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The Dark Side of Kabbalah, March 26, 2018
I truely enjoyed this game (about three hours play, using hints now and then).
Denfinitely, an unsual work of IF. The atmosphere is dark and feverish, the plot explores the dark side of Kabbalah. Thrown into the main character's shoes, you'll be playing this adventure through the eyes of Jack Pudlo, a young jewish boy whose precarious health turned him into a cynical misanthrope. It's very well written, every part of the text reinforces the main character's mental state and his (sick) relation to the surrounding world.
The map is not huge, but in order to explore it in full you'll need to unravel many puzzles. The game is claustrophobic, crude and profane; reality is constantly blurred by a mixture of Jack's paranoia and hallucinations, on the one hand, and occult manifestations and magic, on the other. This is as much as I can say without spoiling gameplay.
The implementation is smooth, and I've only stumbled in a single disambiguation problem during the whole game. There are no "guess the verb" situations and commands parsing is implemented rather mercifully; smart implicit actions replace tedious commands sequences, sparing the player endless typing when it's obvious what he has in mind. The commands set in not huge, and non standard commands are either obvious or hinted at in the text. I advise you try out any action that comes to your mind, for the atmosphere of the game will push you in directions that are worthy to explore (especially the dark side of Jack), even when these actions might not have a direct impact on the story course.
Jack Pudlo reminded me of Francis Orme, the main character of Edward Carey's Observatory Mansions, who's own narrative (like Jack's) is distorted by his own personality and selfishness, and chronic disease becomes an excuse to moral superiority and misanthropy.
The story ending is quite unexpected, and I still can't decide what to make of it. The ABOUT text is very strange indeed, and I'm left with the impression that it contains clues to decode further layers of narrative meanings — for example, the theme of "war" is mentioned in the ABOUT, and constantly leaks into the story background, from the distant sounds of the outside world, growing in intensity as the story approaches its end, but it's never explored or directly connected to the plot. Kabbalah being a central theme (and device) to the story, I suspect that there is more to the plot than meets the eye at first sight.