A Murder in Fairyland

by Abigail Corfman

Fantasy Mystery
2020

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Is it actually possible to get the correct murderer?, November 29, 2020
by autumnc
Related reviews: ifcomp 2020

I've played and enjoyed the author's previous games, so I was really looking forward to this one. "A Murder in Fairyland" shares their quality writing and design, but it doesn't feel like a complete experience.

Compared to 16 Ways and Open Sorcery, the world of this game feels much more surreal and less grounded. While it takes place in the same broader universe as Open Sorcery, there's very little in this game connecting it to our reality, unlike with Open Sorcery's characters. It takes place in a world with fairies and other magical creatures, with bizarre and inhuman rules and behaviors.

The one "human" aspect of the game is the main character's disability. It took me far too long to realize that they were using a wheelchair (I didn't recognize what "Roll North" was supposed to refer to). The protagonist is not able to climb stairs or open some doors without waiting for help, and there are some references to the fairy-world equivalent of the ADA (also called the ADA), and a subplot involves going through a mind-boggling bureaucratic process to file an ADA complaint.

This is a heavily puzzle-oriented game. The puzzles range from word finds to riddles to filling out forms correctly, to more broad interaction and item finding. I loved the form-finding and filling puzzles, even if they weren't technically necessary to finishing the game. Finding forms involves figuring out a code based on a convoluted but ultimately logical set of rules. Filling out the forms required gathering more information from different areas, and was a good way of characterizing the world. The magic was also interesting, but did not have much use when it came to the actual murder mystery.

There is also a minigame, very vaguely like poker but with the cards being tarot major arcana, where the rules are unknown. It was interesting to try to figure it out. Although maybe the game is something that already exists.

The resolution of the murder mystery was rather frustrating: (Spoiler - click to show)I was a bit frustrated because I thought I knew who the murderer was, but they were not an available option, even after seemingly exhausting all possibilities throughout the game world. Thus, I started looking through the code. It appears that there is a lot of content that is written but might not be accessible, including several characters and a way to reveal the true murderer. I'm not very familiar with twine code so I might be wrong? Maybe I just didn't explore thoroughly enough?

Edit: Here is a brief guide to getting the correct ending, after reaching the mystery: (Spoiler - click to show)I needed to get form 536W for the weather report to get snowflakes diagrams, and give it to Lirana, so she's distracted and then I can take the autocsi scroll. Then I gathered the poison sample and did autocsi on the corpse, and then used form 533P to get the poison analysis (this required getting the moon phase with form 104M; I guessed the ley lines but there's probably a form for that). To rule out Rinecoat, I talked to him, examined the weapons, and got dust from Veinseeker. To rule out Lirana, I got the neutrality contract by filling out form 227H and talking to the crystal ball in the library. To rule out Nyx, I used the Flier: Noon-Sun Ceremony (was this the random conversation hint?). To confirm that it is Xylia, I looked at the corpse after using autocsi, and took the thread.


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qirien, October 27, 2020 - Reply
Yeah, I had the same experience, eventually I looked at the source code to get a few hints! I know it was supposed to feel annoying to fill out the forms correctly, but it was a little too annoying - (Spoiler - click to show)ley lines and moon phases, I'm looking at you. A non-spoilery hint would be that if you want something, there's probably a form to help you get it! Also, there was (Spoiler - click to show)one random conversation between pixies that turned out to be crucial but at the time I didn't know it was important and you can't revisit it. Looking at the code, it looks like (Spoiler - click to show)sometimes someone accompanies you who gives you lots of hints. I'm not sure if that's after you play a few times, or if it's only if you play it as part of the author's upcoming OpenSorcery Sea++ game. It didn't feel like a "play multiple times to get the true ending" kind of game, so I just kept plugging along on my first playthrough trying to get it right.

I liked the magic spells, and wished there were more places to use them! I liked the word search puzzles and the tarot game - it reminded me of the REALLY old but awesome puzzle game Fool's Errand.
autumnc, October 28, 2020 - Reply
Okay, so I've just played this game again, and finally figured it out (this is a guide I guess): (Spoiler - click to show)I needed to get form 536W for the weather report to get snowflakes diagrams, and give it to Lirana, so she's distracted and then I can take the autocsi scroll. Then I gathered the poison sample and did autocsi on the corpse, and then used form 533P to get the poison analysis (this required getting the moon phase with form 104M; I guessed the ley lines but there's probably a form for that). To rule out Rinecoat, I talked to him, examined the weapons, and got dust from Veinseeker. To rule out Lirana, I got the neutrality contract by filling out form 227H and talking to the crystal ball in the library. To rule out Nyx, I used the Flier: Noon-Sun Ceremony (was this the random conversation hint?). To confirm that it is Xylia, I looked at the corpse after using autocsi, and took the thread.

Wow, that was kind of complicated.
Spike, October 22, 2020 - Reply
Yes, it is possible to identify the correct murderer. I managed to do it, although it took me quite a while.
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