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About the Story
"Firebird is based on the Old Russian folk tales that inspired the Stravinsky piece of the same name. You are Prince Ivan, and have been charged by your father, the tsar, to find the Firebird that has been stealing your father's golden apples. Your two older brothers have already tried and failed -- can you triumph over the many obstacles in your quest? Remember, your mission is not as simple as it first seems..."
A pleasant game, made of various bits of Russian folk tales, plus extraneous elements added for humorous effect. You play Prince Ivan, the youngest of three brothers and the last to be sent in search of the firebird that's been stealing your father's golden apples. Lots of threefold repetitions and other fairy-tale motifs. Easy puzzles, a few lengthy noninteractive scenes, and something like a maze (but mappable on a grid). Consistently amusing, with lots of exaggeration (including some exaggerated violence). A joy to play. Beginners will probably like this one.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
What's Big and Bright and Covered in Feathers?
Firebird does an admirable job following the conventions and style of faerie tales... characters are princes and princesses or tsars and tsarina's in disguise, buildings are made of silver, gold, or the appropriate sparkly material of choice, and events tend to fall in threes, creating a nice playing rhythm with the repetitions. For the most part these repetitions help rather than hinder the flow of the game. (Charon)
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Reviews from Duncan Stevens and Paul O'Brian
Stevens: "If Firebird encouraged more research into backgrounds of games, and more innovative settings, it might lead to more creative games, never a bad thing. In its own right, it's a worthy effort."
O'Brian: "Firebird proves beyond a doubt that the intersection between folk tale and IF is a fertile one."
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Based on Russian folklore this game has a decent storyline, relatively simple puzzles and a fairytale ending. [...] Although, even my limited knowledge of Russian folklore told me that a few of the humour elements contained therein weren't quite authentic, eg. the chefs, which made me smile and so probably achieved their purpose (unless I'm missing something of course). (Nick Edmunds)
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Number of Reviews: 6
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This game is one of the first "modern" IF games that I played (probably my first download after playing Adventure), and the story has stuck with me through the years; although I couldn't remember all the details prior to this evening's replaying, I knew there was a part with a certain cute semiaquatic carnivorous mammal coming up which I liked.
The game cleverly allows several different endings, and it is a joy to go back through the game and retry all of them. The puzzles, though challenging, are not impossible. Unfamiliar with the Russian rhymes mentioned in another user's review, but quite familiar with Soviet cinema, I giggled at Montgomery's off-handed mention of the "irony of fate," surely a reference to the title of the 1975 classic comedy (which I have begun insisting that we watch in my home every New Years; Andrei Myagkov is my soul).
My major quibble with the game is that it needs a few more details - for example, descriptions of exits are not consistently available, making parts of the game seem much more difficult than they really are: more than once, I circled an area, not realizing I just needed to go north. (That is not a spoiler.) Moreover, some items described in the body of the room description have no description of their own as a decoration. For example, a non-player character handles a garment, but when you try to interact with or examine the garment, the garment does not exist - "I don't know the word ____." These are minor details, but considering that (1) all descriptions are part of an already-rich and rewarding Firebird world, and (2) Montgomery's humorous descriptions and in-jokes are so accessible, cross-linguistic, and pleasantly ubiquitous, it is disappointing not to be able to dig down into the details to find extra easter-eggs.
Overall, however, I give it 4.5 stars out of 5 - I must round up to a full 5-star review, because even for these missing details, the game is incredibly full and rich, and there are details yet to be discovered. Also, Vasilii's NPC is a delight, and he earns an extra half-star on his own. In another 20 years, I will happily play this game again - indeed, most likely far sooner than that.
Firebird is a loose and at times decidedly anachronistic retelling of a Russian folktale. A few (more-or-less) well-known personages from Russian culture make an appearance, there is the common recurrence of groupings of three (three gradually harder obstacles, three gradually more difficult foes,...) Despite the superficial references to Russian culture, however, the PC is basically a standard "adventure-prince". The PC actually acknowledges his own role as he yearns for a simpler life of making his own sandwiches and eating them in the forest. Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to derail the game's narrative towards an alternative ending where your prince gets to do exactly that. (He could take advantage of his lone quest to just vanish and go live as a farmer...)
Depending on the player's choice in the finale, there are two proper endings. They are very black-and-white moral opposites. Much more impressive are the many ways to actually get to the finale. NPCs and puzzles can almost all be handled in multiple ways, there are several paths to a certain far-off part of the map, there is an in-game portal back to the begionning of the game should you have forgotten a necessary object. The game is so forgiving of "mistakes" that they stop being mistakes, just new opportunities to handle a problem.
The implementation is a bit on the shallow side, and the game is a bit heavy on the micro-management. Many actions require in-between steps that could have been handled automatically.
The puzzles are mostly easy and straightforward. (Just make sure you have a nice and full inventory at all times. No limits to what you can carry!) I had the most fun with the elaborate cutscenes and descriptions at crucial turning points in the narrative.
A great game for a lazy afternoon.
A curious mix of Russian folklore and American humor. Being a Russian, I was delighted to see familiar fairytale motives and phrases like "speedily a tale is spun, with much less speed a deed is done" (скоро сказка сказывается, да не скоро дело делается), "are you here to shirk a task or to find one?" (дела пытаешь аль от дела лытаешь?), "three times nine" (тридевять), etc.
The game is rather old-school - even for 1998. The world is sparingly implemented, there are some minor guess-the-verb moments - but it's funny and light-hearted, the puzzles aren't hard, there are multiple solutions (be sure to check the AMUSING section), and the "good" ending really has a na´ve fairytale charm (while the "evil" ending - the one where you (Spoiler - click to show)side with Katschei the Deathless - is, um...). There's a big maze in the game - but you won't need mapping it.
P. S. I was able to kiss almost everyone from the bear to Baba Yaga without anybody protesting. Well, I suppose being a prince has its benefits.
|Indigo, by Emily Short
Average member rating: (54 ratings)
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