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The Skeleton Key of Ambady

by Caelyn Sandel (as Adalai Trammels) profile


Web Site

(based on 8 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

I come through town every dozen years or so.

Strangers still seem strange, but
I've found work and welcome everywhere I've been.

I come and go as I please.
Don't waste your worry on me.

The Skeleton Key of Ambady was written for Nigel Jayne's Shufflecomp: Disc 2, inspired by the song 'Skeleton Key' by Dessa.

Game Details


Commended - ShuffleComp: Disc 2


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Number of Reviews: 2
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A folk tale-esque game of uncommon depth, May 17, 2017
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic

[Time to completion: 15-20 minutes; full content warnings given at the start of the game]

You are Adalai Trammels, Skeleton Key, and that means that you can unlock any safe, open any door... even intangible ones. It's a surprisingly nomadic job, and you carry naught but your key and the money you earn in exchange for your gift.

There is a surprising depth and breadth as to what you can do here. Sandel deftly creates a web of conflicts in the town that has no easy conclusion, no single villain. Every decision - including the decision to action or inaction - has consequences on the townsfolk: just because you can open any lock, doesn't mean you have to open all of them.

The Skeleton Key finds strength in its structure, borrowing the cadence of a folk tale or fairy tale. Like many fairy tales, the onus is on the hero to pass moral judgement on the villain, and the power of the interactive format is that we, the player, get to decide who we condemn and who we save.

This is a particularly strong example of Sandel's work, featuring distinctive settings and nuanced, sensitive characters; further examples of her work may be found here http://inurashii.xyz/games/.

Readers interested in the folk tale style but with a taste for horror may also enjoy A Good Wick, in which you play a lamp in a town shrouded in eternal night.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A short-to-mid length Twine game with a reputation system and many endings, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This Twine game centers on a woman with a special ability who visits a town. She has many choices regarding the use of this ability and the flow of her conversations, which results in a large number of endings.

The writing is well thought-out and supplemented by several graphics, but it never really drew me in. Therre is a content warning on the site about a graphic sex scene which is easy to avoid; there is a similar violent scene. I decided to check them out and regretted it immediately, skipping through quickly. Next time, I will listen to warnings.

I played through it twice to try some variations on the reputation system. As I said, I did not find the story compelling, but it was based on some song lyrics as part of a competition, and did well in bringing them to life.

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The Skeleton Key of Ambady on IFDB

Recommended Lists

The Skeleton Key of Ambady appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Best of 2015 (pre-IF Comp) by MathBrush
These are my favorite games that have been released this year so far. I'm sure I've missed some good ones. I'm also including some I haven't yet played. PLEASE comment if you think any other games belong on this list.


The following polls include votes for The Skeleton Key of Ambady:

For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible writing of 2015 by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
This is for suggesting games released in 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Writing in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here...

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