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About the Story
By Eddie Hughes
* * *
Revisited by Ed Hughes
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 4
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This game is an antidote for those obsessed with personal histories and their ultimate meaning.
We first learn that this game was originally created in 1993 by a thirteen-year-old Eddie Hughes. It was rediscovered by a forty-year-old Ed Hughes in 2020, and the version we have includes his thoughtful commentary. Hughes has also helpfully provided us with maps of the game in the form of his old math notebook. And as we'll learn later, the game is a recreation of the old lake house and the time he and his good friend Richard spent at the lake.
As the player progresses through the game, the author seems to gain and lose interest in a work he was once obsessed with but now barely remembers. Hughes laughs and apologizes for his younger self's antics -- a fully realized house with descriptive rooms like More Halls is very funny -- but the player will almost immediately encounter oddities. They can't go to his sister's room -- in the maps provided, it's blotted out. (Spoiler - click to show)Why are we collecting memory shards? The more we traverse, the more personal this game becomes.
Itís very tempting to compare it to B.J. Bestís other old-IF-in-IF work, And Then You Come to a House Not Unlike the Previous One. Not only are they reminiscences of the past via interactive fiction but they relate to the relevance of the past and interactive fiction in our present. That work is, however, a coming-of-age relationship between two adolescents. We are playing the game with someone who is reflecting on his youth.
Instead, the game is more like Drew Cookís Repeat the Ending as both include fictional commentary and also look to the past for meaning. In Cook's game, we find an affirmation of interactive fiction as a mode of artistic expression. We leave that game emotional and hopeful for Cook's growth.
In Hughes's game, we find nothing.
What remains of LAKE ADVENTURE is an adventure game full of bad memories not worth revisiting. Hughes doesn't want to remember (Spoiler - click to show)how heartbroken he was over his sister's death from leukemia nor does he want to think about Richard's death after drifting apart for so long. But the past has caught up with him and won't let go.
The finale gives me dread, especially since it felt like I was roped into relive his trauma. I wonder what went through the minds of young and old Eddie. Why did they put me through this torment? I guess they just didn't know what they were getting into -- and that's the really terrifying thing about rediscovering memories: we don't know what's going to come out of it.
This game is my nightmare. It goes against my beliefs about the importance of memories and traumas in autobiographical works, but I cannot simply look away from it. I know I have to stare at its truth because it is after all naive to believe that uncovering and reliving memories is unconditionally good for you. It can harm you. It can compound your trauma. It makes you remember what you've rightfully forgotten. You become an empty shell, begging "ancient history" to fill you with something, but all you've really done is widen the hole in your heart.
LAKE ADVENTURE is a tragedy for Ed Hughes and people like me who seek comfort in introspection. We can only relive the past for so long before it hurts us in our most vulnerable. Only through forgetting some memories can we find real meaning in our personal histories.
Goes straight to the heart. In addition it is also a very good game which drew me in. Not sure if the memories were 100% true or partly fiction but they could all be true so in any case thanks for sharing.
It has a lot of things in common with Repeat The Ending. However, the game element/puzzles are more traditional and puzzly in LAKE Adventure. But their stories are both very impactful and sad.
Iím going to put on my Ďextra-criticalí goggles for this game, because itís by a previous IFComp winner (who presumably can stand up to sterner scrutiny), and is in a genre (autobiographical emotional retrospective in game form) that has had several recent start-studded entries (Sting, Repeat the Ending, A Rope of Chalk, and of course the authorís own game two years ago). It also intentionally uses an older format and is mimicking Ďmy crappy apartment/houseí games, which has to thread the needle between not being as bad as the source material and being accurate to source material.
So how does it succeed? Overall, the polish is evident. I rarely struggled with the parser, which (combined with the other AGT/AGX/MAGX game this year makes me respect the engine a lot). Teleportation and combat are handled well. Death and being reborn could theoretically have really messed up game state, but it doesnít seem to have done so, which is really impressive to me.
The game itself relies heavily on the commentary to make it Ďgoodí, which makes sense, because it was built that way. At first I was critical of the base game as being too basic, given the rich and full games Iíve seen built by children and teens recently (for comparison, look at Milliways in this IFComp!). But then I remembered games like Coming Home 1 which are actually very similar in layout and descriptiveness level to this game (although not in polish), so I guess it is pretty authentic.
Exploration was fun. Sometimes commands and interaction felt just a bit Ďoffí from games I usually play, and this was good; it felt like seeing interactive fiction written by someone who had a different set of experiences than me.
Iím not sure whether the game is autobiographical or not; I suspect not, but Iím not sure that should factor into the overall evaluation of the game. The background story is emotional, and hearing only one side of the conversation really helps here as you can imagine the other side for yourself, with version painting the narrator in a deeply sympathetic light or as a barely-tolerated person stretching othersí patience. One thing though for me is that it was always very clear that I was interacting with a fictional narrative, one held at a distance, and that I wasnít drawn into. This is a personal reaction and not necessarily one all would hold. Thatís actually what made me wonder if this was autobiographical, as real life scenarios are often less believable than fictional (like the fact that Tiffany is a medieval name).
The map is nice, and I wish I had read it first. I solved one puzzle it solves on accident due to my normal direction-flailing I typically do when playing games. It has some messages like ĎDonít Cheatí and ĎListnounsí that make me wonder if there is some hidden content in the game.
Overall, it was clear from the beginning that this has high production values and includes a lot of elements I like. So the debate wasnít whether to score high or low, but which high score to shoot for. Iím still thinking about it; in a way this game is more relatable to me than Bestís last game, but on the other hand itís a slighter thing. The ending, for instance, felt anticlimactic, more of an opportunity to sit and ponder than a neat wrapping up.
Iíll definitely be keeping an eye out for other reviews on this; I feel like there are still some unresolved thoughts in my mind and maybe a fresh perspective can help. But I did enjoy this, and it was easy to play this on Gargoyle.
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