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Part of fractured fairy tales

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Number of Reviews: 23
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Incredible atmosphere and storytelling, December 5, 2020
by Wynter (London, UK)

I had played and enjoyed text adventure games before *Bronze*, but this was the first that I truly loved.

Based on the fairytale of Beauty and the Beast (not one I am very familiar with), this game is long enough to keep you busy for a while, with puzzles which are neither too simple nor infuriatingly difficult. But its greatest strengths are the atmosphere that it evokes, through the description of the castle and the objects in it - rich and Gothic, sometimes macabre - and the incredible storytelling: not just in the present day, but a whole history which leaves its traces in the castle, and which can be pieced together through paintings, objects, rooms and books. *Bronze* reminded me somewhat of Angela Carter's book *The Bloody Chamber*, a collection of modern retellings of fairytales with a dark but beautifully-described atmosphere.

An illuminating post on Short's blog explained how the story developed, leading to its various endings (CONTAINS SPOILERS: - I never succeeded in finding one of these.

The 'go to' function is very much appreciated, and there is a tutorial mode for new players of IF. But the atmosphere and storytelling should appeal to players at all levels.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Another home run from Emily Short, October 5, 2020
by bradleyswissman (Virginia, US)

Emily Short does more than justice to the medium of interactive fiction and lives up to her reputation as one of the best IF authors in this relatively short IF. In Bronze, Emily takes a fairytale well-known to western audiences and refines it, building up layers and layers of storytelling, worldbuilding, and fantasy. We are all familiar with the story of Beauty and the Beast, but Short spurns the Disney retelling and takes us down darker, more fanciful paths. Short has set up this story as part map, part puzzle - objects that you interact with unlock different parts of the map and progress the quest, which is (Spoiler - click to show)to solve the mystery of the Beast and his enchanted servants.

Of particular note are Short's masterful descriptive map skills. Even though Short ends up building a relatively large (55-room) map, you never got lost, partially thanks to the easy-to-follow descriptions as well as the in-game compass and "go to" commands. She populates each room with just enough to keep you interested and engaged without overwhelming the reader, which is an extremely difficult thing to balance. The "go to" command is particularly helpful late in the game, and maintains the pace steadily without getting bogged down with a fully-explored map. That pacing is another mark of a master IF storyteller - too often I play a game that expands its playable area too much and feels more like a chore than a leisure activity.

Even though Bronze is simply a fractured fairytale, it endures as one of my favorite IF for its ease of play and its rewarding lightbulb moments. It never feels patronizingly easy or frustratingly difficult, and it is fully playable in a few hundred turns. That, to me, is a winner. All of my kudos to Emily Short!

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Points for best NPC: The Castle, April 30, 2020
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: Fantasy

In this retelling of the classic, wellknown fairy-tale, you play Beauty. However, you (the player) are not Beauty. Through memories triggered by various rooms, objects, pieces of furniture, it's clear that she has lived a life of her own, in this castle with its Lord, and outside it in her village.

She does not find Beast after coming home from a visit to her family, so she has to search the entire Castle.

And this is where the game shines. This Castle is so detailed, so well implemented and so vividly described, I felt like I was looking over Beauty's shoulder every step of her search. Your discovery of the different wings and rooms of this Castle is paced to perfection. The various puzzles hold you long enough to get accustomed to a certain part of the setting, until you find the solution and another part opens up. This has the effect that in the end, I felt like I had experienced much more space than is actually in the map.

For other of the many qualities of this game, I direct you to other reviews. The Castle was what I wanted to highlight most.

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
IF to remember, February 25, 2020

I'll remember this game for a long time. An enchanting twist to the well-known story that leaves you reminiscing about the couple when you finish. Full of fun puzzles and friendly to newbies.

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A mid-length retelling of Beauty and the Beast with musical magic, May 27, 2019

This mid-length game is a story-focused Zorkian type game, where you explore the Beast's castle, trying to understand his history and take action.

The game features a magical system focused on (Spoiler - click to show)bells. Different bells have different properties, which you must decipher by experimentation and by searching records.

The game is a more cynical version of the fairy tale (or more world-weary).

