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Creatures Such As We

by Lynnea Glasser profile

Science Fiction
2014

Web Site

(based on 83 ratings)
7 reviews

About the Story

A dating sim about how humanity connects through art, even out in the vastness of space.


Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2014
Current Version: 1
License: Freeware
Development System: ChoiceScript
IFID: Unknown
TUID: 8l9cdcd1tbt77hfl

Awards

Winner, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2014 XYZZY Awards

2nd Place - 20th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2014)

41st Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2015 edition)

23rd Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2019 edition)

Editorial Reviews

The Guardian
...an incredibly engrossing tale of labour, life and loneliness in the future.
See the full review

Rock, Paper, Shotgun
S.EXE: Creatures Such As We
When Max Payne, the dark bullet-time Sam Spade-‘em-up game came out in 2001, I thought it possessed a most ingenious game meta-narrative moment. ... I am now twenty-nine and really difficult to please, but I can say confidently that Creatures Such As We is an elegant, intricate meta-narrative about player emotional investment and romancing non-player characters. Max Payne would do a Keanuface at it.
See the full review

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(39)
4 star:
(26)
3 star:
(15)
2 star:
(2)
1 star:
(2)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 7
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A convincing essay on game theory camouflaged as romantic CYOA, July 21, 2016

Having played through Mass Effect 3 again recently, I could not help but view "Creatures" as a commentary on that game, and in particular on the discussions revolving around its ending. I did not check if that is even possible, but in any case: "Creatures" covers a lot of game theory relevant to ME 3, like whether players or authors should decide a games ending, how romance should be portrayed in games, the meaning of self-sacrifice, whether games should mirror life or rather provide means of escape, etc.

This is all packed into a well paced story on the PCs moon adventure with the designers of their favorite game, including that game as game within the game.

So why is "Creatures" not five stars for me? I think it lacks a bit on the game side of things. Most choices I really had to think about concerned my opinion on the game theory questions mentioned above. The choices regarding the actual plot seemed a bit bland in comparison, even though the story itself is quite compelling.

That caveat aside, in my opinion anyone even remotely interested in game design (and romance!) should play "Creatures Such As We".


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Long choice based game about escapism, choice, and the moon, March 26, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

I've often pondered on my reasons for reading novels, playing IF, reading stories online, etc. I've talked to my family about it, and my answers to why we escape and whether it is good changes fairly often. I also was oncea professional video game developer.

This game, then, drew me in completely. This is a choice-based game about someone who is trying to understand escapism, its role in life, its benefits and drawbacks, the meaning of art, etc.

It was fun to play the character as myself, giving the answers and reactions I would. I was happy with my ending.

It was funny to play this game after Ultra Business Tycoon III,and reading online debates over whether that game is winnable, and what it would mean if it is not winnable. I don't necessarily recommend playing that game first (Porpentine has better games, like Howling Dogs), but it was interesting.

Lynnea Glasser tends to make very good games. I didn't like Tenth Plague on philosophical grounds, but Coloratura was fantastic.

This game contains several instances of strong profanity near the beginning.


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Meditation on games, art, the meaning of life, and lunar bases, January 18, 2023
by ccpost (Greensboro, North Carolina)

This game is richly multilayered, weaving together many different fascinating narrative and aesthetic threads, while remaining incredibly fun to play and engaging to read. Throughout a relatable story about a person struggling to find meaning while working a draining job, Glasser balances a romance plot, thought-provoking meditations on games as art, and a game within the game that the player interacts with along with the protagonist. These all work seamlessly together to prompt the player to reflect not only on this game but games more broadly and the various meanings they have in our lives: the social interactions and communities they foster, the aesthetic experiences they engender, the philosophical questions they raise, and the escape they provide.

The underlying story of the game is deceptively simple albeit with a scifi twist. You play as a tour guide on the moon, a well-paying but ultimately dead-end job, and you play games in your spare time. The designers of your favorite game happen to be the latest tour group, and it's up to you to smooth out some issues -- both major and minor -- that interrupt a potentially pivotal business retreat for the indie game studio. While the scifi elements are relatively subdued, the game posits a depressing -- but probably pretty likely -- scenario for the future of space travel: the moon will become a tourist resort for the wealthy. Some of the themes dealt with here remind me of Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars trilogy if on a smaller, more personal scale. Humanity's first inclination will be to pave paradise.

Integral to this main story are the threads mentioned above. The player character begins the game engrossed in the fictional game-within-the-game called Creatures Such as We, a scifi game of its own though more bombastic and action-packed. While I first found the sequences of applying the Choice of Games mechanics to choose my way through the fictional immersive 3D game played by the protagonist to be kind of detached, I got more and more into what Glasser was doing with these passages. These functioned almost like an autopsy of a game, using the choice-based game mechanic native to ChoiceScript to break down a 3D action game into discrete decisions. This has some weird effects with time, sometimes glossing over long stretches of playtime and other times allowing the player to linger over a decision that protagonist would need to make in a split-second.

In the interactions with the game designer tourists, the protagonist has the opportunity to engage in deep and wide-reaching conversations about game design and the aesthetics of games as art. Far from retreading worn out arguments about whether games should be considered as art or not, these sections of the game play out as interactive Socratic dialogues almost, with the interlocutors pushing you on your points and asking you to refine and clarify what you mean. While these decisions have essentially no stakes for the well-being of your characters, (Spoiler - click to show)in stark contrast to the nail-biting sequence at the end of the game in which the protagonist has to safely guide the tourists through an emergency evacuation of the base, I actually found these decision-points to be the ones I pondered and sweated over the most! These conversations really forced me to examine some of my own positions and beliefs on deep questions about why we play games and what they mean in our lives.

Finally, the player can choose to pursue a romance with one of the designers, the choices made in this most game-like aspect of the game for the real player immediately resonating with the philosophical discussions you have with the fictional game designers. I do not know the extent of possible outcomes with the romance aspect of Creatures(Spoiler - click to show) (in my playthrough romancing Diana, we shared mutual affection but also mutual recognition that the romance wouldn't come to anything as she left the moon base), but the romance seems designed to further the character development of the player character, providing prompts for self-reflection about what they're doing with their life and what life decisions they should make next. The game we're all playing...

The end I arrived at (Spoiler - click to show), on the moonbase, playing an updated version of Creatures online with Diana, was especially illuminating of the social role that games play in our lives, and did so in a genuine, moving way that somehow wasn't corny: we can be separated by countless miles but still connect over a great game.


See All 7 Member Reviews

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For Your Consideration: Games from 2014 that should be nominated for the XYZZY Awards by Molly
There were a lot of great games released in the past year, and now that the XYZZYs are coming up, it seems like a very good idea to take a poll of all the games from last year people would like to see nominated. The management has asked...

Romance Games by Molly
In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm looking for games that deal with romance and relationships.

Best cover art by MathBrush
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This is version 13 of this page, edited by Dan Fabulich on 5 January 2022 at 12:47am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item