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Horror/Surreal/Time Travel/Historical

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Number of Reviews: 14
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An initial rush of excitement, but can't sustain itself (literally), May 30, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

Shrapnel is impossible to describe without spoilers, so just know that if you like Cadre's writing or like gimmicks (and don't mind low interactivity) you should just play it. It takes about fifteen minutes.

Now, some spoilers:

(Spoiler - click to show)This could have been great. After being eaten by dogs and regenerating and seeing your own corpse, I thought I was in for a game of a lifetime. Sadly, like the game itself, the plot just collapses in on itself. The scenes are too short and too confusing to illuminate the characters. I've played it four or five times, and while I really enjoy the themes and the writing, I just find it terribly unsatisfying. Perhaps the part that disappoints me the most is when we meet the time traveler from the future who tries to explain things but just adds to the confusion.

Shade was released the same year, and while there are definite similarities, I thought Plotkin's work had a tighter narrative and felt more immersive.

All that said, the gimmick thrills me enough to give it four stars. Still, one of the weaker offerings from Cadre.

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
What a quirky game!, October 18, 2016

Definitely reminds me of 'Let's Make A Deal', door #1-dead, door #2-dead! LOL
Love it!

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A wildly inventive game with graphic content, February 3, 2016

Shrapnel messes with your head and with IF conventions in very creative ways. It starts out in typical Zorkian fashion (standing west of a white house) and quickly degenerates into bizarreness.

It has perhaps the most creative implementation I have ever seen. It is completely linear, and just pushes you through a story. It presents scenes out of sequence and you have to piece everything together, and it may take more than one playthrough to understand.

Unfortunately, it contains just about everything that could be considered as inappropriate content. Sexual abuse, violence, racism, and strong profanity. Not recommended for everyone. I felt uncomfortable playing it, but I think I am glad I tried it.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A lopsided puzzle-box, July 10, 2013
by Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.)
Related reviews: adam cadre

Play it if: you have a thing for mindscrew tales and want a short, essentially puzzleless story.

Don't play it if: you're looking for a story that's truly elegant and powerful, because the cool ideas here are not delivered in a very consistent way.

I think I'm noticing a trend with my reaction to Adam Cadre's work. I'm impressed by the technical stuff, the subversive elements blow my mind, and the actual stories leave me cold. The exception is Varicella, whose story I do find quite engaging. But other than that my favorite of his would still have to be 9:05, which numbers among the least technically skilled of his works but is also perhaps the most elegant, with the entire story structure focused on the singular aim of delivering the punchline.

Shrapnel fits fairly neatly into how I think I perceive his work. The ideas are interesting, the subversion of traditional IF devices such as ressurection is excellent, and the story leaves me a bit too confused to describe.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I understand what happened/happens/willen haven been able to have be happening...but it's not really delivered correctly. It's reminiscent of that much-awaited blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises. To spare (admittedly unlikely) spoiler pain, I'll just say that a certain amount of backstory is revealed at precisely the wrong time for it to have any emotional impact, and it undermines much of the third act as a result.

The thing is, the last-minute reveal works well when it's a simple thing that crystallizes everything that came before. But there's nothing simple about the explanation for Shrapnel, and the player doesn't even find out through piecemeal investigation. It's just a fairly long-winded, multi-turn exposition-fest...admittedly something to which science fiction can fall prey, but even mediocre science fiction tends to know how to get the tiresome recitation of knowledge out of the way at the beginning of the story.

I don't want to give the impression that I hated Shrapnel; I quite liked it, really, not least for its initial setup and the execution of that core idea (not to mention the very end, which is quite memorable). But it is a bit of a jumble, really, and could have benefited from a bit more tinkering with the structure.

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Scary, but at a price, July 8, 2013

This game (if you can call it a game, you can't really play it) is really only good at one thing. It's not a fun way to pass time. It's not an interesting story to play through. What it's good at is sending you on a ride. The storyline (or lack thereof) tosses you around in every which direction without warning, which is confusing (and not quite as fun), but it ends up working to startle you more often than not.

That being said, I still wish that there WAS a storyline. As stated above, it's confusing and not really as fun as it can be. I love text-based horror, but I really wish there was a plot. While you do get a bit of a sense of what's going on as you advance through the game, it still takes quite a while to get used to. I'm also not a fan of the fact that the game sort of takes the player hostage. What I mean is that you don't get very much say in what's going on. For the most part, you just press 'space' over and over again as it advances through the story. Even when you die and it says "would you like to 'QUIT' 'RESTART' or 'RESTORE?", you can press whatever you want and it will come up as "restart".

