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Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Puzzles - 2015 XYZZY Awards
Entrant overall; 1st Place, Overall; 1st Place, Best Writing; 1st Place, Best Story; 2nd Place, Best Puzzles; 1st Place, Best Use of Theme ("Sunrise"); 3rd Place, Best Technical - ParserComp 2015
These Heterogenous Tasks
This is writing, I should stress, which really understands the importance of rewarding the player. It’s a big deal for me if a passage of writing can make me grin – here it’s not so much a matter of razor-honed prose as it is of wittily deployed concept, with the prose itself mostly doing an understated job of letting that shine.
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Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling
ParserComp: Chlorophyll (and a digression about female characters)
I wouldn’t really have pointed out mother-daughter relationships as a Thing That Is Lacking before playing Chlorophyll, but when I encountered it here, I found it refreshing all out of proportion with what actually happens in this game — which is a pretty good sign of an unsatisfied longing.
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Number of Reviews: 6
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Chlorophyll is a well designed game reminiscent of Stationfall (shorter, fewer balloon animals) in which the protagonist explores an abandoned space station in an attempt to restore power (Spoiler - click to show)and save your mom. There is a "food" requirement (significantly less annoying than in Stationfall) and Floyd has been replaced by a robot plant, but the eerie-wonderful feeling of wandering through an empty building doesn't fail to deliver.
However this game's true strength lies in the subtle revelation of the intricacies of the plant folk and the amusing parallels to our own world. No expository text dumps; you learn about the world room by room in the description of items, books left lying around, and the thoughts of the protagonist. The puzzles are not difficult and are mostly vehicles for delivering details about the clever parallel world of sentient mobile plantfolk.
Where Stationfall suffered greatly from "guess-the-verb" and "find this tool to put in this slot" the puzzles in Chlorophyll are a joy to perform. They are generally easy to figure out but not lacking in the pleasure of a subtle Eureka moment. The basic premise of returning power to the station is not a series of grumbling repetitive chores, but rather a series of playful experiments, especially (Spoiler - click to show)seeing how many illegal activities you can perform.
There are a few red herrings that are simply for your own amusement, (such as (Spoiler - click to show)going to the barber shop) but the plot elements are so seamlessly and naturally resting amongst the idle amusements of the mall that you cannot right away tell which are for fun and which are for the solution. As a result, it's all fun. You are encouraged to play with everything, explore, and basically, be a kid wandering through an abandoned mall.
Chlorophyll is just the right length, not long enough to draw a map (like Stationfall) but long enough to satisfy. Very well written with a great background story, and a likable protagonist, with intuitive, easy yet satisfying puzzles reminiscent of Infocom (without all the diabolical stuff.) Lots of fun, good for a beginner or someone who wants to recall the Infocom style without spending a week on a game.
You can expect a gameplay of about three to four hours to complete the whole story.
The adventure setting is remarkable and it's clear that the author has put great efforts into worldbuilding details. Without giving away too much about the game, you can guess from its title and cover that the protagonist is a teenager plant-creature; so you'll be both experiencing the story with the eyes of a young NPC as well as another species. This adds depth to the game because just about everything you'll come across is seen from the odd perspective of a universe where the main life forms are plant-like versions of our race.
I've felt like I was living through a fairy tale, but more on the SciFi end of narrative. Right from the onset you become aware of your main goal, the rest of the game is about working out how to accomplish it. You'll be facing a middle sized (and symmetrical) map, with new locations becoming accessible as you accomplish tasks. Puzzles are meaningfully tied to the plot (not the usual out of context puzzle, stuffed in the game just for the sake of making it "IF-likish"), so there is a balance between things you know you have to do, but lack the know-how or resources to, and tasks that when solved reveal more about the steps ahead of you toward the goal.
Having said that, the plot is a bit stale as puzzles solutions don't really drive the story forward, they just bring the end closer. The author could have enriched the plot a bit more, providing a few story twists here and there. There are some hints along the path as to unexpected dangers that might lay ahead, but these scarcely bring a true plot twist when you finally encounter them, and they have a weak impact on the overall plot.
Nevertheless, it was a delightful adventure to play. Exploration was gratifying because every interaction revealed a little bit more about the unusual world of the game. The puzzles are not too difficult, but you need to study carefully the environment to work out a plan of action. There aren't many useluss distractions in the game, and overall if you can interact with something it's because it's meaningful to the story (there are a few expections). The game is well written and polished, but it could have done with a few synonims implemented here and there, and better disambiguation rules.
The overall pace is peacefully slow, and there is a sense of timelesness to the atmosphere. Toward the very end, the story suddenly accelerates, and the ending seemed a bit out of tune with the previous part, a bit too fast and abrupt.
This is one of those games that will leave a strong and lasting impression in me, and it's strong and cute imagery is not going to fade away easily from memory. Yes, it's a memorable game.
Chlorophyll felt like a commercial game to me. If Infocom had lived longer, I could see this as being one of their "Beginner" games (which were never very easy, as far as I can tell). It's well-polished, with a strong background story and lots of extra details.
It's a mid-length game set on a distant world. You play a young plant-woman with her plant-woman mother. You must explore a base while also coming to grips with your own coming adulthood and independence.
At times, I stopped playing Chlorophyll for a few weeks because the game seemed too open without much direction, and I felt overwhelmed. As I pressed through, though, I found that you were guided pretty well, and I found the last three areas enjoyable.
The only other sticking point was the long intro where you can't do very much. It made it annoying to restart. Other than that, this is one of the best 'recent' games.
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