Download

Source Code
.tws file
This is a pseudo-format used to represent download adviser records that apply to multiple formats.

Have you played this game?

You can rate this game, record that you've played it, or put it on your wish list after you log in.

Playlists and Wishlists

RSS Feeds

New member reviews
Updates to downloadable files
All updates to this page

Solarium

by Anya Johanna DeNiro profile

2013

(based on 48 ratings)
6 member reviews

About the Story

The year is 1954. One year after mutually assured destruction. And I am trying to find you, through memory and alchemy. Not many people know how the nuclear devastation really happened. But we do.

We were part of Solarium.


Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: September 29, 2013
Current Version: Unknown
License: Freeware
Development System: Twine
IFID: Unknown
TUID: b6ljg2m07tmc2ffv

Awards

6th Place - 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2013)

Winner, Best Story - 2013 XYZZY Awards


News

Expand all | Add a news item

Editorial Reviews

Indie Statik
Itís a fascinating alternate fiction with bleak, existential themes.
See the full review

Rock Paper Shotgun
"Solarium...is one of the creepiest pieces of speculative fiction Iíve read, because within its framework of fantasy, alchemy, and interference from immortal spirits, it contains an element that is horrific-but-true: the story of Cold War hysteria and of how close we came to blowing ourselves up in the mid-20th century" -Emily Short
See the full review

Tags

- View the most common tags (What's a tag?)

(Log in to add your own tags)

Member Reviews

5 star:
(18)
4 star:
(15)
3 star:
(11)
2 star:
(1)
1 star:
(3)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 4
Write a review


Most Helpful Member Reviews


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Just an amazing work, December 13, 2020
by autumnc
Related reviews: favs

Solarium is one of my favorite pieces of interactive fiction, or any fiction really. It's another of those stories that I find myself returning to over and over. Every time I read it, I feel like I discover something new, another layer to the story or a reference I didn't understand. If anyone hasn't yet, you might want to play it for yourself without reading this review; my description won't do it justice.

Insofar that Solarium is primarily about any one thing, it's about the horrors of the Cold War. In their quest for supremacy over the Soviet Union, Americans turned to esotericism, with a magical archaeological discovery that promises to protect them from nuclear retaliation, thus breaking the game theory of Mutually Assured Destruction and allowing a first strike. Of course it doesn't work that way; actually they awakened an ancient evil that wanted to destroy the world. And it did. But that's just the surface; there's a lot more to the story.

Solarium is a hypertext story told nonlinearly and nonchronologically. It is a mystery story where the mystery is from the perspective of the reader, to find out what happened and why. There is a root node taking place "after mutually assured destruction" and many flashback segments (can I call them storylets?), each associated with a substance, unlocked by going through other flashbacks (which are treated as alchemical rituals). Through these flashbacks, the player discovers the history of the protagonist and their relation with the events that lead up to the nuclear apocalypse.

There are two endings decided by a final choice at the end. It makes sense; everything that comes before is flashback to prepare the player for this final decision. Spoiler description of the plot and ending: (Spoiler - click to show)The plot takes the cold war and moves it to cosmic dimensions. The protagonist is the reincarnation of an ancient godlike figure, and both his lover(?) Annalise and the Archon (the spirit contained inside the magical amulet) are also reincarnations, playing out an ancient cosmic drama between good and evil. Their bodies are no matter; the Archon takes over the president's body, and the protagonist is reincarnated as men and women, including a priest and a soldier. All of them are endlessly lonely through reincarnation, and the Archon tries to attract the attention of the Creator by acting up, by causing so much mayhem and evil that God is forced to notice him. Meanwhile Annalise is as pure good as possible; it's implied that she is the reincarnation of Jesus. The ending is with Annalise dying permanently, and the protagonist can either join her in death or keep on living. In the latter ending, eventually the protagonist finds the Archon's amulet again, because they're so lonely and need a companion.

The game is littered with a complex array of references, from literature to religion to real-life Cold War history complete with actual documents. Maybe it's only impressive to a relatively uncultured person like myself, but I thought it was incredible, and made me look up a lot of things on Wikipedia, like the real life Project Solarium, the use of LSD by the CIA, Gnostic religions, and the history of alchemy.

