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Story File
Post-comp release, Version 2.
Requires a Glulx interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
Source text
Source text for version 2. Available under Creative Commons Attribution Only license.
Story File
Competition version
Requires a Glulx interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
A walkthrough by the author. Includes several levels of hints.

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Color the Truth

by mathbrush profile


(based on 72 ratings)
8 reviews

About the Story

Rosalita Morales is dead, and you have to figure out who did it. The four people closest to her had the motive and the means: her partner, her secretary, her ex-husband, and her sister. Re-live their memories of Rosalita's last days to discover what really happened. But be careful: Everyone has something to hide, and everyone will Color the Truth.

Color the Truth is conversation-based murder mystery game that takes roughly 2 hours to finish. It is designed to be accessible to players who have never tried parser games, and comes with adaptive hints accessible by typing HINT.

Game Details


Nominee, Best NPCs - 2016 XYZZY Awards

2nd Place - 22nd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2016)


This post-comp release fixes about a dozen of the worst typos and a few bugs (thanks for the transcripts!).

The source code is available for use under Creative Commons Attribution (BY) license.
Reported by MathBrush | History | Edit | Delete
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Editorial Reviews

Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Games of Mystery and Discovery from IF Comp 2016
Color the Truth invites the player to investigate a murder by (as typical for IF) examining various environments and also (less typically) by interviewing various characters. When a character gives you a statement, you play through a sequence as that character, getting to see the environment and suspects from their perspective... By the time the game is over, you’ll have played through the events of the murder multiple times from the perspectives of each of the major characters. It’s a pretty effective way of letting the player pull together evidence and conflicting information.
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Giant Bomb
IFComp 2016: Five Authors and Six Games
While it features puzzles, it relies on a specific puzzle mechanic. Detective stories have been used a lot in adventure gaming and IF, but Color the Truth gets a lot of mileage by keeping the focus tight: It’s a game about interrogation. You take statements from witnesses, ask them questions, and try to catch them in contradictions that gradually unveil what really happened.

The appeal here is definitely in the satisfying conversation mechanics, but it’s elevated by some details in the execution.
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The Stack
Thus, the Topic Inventory and the the Interactive Flashback dovetail, one providing the means of pointing out contradictions, the other providing the results. It’s quite neat.

Maybe a little too neat. The story itself feels a little bloodless to me, with a player character who’s as uninvolved in events as the player, and nothing happening once the investigation starts other than the investigation. But perhaps I’m only saying this because is contrasts with another piece I’ve written up recently.
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Doug's World
Parser Fiction is Not Dead Yet!
A good mystery is one of the most difficult forms of genre fiction to write, because they involve so many plot twists. The author must weave together lies and truth and peel them back in a sequence which allows the reader to solve the mystery at precisely the same moment as the protagonist. "Color the Truth" achieves exactly that. This is as good as any IF mystery I've ever played.
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Breakfast Reviews
On the whole, the game is well-crafted and solidly designed. I like the innovations in the gameplay and, as I've said before, I like that it's a mystery game. It feels compact and self-sufficient, like a sort of breakfast sandwich. Everything in a single, handy package. There's meat and there's egg and there's cheese. Maybe it's lacking a bit of sauce, but it leaves you wanting more even though you're technically full now and shouldn't have another one. And to finish, a small chai latte: just a little special and trendy, but it's tasty and it does the job as well as any workhorse coffee you could name.
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Divagations-Le blog de Monsieur Bouc
Une bonne FI au final, avec une vraie fraîcheur en ce qui concerne le système de dialogues et les puzzles associés. L’idée d’associer des sujets est vraiment sympathique, mobilisant une vraie réflexion depuis l’intérieur du monde. Le reste (scénario, décor, style) est classique, ce qui est loin d’être gênant.
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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 8
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Crime investigation as it should be, October 22, 2016

It's an interesting question, whether playing and reviewing probably hundreds of IF games improves your skill as an IF writer. With Mr Rush that seems to be the case, at least judging from "Color the Truth".

