Deprivation

by Michael Coorlim profile

Surreal
2015

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Not fully-formed, but has potential, August 24, 2015

"Deprivation" is an 'apartment game' in which your character has insomnia and is rather fragile following a sad event.

The game is fairly well implemented, although sparsely; I'd expect from an 'apartment game' that the objects have lots of responses and messages, but they don't really. (Among the problems, (Spoiler - click to show)read book = x bookcase, >think doesn't do anything although I'd expect it to do something in this case, since our protagonist is brooding, you can't open the bottle of mustard, there's empty scenery, "sleep: go to bed then; >go to bed: it's right there", etc.)
Look, maybe I'm biased because I just spent a lot of time on it and its source, but the best 'apartment game' is _Shade_, in that it does everything almost perfectly. Each object has 15 or 20 different responses, moving is super smooth, etc. I'm also mentioning _Shade_ because the readme of Deprivation says it's a "state-based game", when I didn't see any real difference in the setting or in the protagonist as the game progressed (and _Shade_ is an amazing example for that).

The setting is different here, and it could go several interesting ways: exploring the relationship, fighting the blues, paranomal/surreal, etc., so I'd like to see more; but for now, it seems like the game is missing direction. As a player, I have absolutely no idea what I'm supposed to do: I poked around a little bit, but I don't know if I'm supposed to make the PC feel better, or worse (I tried acting as self-destructive as I could, just to see if that was the way the game was trying to make me go), or whatever I want, or am I supposed to watch out for surreal elements, or did I miss something... The game doesn't really say anything, and I also found that the descriptions weren't really setting a particular mood; they're kind of neutral, when the PC's inner state should be more reflected (I was surprised when (Spoiler - click to show)the game denied me cake out of self-loathing - I hadn't realized it was that bad). Also, there's a few instances of "tell, don't show": for instance (Spoiler - click to show)the movie on the TV is described as "you've seen it before, you identify as the protagonist and it makes you feel better": how? why? what is the movie, what is it about? tell me about the movie so I can imagine it and thus imagine how the protagonist feels like: show, don't tell). And same things for (Spoiler - click to show)the texts and the emails.

So, I'd like to see more, but not really thanks to what the game showed, since there really isn't much there in terms of story or hints of events to come; the setting could lead to an interesting game, but also to a boring one unfortunately, so it's a bit tricky. There are problems in this introduction that need to be addressed for it to really work and not be just a "my apartment sucks, my life sucks" game; we need stronger characterization or direction in the game, and more stuff happening, and a stronger-than-average implementation. Really, _Shade_ is a good example that gets it right, and there are lots of ideas to steal and principles to follow in there.