More generally, the writing is incredible (in my opinion). Every sentence just feels perfect. I don't know how to talk about it without gushing. The nonlinearity and gating are usually well thought out, and work to pace the story and control how and when the player accesses certain content. Most of it is pretty easy to navigate, but there were a few moments where I wasn't sure how to proceed. But it turns out that some storylets can or have to be repeated multiple times after getting new substances.


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Great supernatural, thoughtful fiction. Twine with haunting graphics., February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

Solarium gives Twine a good name. This well-crafted game is adult ficion, not as in sexuality, but as in dealing with thoughtful and meaningful concepts. It involves alchemy and an alternative ending to the cold war, decades ago.

The narrative has a branching structure, with each branch requiring a key in the form of an alchemical substance. By obtaining more substances, you unlock more areas.

The game includes several striking images, including scans of real government documents.

I strongly recommend this game.


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Solid text, November 18, 2013
by streever (America)

This is well-written and engrossing. A clickable twine text game, Solarium has an interesting alchemical system which is quickly grasped through exploration of the narrative. As you progress through different memories, you obtain new story paths, and part of the fun is in speculating which will lead you to which.

There was only one moment where I worried that the game may have a dead end, early on, when I had gone through what I thought were all my options in remembering the story through alchemical reagents. I quickly realized that I simply was missing one of the options, and hadn't realized it was clickable.

Well-written, engrossing, and with an interesting ambience, this game is a mystical take on the idea of a nuclear apocalypse. The action mostly takes place in one room, as your character relieves past experiences that contribute to your understanding of what led to the apocalypse, and the limited role you played. The denouement is satisfying, and leaves you with a real choice, shaped by your perception of the text you'd just read, instead of by your collection of macguffins and plot points.


See All 6 Member Reviews

If you enjoyed Solarium...

Related Games

People who like Solarium also gave high ratings to these games:

Machine of Death, by Hulk Handsome
Average member rating: (19 ratings)
In the near future, the world will be changed by a machine that predicts how a person will die with 100% accuracy... but not clarity. Would knowing your demise change the way you lived your life? A collection of three short interactive...

Leather Goddesses of Phobos, by Steve Meretzky
Average member rating: (60 ratings)
And now... the next exciting episode of humanoids in space! How did you, a regular at Joe's Bar in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, end up on a Martian moon? Can you prevent the hideous space creature from abducting the naked heiress? Why does...

With Those We Love Alive, by Porpentine and Brenda Neotenomie
Average member rating: (84 ratings)
no dreams written by porpentine scored by brenda neotenomie

Suggest a game

Recommended Lists

Solarium appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Historical Setting by Teaspoon
Some good games with a historical setting. Will be added to as I go along.

Annotated list of best sci-fi games by MathBrush
A few months ago, I thought, "There really aren't that many sci-fi IF games". Then I started going through old games I had played, and downlaoded TADS, and was shocked at how many great sci-fi games there are. This is a list of my...

2013 XYZZY Awards Nominees by Molly
Here are the nominees for the 2013 XYZZY Awards, roughly by order of appearance on the finalist page. Note that this list does not cover the Best Technological Development Award.

See all lists mentioning this game

Polls

The following polls include votes for Solarium:

Choice-Based Games with a Spoke and Hub Structure by J. J. Guest
After playing a couple of the Fabled Lands gamebooks, I noticed they use a Spoke and Hub structure. I'm interested in choice-based IF games which use a similar structure. Sam Kabo Ashwell's blog post "Standard Patterns in Choice-Based...

Looking for games that take place between the 50's and 60's by H. W. Wiliams
I'm interested in playing some great noir style games in any genre really.

Sublime Moments by Sam Kabo Ashwell
I've been thinking about games that provide really brilliant moments. This is not about the overall quality of the game: there are plenty of excellent games that never deliver a clear, standout moment of unalloyed excellence. And surely...

See all polls with votes for this game

Links




This is version 6 of this page, edited by Anya Johanna DeNiro on 22 September 2017 at 12:41pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item