A Murder in Fairyland

by Abigail Corfman

Fantasy Mystery

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A complex wordplay-based cyber fairy game, October 6, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

Abigail Corfman has a very impressive Twine record with Open Sorcery (a popular quadratic-complexity puzzle-based commercial Twine game with upcoming sequel) and 16 Ways to Murder a Vampire at McDonalds (which is known for its complex puzzles).

So I was definitely looking forward to this one.

It wasn't quite what I expected. I thought at first it was child-oriented, but I'd rather say it's similar to fairy stories of the darker type (such as SCP-4000 or the poem The Goblin Market).

Gameplay is based on word puzzles. Initial gameplay has word-search puzzles. A long chunk of the game revolves around figuring out complex bureaucracy.

Most, if not all, of the puzzles are optional, as explained in the very brief walkthrough (which doesn't really spoil anything puzzle-wise, only offering ways around it).

I thought I was uninterested in the game at first, but then I found myself going out of my way to find more puzzles to try. In a way, it's almost like a Twine counterpart to Dibianca's Sage Sanctum Scramble, both a fantasy/sci-fi pastiche of wordplay.

I was progressing pretty nicely on the murder when I lost about 45 minutes of gameplay due to a random death with no undo possible (but restoring possible). I hadn't realized I needed to save that often, so it was a devastating blow to my will to go on. I used the walkthrough's cheats to progress to the ending, and found some satisfaction there.

Really not a fan of the random insta-death without undo (I'll admit there were some hints I was acting dangerously), but I liked the rest, so I don't know.

The protagonist is in a wheelchair, and it affects gameplay pretty much exactly how wheelchairs affect real life. I was married for 10 years to a woman who used a wheelchair full-time, and the game's emphasis on spotting out traversable paths, being stymied by a single stair step, and dealing with tedious bureaucracy to get accommodations is true to form.

There are also some personal details revealed through memories (whether of the author or of a created character), which were meaningful.

Overall, very nice experience, but make sure you save often!

++Polish and descriptiveness: Beautiful and lovely, smooth sailing.
+Interaction: My delight with the puzzles overwhelms my sadness about not saving.
+Emotional Impact: I felt intrigue.
+Would I play again? Yes, after the comp when I can dig in deeper.

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