This game is intended to be accesible to beginners, with a tutorial mode and ways to access hints. I found the game frustrating when I tried to treat it as an open, nonlinear game. When I did what the game told me to do, it was much more enjoyable.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Perfect Introduction To IF, March 18, 2017

In my opinion, this game is perfect. Based on my limited experience with IF, I'd say this game definitely succeeds at introducing beginners to the "traditional" exploration and puzzle IF genre.

The map is sizable enough to keep the player curious but not so expansive as to overwhelm. The teleportation-style navigation feature keeps the beginner from getting bored with the "legwork" of bringing items to and fro to complete tasks and the "think about" hint feature doesn't let the player stay lost long enough to give up.

Having only played the game through once (so far) I don't have experience with the multiple possible endings, but after finishing the game I did skim the "making of" page on the author's site (which is full of spoilers), and I gained an increased respect for the amount of thought that went into the complete and polished game that I played.

I recommend this game especially to beginners, but if you're a veteran player of IF and you haven't played this game yet, give it a try.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A great story for beginners, February 5, 2017

Bronze is a great starting place for those getting into IF. It has a generous hint system and puzzles that are just the right difficulty (for me, anyway!). Though it has some parallels to Beauty and the Beast, it is it's own story and not romantic, if that's a concern. I would recommend printing a map or drawing a map to keep track of all of the locations. I didn't visit all of the possible rooms (the ones unlabeled on the PDF map), so I assume there is an alternate, perhaps more favorable, path. Next, I plan on having my middle school students work through this story as an intro to IF!

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting interpretation of beauty and the beast, February 18, 2016
by Solana (Hong Kong)

Bronze is my first IF game and I think as a complete newbie to IF Bronze is really easy to handle and provides really good instructions/hints to guide me throughout the game. I really like the spooky environment and as the game go on the creepiness got yet not too much to scare me off.

I did not have a high expectation of the game however and I don't think it's that much of a surprise either, maybe because there's too many remakes of Beauty and the Beast already that it's pretty much guessable of what will happen.

Another thing I don't really fancy is the number of rooms it has. There's just way too many rooms and while it's useful in the sense to allow me to get the feel of the game and how to move around, there are many rooms that are just not needed and the huge amount of rooms confuses me a lot especially in the end when I want to get back to a specific room which its name is too complicated to remember and I must search through a big paragraph of rooms I've went through in order to find the name of that specific annoying room. I do think adding a few rooms without big purpose is fine as that's what tends to happen in the real world as well and adds to the challenge, but this is just way, way, way too much useless rooms.

The names are also very confusing.

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Nearly perfect introduction to IF for brand-new beginners, November 19, 2015

This was one of the first IF games I ever played, and after playing several others I was impressed with the implementation of the hint system in this delightful game. I say it was 'nearly perfect' because I feel it was a little too hard for me in the second half even with the generated hints (which occasionally didn't actually make sense to the problem at hand) and I had to resort to the walkthrough that the author posted. Thanks for posting a walkthrough! I loved the writing and I was happy to hear the end of the story even if I ultimately had to admit defeat to the puzzles.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Finely crafted recounting of a well-known fairytale, January 19, 2015

You are Beauty in this retelling of the classic story. Something is amiss in the Beast's castle when you return after an absence, and your actions on exploring the castle (and discovering it as player of course) lead to a potential resolution of the Beast's condition.

The game is extremely well crafted. The writing is relatively sparse yet evocative. The puzzles are clearly set up, with logical and mostly satisfying solutions. While some solutions seemed more straightforward than others, in all cases they were "fair": none of the elements necessary for the answer were hidden. The "goto" command was convenient (although the punctuation did occasionally seem to go awry when moving through the castle) and the "think about" hint system was intellectually pleasing, tapping in to the narrator's thoughts to become hints.

In the end, however, I have to agree with other reviewers that I felt somewhat let down by the final resolution of the story. The mechanics of the retelling of the story are cleverly thought out and satisfying (Spoiler - click to show)(summoning via bells, contracts), but my investment in the outcome was not repaid by its emotional impact. This is of course a personal reaction. I found the ending of the author's Mask of Pytho much more satisfying - maybe I'm an incurable romantic although that's not how I normally think I approach IF.

Access to the source code is a nice touch. The author clearly likes bells and I enjoyed her work here. Recommended.

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