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Number of Reviews: 2
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"Passing Familiarity" starts out with a convenient amnesia plot device -- you come to your senses having drunk a bottle of the waters of Lethe and have no idea who you are or why you would have done such a thing. The writing is solid and has a slightly Victorian flavor. The characters are believable if somewhat melodramatic in parts of the revealed story.
There are several possible endings, which I normally like but which in this case just makes the game slightly frustrating. It is extremely easy to win the game without having learned much of your past, and that ending is so positive that it doesn't give much justification for playing again unless you really like puzzles for their own sake. The puzzles themselves are reasonably well-implemented. It's a bit of a scavenger hunt to find both your memories and various components you need, but a well-done one if you like that sort of thing. There is at least one obvious bug: (Spoiler - click to show) a spell you can cast to reveal memories formed in different rooms can be cast multiple times, revealing the same memory but giving you another 2 points each time.
The file currently here on IFDB includes a complete walkthrough for each ending, but there is almost no in-game help other than a rather long-winded description of your inventory constraints and a tip that there is more than one ending. This game is one for which an in-game hint system would have provided both assistance and teasers for other things the player might want to try out even after finding the obvious exit.
At first, Passing Familiarity welcomes you in, by presenting you with a sympathetic protagonist. As the game progresses, you find out that is merely a parlor trick, as the protagonist is actually altogether unsympathetic; the welcome is only for the purpose of being stung by barbs.
To be specific, the protagonist begins her story as someone with a faulty memory (yes it's a cliche`, but I don't hold that against the author). Naturally you want to help her recover her memory. Only as you discover more clues to who she is, you really don't want to. Her self-centered sense of entitlement, her anti-Christian bias, and the decided slant of the game towards witchcraft (and all its pagan/Satanic overtones) as opposed to alchemy, magic, or other terms, seals the deal.
You could argue that the characterization of Christianity in the game is merely a characterization of its corruption, and not of its true essence; that's the line that many opponents fall back on when questioned. Of course, the lack of a positive counterpoint and their vehemence reveals that they cannot conceive of any "true essence". The author has every right to make a game with that as a primary component, but a warning would have been nice.
The descriptions are concise with occasional embellishments; they serve well to make the rooms memorable in a few short sentences. There are a multiplicity of objects which would make figuring out what is supposed to do what probably a chore. I can't comment on the other aspects of the game, because I found it simply not worth playing once I knew the protagonist.
This is a warning sign more than an exhaustive review.
Passing Familiarity on IFDB
PollsThe following polls include votes for Passing Familiarity:
A Poll About ... A Poll About ... Hm. That's Funny. I Can't Recall. by Ghalev
As of the founding of this poll, the IFDB has only seven games with the "amnesia" tag. I don't buy that for an instant. Please vote for games where the player-protagonist-person is dealing with a bout of forgetfulness (usually about who...
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