Tapestry

by Daniel Ravipinto

Afterlife/Religious/Time Travel
1996

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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

I thought this was really an impressive piece of work. Yes, it was a bit heavy-handed at times, and probably a little too derivative of Neil Gaiman's visions of Fate and Evil in his Sandman cycle. But nonetheless, I found the situations compelling, the dilemmas convincing, and if a work is going to be derivative of someone, you could do a hell of a lot worse than Gaiman.

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- Zape, May 31, 2020

- kierlani, April 16, 2020

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Loose threads, May 25, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

Tapestry was one of those games that was pretty revolutionary when it was released. Replaying parts of one's life wasn't a new concept by any means, but the storytelling device was ripe for the interactive-fiction treatment. As such it wooed me at the time, but replaying it all these years later I mostly just see the flaws.

The first problem I have with the game is that the story and all the player's goals are spelled out entirely in the prologue. It's a somewhat interactive text dump, but for the most part it successfully removes all wonder from the playing experience. You are shown key moments from your life you can replay, you are told how you can replay them and how you can reach the three distinct endings. What follows is essentially the video game equivalent of cutscenes: lots of exposition without much interaction. Yes, there are a couple of puzzles, but they're rudimentary and you have to more or less repeat the puzzles on each playthrough which is quite tedious.

The second problem I have with the game is the simplicity of the moral choices. The first one involves deciding whether or not to go to the hospital to watch your mother die or save a small family business from going under. Perhaps somewhere at sometime a real human has had to face such a decision, but it didn't move me; all I could think about was that my jerk of a coworker Mike couldn't cover for me while I went to the hospital. The second moral choice involves euthanizing your wife or trying to prolong it with a new drug treatment; the moral debate over euthanasia aside (and why are there only two options here?), all I could think about was how silly it was that the player and his wife seemed to never have once had a discussion about this before the player is forced to make the choice.

The overall theme of fate and guilt is a good one, and Ravipinto's writing and coding are solid. But the design of the game and the moral choices left me cold and I found it hard to care about the characters or their fates.


- SchnickelFritz (TX), December 26, 2018

- TheAncientOne, July 23, 2017

- Kyriakos Sgarbas (Hellas (Greece)), July 4, 2017

- Laney Berry, May 18, 2017

- finnn62, December 14, 2016

- Lanternpaw, March 12, 2016

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
An influential early game about moral choices, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

Tapestry is a game that came up quite a bit in early IF discussions due to its unusual storytelling strategy. It remains fairly well-known.

Tapestry is a story about the afterlife, where a man is confronted with his 3 most despicable moments in life, and a chance to revisit each. You can deny each memory and fight against it, you can accept the memory and your shame, or you can accept the memory and deny your shame.

It is well-known for its moral choices, and for having several distinct paths, one of which is almost puzzle-free (the one where nothing changes), while one is puzzle-intensive (fighting your fate).

The first time I played it, months ago, I didn't really like it, and I stopped after the second panel. But this time, I used the walkthrough, and I read the story more, and I really liked it, and even found it emotionally satisfying.

The game gives an entire recap story at the end (about 2 pages), showing what life you really led.

An interesting, fascinating game. I recommend it (and don't feel bad about using a walkthrough, as many of the puzzles are just busywork). I do regret using the walkthrough at the very end in the 'accepting your fate' lines.


- BlitzWithGuns, May 24, 2015

- Thrax, March 12, 2015

- Katrisa (Houston), December 21, 2014

- Molly (USA), September 11, 2014

- DAzebras, April 28, 2013

- Zepton (Canada), April 6, 2013

- DJ (Olalla, Washington), March 19, 2013

- AADA7A, September 19, 2012

- E.K., August 14, 2012

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Good game, but flawed, April 25, 2012
by Rymbeld (Greensboro, NC)

Tapestry. You've died, and now are confronted by the tapestry of your life, woven by Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos: the fates of Greek myth. The three of them, along with Lucifer, confront you for judgment, but also to give you another chance to revisit three key moments in your life. Will you make a change, or not? You are filled with regret and shame, but is it because of what you've done, or have you simply looked at things from the wrong perspective? Perhaps your life was good after all.

Fate, judgment and the meaning of life are the key themes in Daniel Ravpinto's first IF game, which won the Xyzzy award for Best Story in 1996 (and came in second place in the IF Competition that same year). The game begins in death and hackneyed writing: although it was nominated for Best Writing, I found it to be cheap and pulpy, especially the long, opening prologue.

"Fleeting glimpses of faces half-remembered in the gloom," the game begins. Then this seemingly endless fragment: "Screams, the sound of squealing tires, a sudden thump, a sickening crunch and a violent jolt followed by a sense of weightlessness and disassociation." Already the text of the game feels heavy handed. But it gets worse, when we appear in a room called Nothing: "Concepts like time and place have no meaning here. Your mind attempts to impose something, some order, some structure, upon the space in which you exist, and fails." Oh, come on. Is this a lecture? The opening prologue reads like pretentious pseudo-philosophy. I had a hard time pushing myself to read on.

Especially when you are teleported to a tower and an interview with Satan, who is here to judge you. I felt like I was in a Chick tract, to be honest. Maybe it's my religious upbringing, but I've seen this story before: you've done horrible things, you have to relive them and account for them or maybe change them. And the writing in the Prologue section was so incredibly stilted and overblown that I had a hard time taking the game seriously. Which is actually a shame, because once you get into the game proper, it's not that bad. Tapestry actually has some good ideas, marred only by a hokey premise.

In some games, I suppose you could let bad writing slide. But not in Tapestry, because there's a lot of it. You often are given large dumps of text to read. In fact, one reviewer mentioned that Tapestry might have been more effective as a short story, given how much you have to read at any given time anyway. But I think that such a story would still require a re-write. Of course, I should back off a little here with the recognition that some of this is taste. I'm sure plenty of people found the writing satisfying.

Once you get into the game itself, you get to relive some pretty horrible events. Even though I didn't care for the structuring premise of the gameplay, I thought that the way Ravpinto structured the progress of the game within each section was very nice. Basically, Ravpinto tried to create puzzles which were consistent with the gameworld and seemed like natural actions for the protagonist to take. In some ways, they aren't actually puzzles at all, but actions the player takes to advance the plot further. The emphasis isn't on "solving" the game, but progressing through it, making choices to determine the outcome. In this way, the game is very interesting, and does something very well. Abstract puzzles and off-kilter world logic are absent from this game, allowing players to "inhabit" the protagonist and try thinking like a real person.

I hope I find more games that try this sort of thing, because this is exactly what interactive fiction needs to be legitimate. Don't get me wrong, So Far is a very fun game, and I liked it much more than Tapestry, but Tapestry is moving in the right direction for those who are craving interactive stories rather than mere puzzles. As such, Tapestry seems like an important step in the development of IF, even though framing narrative is too heavy-handed and derivative for me. In spite of its blemishes, you should try it out. The game is very short, playable in an hour.


- Peloquin, April 14, 2012

- Sam Kabo Ashwell (Seattle), August 2, 2011

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), January 31, 2011

- Ben Cressey (Seattle, WA), December 22, 2010


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