The Impossible Bottle

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Number of Reviews: 11
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A most unique puzzle design and a heart-warming ending, December 1, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: 1-2 hours

This game is a parser-based puzzlefest and it has one of the most clever and unique mechanics I've seen in a game. You play as a six-year-old girl, trying to help her father get ready for dinner, while her mom is on the phone and her brother is hiding in his bedroom. At the beginning it seems like a normal (even somewhat boring) situation, with you doing a couple fetch quests in what is an extremely normal environment. But early on you figure out that all is not what it seems and your options are a lot more open than you realize. To say much more would be be spoiling it, so the rest of my review will be hidden behind spoiler tags below. But I will say this, even as the environment and puzzles aren't what they seem at first, neither is the story. The author's ending to the game really ties everything together nicely and brings some warmth to it. It is a fun story/game, especially for this time in the world.

Mid-Game: (Spoiler - click to show)The mechanic of being able to change things in the dollhouse and see them change in the normal house is great and I'm very curious what kind of coding it took to implement that. I did not figure that mechanic out by myself, but rather asked for a hint for another puzzle and got a hint that clued me in to being able to not just rearrange things in the house via the dollhouse, but to filter things through the dollhouse. I think it is a fair puzzle though, it is obvious looking at the dollhouse that it is a recreation of the actual house so I think it is only a matter of time and experimenting before you realize you can grow things.

As delightful of a turn as it was to have a dinosaur suddenly appear in the house (I loved the dialogue between father and daughter when that occurred), I wasn't as big a fan of the stegosaurus and hamster puzzles. Those steps didn't really follow upon one another and I had to rely heavily on the walkthrough. Also, for me the stegosaurus appeared before I'd gotten the brother out of his room, so I had to figure that puzzle out while this crushing sense of urgency to deal with the dinosaur is hanging over my head and it threw me off.

Late-Game: (Spoiler - click to show)So I figured out that you could take a page out of Inception and walk south from the dining room and into a much larger version of your room by accident. I was trying to navigate quickly and accidently typed south when I meant north. The next time I was in the dining room the description showing that you could go south was there and I wondered if I just missed it earlier. But the walkthrough talks about an exit that isn't listed (this must be the one time the instructions say you will have to type something in, rather than point and click). That said, if I hadn't discovered it on accident I think I would have become extremely frustrated by my inability to make progress shortly thereafter. And I think the problem is compounded by the point-and-click interface the author implemented (which I loved) that clearly let you know what was possible in most circumstances so that you wouldn't really consider stepping out of the house in that way. Though, now I see that perhaps that might have been the author's intention, to get you to think outside of the bottle, so to speak. Still, I think a better solution would be to have that exit appear when you'd progressed to a certain point in the game.

I thought adding this extra layer to the puzzles, being able to filter yourself through the dollhouse in addition to objects, was genius and was a lot of fun to use to solve the last puzzles, which I thought were clever and fair. The one thing I didn't like however, was climbing out of the house and down the ladder and realizing I'd messed something up and having to navigate my way all the way back to my room in the normal house to fix it.

Ending: (Spoiler - click to show)When it finally dawned on me that there was no one coming over to dinner a big grin spread across my face. I had noted the date on the calendar earlier and thought about the implications of having another family over to dinner during a pandemic, but then put them out of my head because games don't have to match reality. I wonder when the author conceived this game, if it was since the pandemic struck then that is a truly amazing amount of work to put in to a game of this complexity in about six months or less. The ending scenes and speeches were great and just what I needed to hear at the end of this year. Bravo!