"Color the Truth" is a detective adventure, in which you collect the statements of suspects in order to find hints, or rather topics, as they are called here. Topics represent a specific aspect of a suspect's statement, and sometimes this aspect is in contradiction to a topic from another person's statement. Then you can link the two contradicting topics in order to get a new one, that in turn will prompt a new statement, until you finally discover the truth.

So far so good, but the knack in this mechanic is that each statement is a mini adventure, played from the viewpoint of the interrogated suspect. You get to play through each of these minis several times, each time revised in the light of the new topic you raised.

This all works very well, and analysing and combining the hints and playing the resulting new statement is a lot of fun, as it conveys a sense of steady progress in revealing the mystery, and also because the writing is on point.

I have to say I was a tiny bit disappointed of not being able to play out the murder itself in a statement (I like creepy adventures), but probably that would not have fit the tone. My only other caveat is that the case at hand is rather simple and therefore has only few surprises. Maybe Mr Rush or someone else uses the mechanic for a more involved case in the future. I would certainly play that!

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Fun, unique gameplay with a great detective feel, January 29, 2017

I had a lot of fun with this game. The topic-linking mechanic did a great job of having the gameplay feel like being a tv-show detective, rather than someone who happens to solve a case by solving text-adventure puzzles. It gave the game a unique feel that I highly enjoyed, and the characters and descriptions definitely contributed to that feel. All in all, it felt very well-polished.

In the end, it seemed like this game had cool mechanics but wasn't necessarily maximally suited for a parser game. (Spoiler - click to show)In the present, really all you did was decide who to talk to, which topic to bring up, or what to link. The flashbacks were mostly fake interactivity and while it was cool to see the same places from different perspectives, it got old to repeat the unchanged parts of a flashback. I would've enjoyed a few more layers with less-obvious linkages. Also, I was disappointed that the color-based perspective didn't really end up being relevant to anything.

That said, I enjoyed this game and its link mechanic a lot, and look forward to future games by this author.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting mechanics, February 13, 2023

This is a fresh take on a detective mystery, where the player has to link and corroborate suspects' statements to trigger new insights or findings.

The in-game hints are adequate (no walkthrough needed), although I came across one hint that sounded somewhat harsh: (Spoiler - click to show)"Just type [COMMAND]", although there was nothing in the narrative that mentioned about that specific command involving a certain object (the object wasn't mentioned in the narrative either), and this was only at the second hint attempt on the same topic. The subsequent re-played flashbacks could do away with the initial required activities; having to repeat the same actions felt unnecessary.

Otherwise, the plot was well thought-out and sufficiently complex, without requiring too long a gameplay. A good game to wind down after a busy day.

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See All 8 Member Reviews

Color the Truth on IFDB

Recommended Lists

Color the Truth appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Detective and mystery games by MathBrush
These are games where you play a detective or someone else investigating a mystery. Most of them are realistic games which I am splitting off of my realistic list. Some are more magical or science fi-ish.

Murder Mysteries by Walter Sandsquish
Text-adventure games ask players to solve puzzles, so asking them to also solve a murder mystery is quite common. Figure out who-done-it in the following games.

Doug's Top Ten of IF Comp 2016 by Doug Orleans
I played all but one of the 58 entries in IF Comp 2016 (I couldn't play Labyrinth of Loci because I don't have access to Windows or Mac OS). These were the top ten games on my ballot. Note that I rate games on slightly different criteria...

See all lists mentioning this game


The following polls include votes for Color the Truth:

Multiple point-of-view characters by Joan
Interested in games where you swap between different characters' heads (whether at will or at specific points in the story), not games where a single main character possesses different bodies or games that play with different...

Games with Toys by IFforL2
I want to distinguish toys from three other IF game elements: Puzzles require the player to find a solution to a problem in the narrative. If she can't find a solution, she's stuck. Branching allows the player to steer the plot of the...

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Settings of 2016 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2016 which you think might be worth considering for Best setting in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here...

See all polls with votes for this game

This is version 9 of this page, edited by Zape on 27 January 2020 at 6:08pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page