source material, the game opens almost by establishing the player's own understanding. I, for one, enjoyed the possibility of a modern remake - how do you maintain the mystique of Gaston Leroux's Phantom when everything, it seems, can be found on the internet?
Structured in three short acts, with broad-strokes choices, Phantom casts Christine Daae in quite a different light. I found it interesting that the choices given the most granularity were the emotional ones, not the moral ones.
Overall an attractive adaptation of a story one not usually remixed (as much as, say, Sherlock Holmes or Lovecraft).
This game gave me all sorts of different reactions.
First of all, it has nice visuals and sounds chosen from a variety of operas and symphonies.
The text is slow during musical portions, but the game overall is relatively short.
This game is a retelling of the Phantom of the Opera, where you can customize it in 6 different ways depending on the time period and the way you perceive the story of the Phantom.
However, on replay, choosing entirely different options, I found myself with almost the exact same story. I checked the code of the game, and all the stats affect at most one or two paragraphs each.
The writing is interesting and makes for a good retelling, with narrative twists. I felt that the characterization of Christine as seductress was surprising to me and didn't really gel with my version of the character, and then later events further differed, but I suppose that's the variety in retelling a story.
So I honestly don't know. This is in no way what I would consider a bad game, but it has a lot of unusual choices that I need to sit and unpack for a while.
+Polish: Everything worked well from the get-go.
+Descriptiveness: The characters and locations were vivid to me.
+Interactivity: Despite the small effects of choices, I felt like it was interactive, especially the first time.
+Emotional impact: I'm a Phantom of the Opera fan, so it was fun to play it in Twine form.
+Would I play it again? I don't plan on revisiting this.
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