External Links

There are two different .gblorb files, one for each player.
itch.io page
Download the two players' gblorb game files, and walkthroughs.
Story file for first player, at the IF Archive.
This is a pseudo-format used to represent download adviser records that apply to multiple formats.
Story file for second player, at the IF Archive.
This is a pseudo-format used to represent download adviser records that apply to multiple formats.
Walkthrough and map
by David Welbourn

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The Purple Pearl

by Amanda Walker profile


Web Site

(based on 3 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

A stolen treasure. A desperate king. Two valorous volunteers will prove their worth as a team to recover the luck of the kingdom, or die trying.

This is a 2-player text adventure. You will need a partner to play. There are 2 separate game files, player A and player B. Your partner can be in the same room with you on a different screen, or anywhere in the world as long as you are in contact during play via phone, text, email, or direct messaging.

Game Details


1st Place - tie, Classic - ParserComp 2023


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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Two-player parser puzzler, July 5, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

I didn't play this game in the intended way (just opened two windows and played both).

I've played 3 or 4 two-player IF games in the last few years, and I think this one definitely benefits from being in the same room or able to talk to each other. The other two-player games I played had a major twist that was apparent from the start and sharing info would have ruined that. This one is different; even having complete knowledge of the other game doesn't really help you in the current game.

Instead, codes are used primarily to move objects from one game to another. When this occurs, you get a code you send to the other player, and they type that in to get an effect in game.

The puzzles are designed to be fairly light, but there were times when I got stuck in one of the games for ten or fifteen minutes, which is why I wonder if it would be better for the two players to talk to each other and bounce ideas off each other.

I loved the humor in the game; puzzles were oddball and events were shocking at times and cute at others. Despite this I never felt immersed in the game world; it definitely felt artificial and made as a kind of puzzlebox; but it was a very enjoyable puzzlebox, even as a single player.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
ParserComp 2023: The Purple Pearl, July 8, 2023
by kaemi
Related reviews: ParserComp 2023

One trend in IF over the past several years has been a resurgent interest in two player games, starting with The Last Night in Alexisgrad, then Ma Tiger’s Terrible Trip, now The Purple Pearl. Whereas the first two games were Twine, with context fractured decision sets advancing a mutually determined sequence, this is a parser game, where the multiplayer elements are rendered as a more granular interaction with a shared puzzlebox.

Literally a puzzlebox, as you are stuck in a cell chockful of random machines and the bricabrac implausibly associated with them; semiliterally shared, as you’re in an adjacent cell from which you can influence the other player but which still locks you in your own puzzles. Your interactions with the other player consist of sending items over to them or making environmental modifications that affect the situation in the other cell. As you set about solving, you’re in constant dialogue with the other player (thanks Josh for playing with me!), considering in what ways your playstate might require their intervention and in what ways you can intervene upon theirs.

The Purple Pearl tries several ways to encourage this communication and be clever about underlining the multiplayer component of the puzzling. First, your cell is just similar enough to theirs that the solutions you encounter can be conveyed to them as potentially useful information. This led to the only real moments of collaborative puzzlesolving, where a dial puzzle we had brainstormed earlier suddenly showed up on my side, and a brick with a weird message was easier to interpret when I found a similar message. Second, there is a clever solution to the “you’ve gotten stuck in a two player game” problem that invites your partner to participate in helping you through: “There is a hint system, but it contains hints only for your partner.” This helps to soothe any tedium that might build up if you’re sitting around waiting. Third, the gaps in your puzzles that are filled by the items or events that your partner sends over are pretty obviously clued, meaning that whenever something shoots your way, you can quickly set about using it to reveal what’s next, creating a seamless pacing that allows for the back and forth to flow.

Still, the game feels more like a sketch than a fully designed experience. Rather than function as any cohesive set of obstacles, the gauntlet offered here is a series of abstract ideas seemingly devloaded into the space with unfinished textures. Listening to a plaque shaped like lips for a code for the nearby vending machine, after which it puckers for a kiss, which then raises a platform with a safe, which requires a key randomly tied to a frog sent through from your partner, but which requires some disambiguating to work (“>unlock hex lock with hex key / That doesn’t seem to be something you can unlock.”), your progress through nested interactions seem vague and disconnected, which detracts from the multiplayer environment puzzling. Often, I would disappear down a gnarl of dream actions, then five minutes later I’d have a code to send to my partner for their own inexplicable journey. Moreover, this disconnection meant that it was hard to know what to send over to my partner: for some reason I give them a rock, a cube, but I’m supposed to keep the egg, the feather, the potion…

Combined with the handwave plot and the perfunctory tone, The Purple Pearl performs more as a proof of concept than the latest Amanda Walker opus. So the good news is that the concept works! There is quite clearly a rich set of possibilities hinting towards fertile veins of design. The greatest strength evinced is the increased awareness of rhythm in gameplay: rather than disappearing down the parser, your journey keeps throwing you back to the surface to connect with your partner, creating a metronome that enriches your sense of progress. Parser exploration becomes less immersive and more discursive. Because these explorations are presented as interdependences rather than the shared spaces of MUDs, an ambiguous metalayer sheens over the objects that define your interactions, transforming sounds to echoes. With a little Walker emotive magic, one could imagine a setting in which, for example, two people explore the same mansion separated by a century, with the stories of the past bubbling up to the present day and the needs of the present reminiscing in the missingnesses of the past, crafting resonances only recognizable through two vantage points, a new degree of freedom for plotting meaning, alchemy emphasizing the parser as perspective.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Dual escape, September 22, 2023
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: ParserComp 2023

