Opening Night

by David Batterham


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Number of Ratings: 28
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- gattociao, August 18, 2023

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Your storyline, all decided before the curtain rises, January 3, 2023
by Lance Cirone (Backwater, Vermont)

Opening Night is so much more than it appears. It's a short game, taking me around 40 minutes, so please give it a try.

You are attending an opening night show for Miranda Lily, your favorite Broadway star. You've saved up for weeks with your pay from the factory, and you've got a rose ready to give to Miranda when you finally meet her in person.

Getting into the theater and intercepting the doorman who won't let you in because of the dress code requires some good ol' cartoony hijinks. I was expecting a similar silly tone from the rest of the game, but the performance sets the stage for something much deeper. Spoilers abound.

So many moments after (Spoiler - click to show)the intermission just had me ask "wait, what?" and "did I read that right?" It drove me to figure out the mystery and understand what was truly happening. The game weaves in flashback text with the current happenings, and time skips at key moments.

The game's biggest surprise would have to be that (Spoiler - click to show)Miranda is DEAD. She started acting in movies, which "stripped her of her immediacy, her presence, reduced her to the sum of her parts" and sent her into a downward spiral. She became an alcoholic and died. The fact that we came back to the theater just to remember the biggest day of our lives, before the place gets torn down. We spent weeks trying to build up the courage to give her the rose, because one in-person performance made us feel unworthy of her presence; and you get to put the wilted stem in a vase in Miranda's abandoned dressing room. It's a perfect bittersweet moment.

I couldn't believe it by the end. I was shocked. The way everything develops is outstanding. The puzzles are simple enough that you can solve them without hints, putting full focus on the story. I'd definitely recommend this one.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A rose for a star., December 3, 2022
by Rovarsson (Belgium)

A bouncer looks down his nose at you. "So sorry to inform you, sir, but we do have a dress code here. If you would be so kind to adhere to it or shove off. Please."

Opening Night starts out with a straightforward puzzle: find a way past the bouncer and into the theatre. We meet our player character, who seems to be a somewhat obsessed fan of the lead singer/actress in the play this evening. His insistence upon getting in goes two ways: it garners sympathetic feelings for his obvious and honest admiration for the show's leading lady, but it also verges on the edge of creepiness.

In later chapters however, the need to get a personal meeting with the actress falls away as the prime motivation of the game as it transforms into another story altogether.

There are puzzles, but they serve mostly as a means to get the player more deeply involved with the story.Away to elicit a deeper emotional response as the game goes through its metamorphosis.

In the end, Opening Night is a short and compressed tale centered around the eponymous pivotal night in the protagonist's life. While the game shows us only scenes from the theatre and its immediate surroundings and never elaborates on the player character's personal life, Opening Night still manages to somehow imply the protagonist's entire life story. We are given just enough hints to let the imagination take over and fill in the blank years.

Very strong storytelling.

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- jdm, July 11, 2022

- Edo, March 3, 2022

- SchnickelFritz (TX), August 22, 2021

- xkia, November 16, 2020

- Xuan Li, July 6, 2020

- airylef, December 22, 2017

- SciFinn (Alberta, Canada), December 14, 2016

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Short, dreamlike parser game set entirely in one location, September 21, 2016
by verityvirtue (London)

[Time to completion: 45 minutes-1 hour]

This is a short, surreal parser game which opens in front of a theatre on its opening night. You are here to see the actress Miranda Lily, but you're not well-dressed enough.

I underestimated this game at first, taking it for your usual puzzle game. The puzzles, though, used a bit of adventure game logic: (Spoiler - click to show)searching through a dumpster after attending a concert seems a bit off to me.

Opening Night is much more than the puzzles: it's almost dreamlike, and the single setting - the theatre - changes as you progress, reflecting the player's knowledge. The PC's identity also changes as you go through the game, ultimately revealing them to be (Spoiler - click to show)an unreliable narrator. The final reveal of their identity was not exactly unexpected, but was still satisfying.

Worth a whirl, it's not too long.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A delightful early 1900s game with some surprises up its sleeves, February 4, 2016

This game surprised me with its emotional effect, because it has a slow burn opening. You are a huge fan of theatre actress Mirada Lily, and have come on the opening night of her big show to give her a rose.

This game is relatively short and easy. I wasn't sure what to do with one item, but you just use everything.

Your main goal is to get into the theatre, as you are not dressed well enough to be allowed in.

Strongly recommended.

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- Ivanr, September 6, 2015

- <blank>, July 1, 2015

- Sobol (Russia), September 12, 2014

- Zepton (Canada), April 6, 2013

- E.K., February 7, 2012

- Ben Cressey (Seattle, WA), January 26, 2011

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent, August 24, 2009

Opening Night starts out seeming like your average puzzle game (albeit with excellent prose). Your goal is to give a rose to Miranda Lily, star of the stage - your problem is getting past that obnoxious doorman. A couple simple puzzles take you past this problem, and then the game really begins to shine.
There are more puzzles, but the focus of the game really is on the story, as the author says in the "about" section.
I found the interweaving of memory and present startling and surreal, and the pacing is excellent. I gradually began to put the pieces together, painting a haunting picture, and the final revalation brings everything together in a sad and satisfying way.
There are no in-game hints, but they aren't really necessary. While I often look at hints at least once during a game, I never needed to during Opening Night.
The game is rather linear, but this never presented a problem, and perhaps actually enhanced the story to a degree (think Photopia). Overall an excellent, very satisfying, very polished work.

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- jahilia, August 2, 2009

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Captivates the mind and the heart, July 27, 2009
by Dark-Star (Nebraska)

Beginning and ending with a man on a mission, Opening Night is a brief but captivating journey through the mind of a person trying to tie up a nagging loose end in his life while he is still able.

The story begins with the protagonist outside a theatre on the opening night of a play starring his love, Miranda Lily, hoping to grace her presence long enough to give the gift of a single rose. Unfortunately, his dilapidated apparel firmly bars him from gaining entrance and some ingenuity will be required to solve the problem.

So far, so average. But once the curtain goes up on Mz. is then that the genius and literary prose of the game begin to shine. Revealing neither too much nor too little at once as the storyline progresses, the author draws you into the mind of an embittered man whose story may well strike a chord within yourself. As the last act of the game begins, one almost wishes to reach into the screen and put an arm around the individual who has been your eyes and ears for the duration.

The long and short of it: David Batterham has pulled off a five-star literary masterpiece. I not only give a standing ovation to Opening Night, but call for an encore as well. Superb!

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- Mark Jones (Los Angeles, California), March 31, 2009

- Neale Grant (Hove, England), January 5, 2009

- dutchmule, January 4, 2009

- Al, November 27, 2008

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