Beware The Faerie Food You Eat

by Astrid Dalmady profile


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
A fairy tale without a happy ending, June 26, 2015
by CMG (NYC)

This game is about a journey into a fairy world. You step into a mushroom ring and emerge in an enchanted woodland filled with enchanted creatures. But the creatures are sly and dangerous, and it's much easier to die horribly on this journey than to find what you're seeking.

I really appreciate the take on the subject matter here. I can imagine some people saying that this is a "dark" spin on fairies, but actually, it's simply accurate. Fairies were respected and feared for a long time throughout history until they transformed into the wand-waving Tinkerbells that people think about today. In certain traditions, they're even associated with spirits risen from the dead. But mainly, they are amoral, and just as likely to drive a visitor to their realm insane for their amusement as to reward the visitor with (probably booby-trapped) gifts.

What we have in this game is almost a "greatest hits" of fairy trickery from different legends. You pass from one obstacle to another and see whether you can survive to keep going. It's nice, but it doesn't really do anything new with these ideas. I suspect that someone unfamiliar with the folklore would enjoy the game more than I did (I'm obsessed enough to have written a novel on this subject matter).

There are at least ten endings. I know this because at the end, the game lists them in ten spots with ???? next to the ones you haven't unlocked yet. But I do not know why it does this. I do not know why games in general do this. By giving players a checklist to complete, the game is encouraging you to lawnmower its branches until you have 100%. Nobody who does this will read the text fully each time. Whatever magic you might have first felt exploring the enchanted woodland is reduced to a mechanical, automatic exercise in clicking through the passages.

With this particular game, I bit the bullet and found eight endings. Finding these eight endings did not make me reevaluate the story or understand things in a new light. It diminished the experience.

I don't like multiple endings that exist just for the sake of having multiple endings. Normally, though, I don't care enough to write a review about it. But in this case, I love the subject matter so much, and the subject matter is so delicate, that being presented with such a game mechanic really threw a wrench into it for me.

I would recommend this game. Especially if you're only familiar with the sorts of fairies that fly around collecting teeth from under pillows. I would not recommend replaying this game once you reach any ending with the queen.

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Christina Nordlander, July 25, 2015 - Reply
I can think of one reason for a choice-based work to list possible endings: a lot of recent choice-based fiction (especially in Twine) tends to get called "linear", often with the implication that this is negative. I have myself played choice-based games that I've assumed to be completely linear, only to be surprised by a checklist after finishing (not the case for the present game, though). So I can think of that as one reason that the developer might include an ending checklist.

Other than that, I essentially agree with everything in your review.
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