I like that Shrapnel went out on a limb and tried something new, but sometimes you should just stick to what works.

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Get confused!, March 27, 2012

It exists two kinds of confusing games. Either you gets confused and irritated or you gets confused and compelled to continue playing to knew that is happening. This game is the essence of the positive confused. You don't understand anything of that is happening and you like it.

It might be an idea to compare Shrapnel to the authors other famous puzzleless and confusing game Photopia. Photopia has an good ending/explanation but I think Shrapnels is even better. And another thing that is to Shrapnels benefit is its very short length. Photopia starts getting irritating in the later parts. But Shrapnel is already over before you starts getting impatient for an explanation.

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
Sorry, do you mind if I put a fragmentation grenade in your mind?, September 4, 2011
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

In certain respects, Shrapnel is a lot like Photopia: a distinct lack of freedom for the player, a fragmented narrative. But where Photopia's story is merely told non-chronologically and from different points of view, Shrapnel's story has quite literally been blown apart by a fragmentation grenade.

The strong point of the game is its presentation. Using several fun gimmicks and some surprising twists and turns, Cadre manages to keep us interested in playing the (short) game even when the story doesn't make much sense.

The weak point of the game is that there isn't much of real interest to be found in it. The basic story might have been powerful if it had been expanded upon, but is hardly moving or illuminating it its current fragmented state. And the deus ex machina explanations of the meta-plot that we get at the end do not rise beyond the level of forgettable SF.

Two stars because the story is lazy and the gimmick mostly gimmicky, or three stars because the execution is very good? I'm going with three stars, partly because the game is so streamlined and short that it is worth checking out even if you probably won't be blown away by it. Bad pun very much intended, of course.

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Not My Favorite, May 26, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

Okay, it's hard to say much without giving away the story but...

First of all, you are in a small area similar to Zork's white house. And you get killed. Then you restart and get killed a different way. And so forth.

One of my big complaints in this one is the lack of interactivity. There are 4 or 5 rooms you just wander around in until some plot happens. The big gimmick here is the way the game interprets things (Spoiler - click to show) Such as forcing you to RESTART when given the quit or restart options on death

I am a big fan of Cadre's other games, to the point where I am now seeking out his other works to play them. This one didn't strike me, however. There was a lot of info dump at the end, and little interactivity.

What was interesting was the choice of medium. For the style of story he was writing, he had 2 choices: IF, or Short Film (in a memento style). The use of IF was daring here, and he is definately one to experiment with his IF styles, and for that I give him credit. This one, I just didn't feel. Even photopia, with its limited choices, gave the illusion of freedom, and I-0 seemed way open, with multiple branches to the ending. With this one, most of the game was pressing the space bar to advance the text, and that wasn't what I was looking for with the IF.

Still, if you're a fan of the story- the story itself is fairly interesting.

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Ingenious but unsatisfying, October 12, 2009

I loved the gimmick to this game, something that I doubt would have worked so well in another medium, so I was disappointed to find that the story was fairly shallow. Everything was very linear, and there was little to draw the player in, so the gimmick fell flatter than it could have in a more deeply involved game, and the canned explanation it got at the end, while creative, spoiled a lot of the surreality that was the main reason it worked for me in the first place.

Overall it's a good stylistic experiment, and I just wish it could have been executed in a more emotionally satisfying way.

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Fragments from an explosion, November 11, 2008
by WriterBob (Richmond Hill, Ontario)

"Shrapnel," lives up to its name quite beautifully. This game could not have had any other name. Here is another fine example of a game that stretches traditional IF to its boundaries. Things aren't always as they appear.

There were no instances of "guess-the-verb," nor any traditional puzzles. There are no puzzles in the traditional sense. For the most part, the player/character wanders through the game as an observer (in a very literal sense) until the climax is reached.

And that is why I could not give this game a higher rating. As enjoyable as it was, this game really flowed on rails, taking the player from one scene to the next smoothly and easily with minimal interaction.

All in all, this brief game is a pleasure to play, and was executed skillfully. It would perhaps be a good game for newcomers to IF to understand what the medium has to offer.

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