A Figure Met in a Shaded Wood

by Michael Thomét profile


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Number of Ratings: 17
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1-17 of 17

- Molly (USA), October 1, 2018

- The Xenographer, August 12, 2016

- Doug Orleans (Somerville, MA, USA), May 20, 2016

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A game about fate and modern culture, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: IF Comp 2015

This is a short Twine IFComp game about fate. A vagabond is passing through a wood, making a variety of moral choices and inconsequential choices. They meet a strange figure with an air of mystery.

The game has more to it than it looks at first. I enjoyed trying various options to see how the game turned out in the end.

A nice part of the game is the visuals. The game has a beautiful set of images later in the game that are worth checking out.

I recommend this game to those who are interested in discussions of fate and morality.

- Edward Lacey (Oxford, England), December 20, 2015

- Aryore, December 12, 2015

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Focused on making a point, but doesn't say much about it, November 20, 2015

This game looks good - nice typography and choice of colors, and a few appropriate images. The first playthrough is very short (5 minutes for me), but the game is meant to be played several times.

The setting is that of a vagabond in what appears to be similar to the Middle Ages; the theme obviously involves a fortune teller, and you are presented with a few choices that seem inconsequential - but, as a good player of interactive fiction, you recognize those choices as preferences that might reveal your personality. The setup kind of reminded me of the beginning of Morrowind, or any of the other RPGs (Ultima IV, maybe?) that use the "what would you do in this situation" questions to gauge your personality - very familiar, then, and this is a good choice on the author's part to use this setting.

The first playthrough is nothing special, it ends abruptly after getting your fortune told: of course, you want to start again and try different choices. That's when the game reveals its conceit; but it reveals it in a way that i found quite brutal and unsubtle. Namely, the figure completely breaks the fourth wall (since the vagabond doesnt appear in the text), has quite an antagonistic tone ("What? What did you expect?"), spouts off text that shows that, surprise, it had tracked your choices (one paragraph = one choice, which is not very subtle or fun), and tells you at the last sentence that you could try again. Except, no, I didn't want to try again: I found it too on-the-nose and unsubtle for me to not get it, and to think that there could be a way to change the final outcome. I felt that the twist was revealed too soon (at the 2nd playthrough instead of, say, the 4th), and was too blunt and closed too many things: given what's before (a rhetorical question), the "you could try again" comes off as a "you could waste your time some more", which just made me quit. (Ok, I checked a third time just in case, but I wasn't willing to spend more time on this to see if the 10th iteration was any different.)

I guess the game was trying to make a point about restarting games to achieve better outcomes; that it doesn't work like that sometimes i guess, and that you don't have the agency in the game to change anything except quitting. But i didn't feel like the game tried to have anything more to say, which was disappointing. I played "Save the Date!" a while ago, and found it quite deep and interesting, with nice variations and characters and a few interesting things to say on the same topic; maybe it's hard to come after that, and maybe it's unfair for me to compare both, but, they are about the same thing... I might have liked it more if there was some variability, even maybe having fun with the concept (the hooded figure could become impatient, roll their eyes, joke that the cards will change if they get 10 pheasants, plead for the player to stop, etc..), but it might not have been what the author intended; as it is, though, its message is not very deep nor subtle, which made the experience somewhat unsatisfying in my opinion.

- Oreolek (Kemerovo, Russia), November 18, 2015

- Cat Manning, November 17, 2015

- necromancer, November 16, 2015

- Karl Ove Hufthammer (Bergen, Norway), November 9, 2015

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), October 31, 2015

- Sobol (Russia), October 28, 2015

- tekket (Česká Lípa, Czech Republic), October 10, 2015

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Stylish little Twine piece, October 3, 2015
by streever (America)

I initially found the language a little challenging; this game takes place with a separation of player and character that confused me slightly. I think it ultimately works, but it wasn't easy at first to identify my actions with the character.

I really liked the atmosphere, style, typography, and design of this piece; I enjoyed following through it. I enjoyed making decisions as I played. Perhaps it's a bit of a (very minor) spoiler, but I'm not sure how I felt about the lack of consequence to my choices. Is it a meta-commentary on Interactive Fiction? Part of the decision-making process for many players is about establishing their identity and playing with hypothetical scenarios that let you project a possibly idealized self-identity. I didn't bury the apple core because I would do that in real life; I also didn't do it to 'win' the game or 'follow the good path'. I did it because I like to think that I would do it, and I liked that the game let me express that level of conscientiousness and thoughtfulness.

I don't know how I feel about the ending, and I don't know if I enjoyed the experience when I got to the end; the game features a lot of repetition, and nothing I did made any change to the outcome. I think I'm OK with that, but it did detract from my enjoyment of the game. I think it was brave of the author to play with the expectations of players, which makes me think it's worth trying, even if it fails ultimately; it's hard to deliberately end a game in a way that may be dissatisfying to the player, and I think that was the decision made here. That, combined with the styling, atmosphere, and sense of mystery, make this a worthy play.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Hypertext Will Eat Itself?, October 3, 2015

One expects a certain amount of linearity with Twine games, and A Figure Met in a Shaded Wood is no exception. The game itself is unique in that it attempts to justify this non-interactivity as a mechanic. Whether this is a high-brow metacomment on modern interactive hyperfiction, or just a way to make you think you're playing a game when you're really not, is a hard question to answer.

The story tells of a vagrant's venture through the woods, and an encounter with a mysterious tarot-card reader. The writing is captivating and flows well with the format. I found no difficulty in following the story, and the imagery was vivid in my mind.

One could argue that the symbolism of tarot is a bit of a cop-out. What easier metaphors are there for an author to take advantage of than the famed mystical cards?

I noticed a couple of logic errors. Certain actions were reflected upon that I made the choice not to do, and a non-existent racoon was mentioned.

The passages are repeated often when the player takes a different route, and again attempted to be justified by the "wheel of time" approach this game takes. I don't buy it.

Is A Figure Met in a Shaded Wood a comment on free will and fate, or is it an attempt at subverting the criticism that many choice-IF games recieve? The reader in me says the former, and the cynic in me says the latter. Either way, work of the depth to make me ask the question is worthy of some praise.

- Khalisar (Italy), October 2, 2015

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