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Ecdysis

by Peter Nepstad profile

Part of Commonplace Book Project
Horror/Lovecraftian
2007

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Reviews and Ratings

5 star:
(8)
4 star:
(34)
3 star:
(25)
2 star:
(4)
1 star:
(1)
Average Rating:
Number of Ratings: 72
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Umm... Okay, October 27, 2020
How can I sum up what I just played in the last 10 minutes? Hmm. Well, I clicked on a bunch of blue hyper-links in the text of a parser IF piece. I followed a protagonist I didn't know much about (Spoiler - click to show) quickly turning into a monster.

Putting myself in the author's shoes, it feels like some short stories I've pumped out just to keep the creative juices flowing. But ones that I ultimately never published or shared. It feels like it was done more for the creator than for the audience.

The biggest flaw is that the reader is supposed to instantly care about what happens to the main character, but I found no reason to. There was nothing to make me care about anyone in this story.

If this was the ending of a story where we had spent time building relationships with these characters it could have had a massive impact. That's my biggest issue with this game. Given more time and attention, this idea could have made a great finale, but instead it feels like it's over before it starts.

- Arrowhead12 (Edmonton, Alberta), September 18, 2020

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Short but potent, September 18, 2020
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: horror, parser-based, TADS
Ecdysis is a parser-based Lovecraftian horror game by Peter Nepstad, published in 2007. You're a man who wakes up at night to a pounding headache and weird visions. You get up and eat some pain medication, descend down the steps, feel strangely sweaty... and from there things only get more and more strange.

The game is very short - under 10 minutes long - so there isn't much else that can be said about it without spoilers. But in general, I think that the writing is descriptive and memorable, and the game definitely has a certain "shock" factor to it that makes it worth trying despite its brevity.

While the game world is rather linear and small, the implementation can get bizarrely detailed at times. The author gave the main character individual body parts like hands, feet, head, eyes and yes, even sweat, that have their own descriptions (Spoiler - click to show)that change as the adventure progresses because of... you know. There are also some non-standard verbs like "think" and an optional side quest where you put a blanket on one of the children. So, if you're the sort of player who likes searching for secrets and details in the game world, Ecdysis has some interesting things to find.

It should be noted that the game has a lot of glitches too, although to be fair, they don't hinder a regular playthrough at all. I guess you could think of them as just another "bonus feature" for the observant player. For instance, (Spoiler - click to show)you can make your own body parts fall off using the buggy "cover" verb. Try the command "cover me with eyes", for instance. A glitch like this suits the body horror aesthetic of the game surprisingly well, though.

Ecdysis is short and sweet. Well, maybe it's more sour and horrific than sweet, and its short length keeps it from being absolutely essential playing in my opinion, but it's an interesting title to try out if you have a bit of time and like parser-based horror.

- Edo, July 30, 2020

- ryd5185, March 30, 2020

- Bosch, May 8, 2019

- Mwe, December 3, 2018

- IFforL2 (Chiayi, Taiwan), July 19, 2017

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A reminder why I can't read Lovecraftian horror..., July 19, 2017
by Cory Roush (Ohio)
I still have chills.

Implementation: flawless. Prose: wonderful. Ending: fantastic.

5 stars, 10 out of 10, whew.

- NinaS, July 4, 2016

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Okay horror story, but never becomes greater than the sum of its parts, June 27, 2016
I had high hopes for Ecdysis: the title and cover are evocative, and I am a fan of both Lovecraftian and body horror, and have found other entries in the Lovecraft Commonplace Book Project extremely enjoyable.

In the end, though, it didn't live up to my expectations. It feels harsh saying that, because the game is not a failure by any means. The writing is above-average, doing a good job conveying pain, disorientation and dread, as well as the occasional glimpse of wonder. While it's short and linear, it's polished, putting in quite a bit of information that you might miss on your first playthrough. (For example, try examining the stars when you can see them.) While the NPCs never get any characterisation, the PC's love for them comes through. The core situation with the PC's stepchildren is one that is pretty rare in this type of story. It's all... good, rather than great.

Time for the downsides. Perhaps it's just that I've consumed a lot of horror, but I found it easy to guess from early on where the plot was going, and it didn't surprise me much.

The writing seems to aim for Lovecraft's style a bit too slavishly, without hitting the things I like about Lovecraft's writing. Also, there are a couple of vocabulary blunders: for example, "diaphanous light" in the bathroom. (I guess the writer might mean that the light is faint, as if the darkness is showing through it, but it looks like a plain misused word.) As I mentioned, the game is short, linear, and almost puzzleless. (I say "almost", since there's apparently an alternative ending I haven't been able to get.) That's fine for what it is, but a longer game with a bit more freedom might have had more impact.

Perhaps most damning for a horror game, I didn't find it scary. The situation at the outset is certainly unpleasant, but as I said, after a certain point I could see too clearly where the story was going, and the central scene where we realise what is going on felt a bit too pulpy, rather than cosmic.

Not a waste of time by any means, but not as memorable as I was hoping for. Still, if you're after a quick, very polished horror/SF read, check it out.

- E. W. B., February 23, 2016

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A game that crosses the line for me, but may not for others, February 3, 2016
I enjoy horror games quite a bit, but I like to stick to "white-hat" games, where you overcome evil or learn about yourself, and the final feeling is generally uplifting. This is not one of those games. While you can choose your actions, it is a lot like Vespers, where rushing along will lead you down a path that leaves you feeling uncomfortable and unhappy.

Otherwise, the game is well-made. I just can't recommend it to others; for a game with a similar feel and less squick, I recommend the Twine game Eidolon.

- namekuseijin (anywhere but home), January 12, 2016

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
I wish for more implementation, August 14, 2015
by Harry Coburn (Atlanta, GA)
The core premise of Ecdysis is sound. It is tight Lovecraftian horror. However, it needs more implementation throughout to flesh it out. Too little implementation makes a game feel like a railroad or a visual novel.

In fact, this type of tight fiction would be great in Twine, although the important verb in the game would be a little bit tricky to implement.

- CMG (NYC), July 23, 2015

- Taffer, May 23, 2015

- Thrax, March 12, 2015

Haunting and creepy, August 24, 2014

by Jason Lautzenheiser (Navarre, Ohio)
Under-implemented and not a lot going on, however the story is very creepy, one that sticks with you for a time. I love Lovecraft and like these little bite-sized portions games like this give you.

- Simon Deimel (Germany), February 4, 2014

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Tons of fun! (For those with perverse sensibilities), July 31, 2013
by Cody Gaisser (Inglewood, East Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way, Known Universe, ???)
This is a brief, but disturbing, Lovecraft pastiche. There are a couple of spots of weak implementation, but the solutions aren't too difficult to figure out (and walkthroughs exist). If a grotesque Lovecraftian hallucination sounds like your sort of interactive fiction, then not only should you play this immediately, but it's also probably worth taking the time to save your progress regularly and see what happens to the protagonist when you make him make bad decisions.

Other great Lovecraftian IF:
Anchorhead
The King of Shreds and Patches

- Artran (Prague, Czech Republic), July 26, 2013

- ButteredCatArray, July 3, 2013

- E.K., June 12, 2013

- tekket (Česk Lpa, Czech Republic), May 7, 2013


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