The past couple of years have seen a mini-trend of multiplayer IF, kicked off I think by Milo van Mesdag’s 2021 IFComp entry Last Night of Alexisgrad. That was a narrative-driven, choice-based game where the players assumed oppositional roles – one protagonist was an invading general, the other was the leader of the city’s defenders – and the half-dozen or so choices each selected over the course of the game had a direct impact on the course of the story. Subsequent games have riffed on this same basic framework: van Mesdag’s 2022 follow-up, A Chinese Room, separated its player characters and obfuscated the effect each’s decision had on the other, while Travis Moy’s Ma Tiger’s Terrible Trip collapsed the distance between decision-points, unlike its more sedately-paced predecessors, which required it to be played in real time. The Purple Pearl is the latest extrapolation of this multiplayer Nouvelle Vague, and perhaps the greatest departure yet, because here it’s a puzzle game rather than one that’s heavily story-driven, and parser-based rather than a choice game.

The plot here is intentionally disposable: two fantasy kingdoms are at war over a MacGuffin, and your home’s been getting the short end of the stick, so the king comes up with a test to find the best, cleverest team of two to send on the mission to recover the thingy. The game is the test – maybe there’ll eventually be a sequel to cover the actual quest for the eponymous purple pearl? – so there’s a built in rationale for the various puzzles and built-in contrivances that require the players to work together, which is a canny choice allowing author and player alike to concentrate on the mechanics rather than a fictional layer that could easily feel quite strained and secondary.

In fact, the setup resembles nothing so much as an escape room or old Cube Escape style Flash games; each player wakes up alone in an empty chamber with a series of odd devices and clues on each wall, and needs to work through them all in turn. The rub is the need for collaboration – the specific devices and clues are different for each player, because each is playing a separate game file, and at regular intervals, one player’s progress will be stymied, at which point the other player needs to send them an object to get them unstuck (this is accomplished via a keyword system – when the donating player manages to hand off an object, they’re given a three letter code, which when entered in by the other player creates the object in their version of the game). Clues and hints can also apply to the other player, requiring a near-constant thread of conversation to make sure everybody knows what’s happening.

None of the puzzles are especially novel, but they’re well-designed, largely hitting that sweet spot of difficulty between too hard and too easy; it doesn’t take too long to solve them, but you’ll feel satisfied when you do. They’re also relatively straightforward, which makes the burden of keeping the other player in the loop feel quite manageable (imagine having to narrate to another player how you solved a puzzle in Hadean Lands!) Its hour-long playtime is also just right, giving the game enough time to show off a few variations of its mechanics without overstaying its welcome, while the writing is as engaging and polished as you’d expect from an Amanda Walker game (which is to say, very much so on both fronts).

So this is a good proof-of-concept for this new kind of game – it works, it’s fun! I did have a few small niggles, but nothing really worth bringing up except in a parenthetical (here goes: I found one place where an object’s description didn’t update after the game’s state changes, and I found the introductory note saying of my partner that my “job is to figure out how to communicate with them to escape” confusing, since I thought it meant that I had to find some in-game way to talk to my partner before I was allowed to do so, which isn’t the case).

There was an interesting feature of how I experienced the game that I think is worth sharing, since it could point to some fundamental tensions in this kind of design that might need to be addressed by other games that follow this path without as much benefit of novelty. And that is that often as I was playing, I wound up being more engaged by what my partner was up to than what was going on in my version of the game. Partially as a result, several times I thought I was stuck and had to wait for them to solve a puzzle to make more progress, when actually if I’d just spent two more minutes considering the clues on my side, I would have figured out a solution to something I’d assumed required assistance from my partner.

This isn’t too surprising, I suppose – since one’s partner is an actual person, engaging with them is fun and interactive in a way that just playing a parser game can’t really compete with (it also typically feels way easier to solve other people’s problems than one’s own, of course). Plus, while I could poke around in my version of the game at my leisure, without access to my partner’s version, I was hanging on their every word to try to get a sense of what they could see and how to solve their puzzles, which of course required more active engagement and imagining on my part. And I think I had some FOMO, too – for a puzzle game, the puzzles are the game, so not being able to see or participate in half the puzzles would have felt like missing a big chunk of the game. As a result, I couldn’t help but wonder whether I would have enjoyed the game as much if it’d been a single-player game I was playing along with a friend – wouldn’t that have all the same advantages of collaboration and social engagement, while avoiding some of the challenges that two-player model requires?

I don’t think that’s exactly right, and even if it were, I haven’t actually played any IF with a friend in this way, so “two players required” tag does accomplish something. Still, I do think that future games in this vein – and I hope there are more – might benefit from thinking about ways to introduce asymmetries, or incomplete information, or other mechanics that might keep the player primarily engaged in their half of the game, rather than seeing themselves as part of a collaborative Voltron working on everything simultaneously (escape rooms of course do this through the imposition of draconian time limits, but that’s probably not the way to go here!) But again, this is pretty advanced speculation that’s not responding to any weakness in the Purple Pearl; it’s a pioneering work and has proved its concept so thoroughly that I can’t help thinking about what comes next.

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The Purple Pearl on IFDB

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