Saint Simon's Saw

by Samuel Thomson


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A tool for introspection, December 2, 2020
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2020, Unity, experimental

Saint Simonís Saw is a program by Samuel Thomson, published in 2020. Iím not sure if you can call it a game, as it doesnít have a conventional goal or a real win state - I would say itís closer to a tool or a toy.

Youíre supposed to think about a problem you have, then pick four cards from a deck to get a short reading. Like the blurb says, the process is a bit like tarot, although different - the cards and the logic of the reading both appear to be designed by the author and contain some unique symbolism and meaning.

The program has been made in Unity and it features some 3d-graphics, a smooth presentation as well as a set of hand-drawn cards. The execution is generally impressive, although there are a few typos and I couldnít find a button for quickly restarting to get a new reading. Wonder if that is by design?

Carl Jung thought tarot could have relevance in psychology because of the archetypal imagery contained in the cards, and Iím guessing the author is along the same lines here. Symbols can be a powerful way to express concepts, and being confronted with symbolic imagery in relation to a personally important topic might help you see it from a new angle, or possibly ascribe new meaning to it.

The blurb says that this game is ďintended as an aid for mediation, and for the envisaging of radical futuresĒ, and I have no doubt that with the right type of a person it will do just the trick. If you enjoy esotericism, symbols, cartomancy and similar topics - or just have a generally pareidolic sensibility - Saint Simonís Saw could be helpful, enlightening or simply interesting. It only does one thing, but it does it well. (Itís probably a very acquired taste, though.)

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samuelthomson, January 3, 2021 - Reply
Thanks for your constructive review, AKheon. I'm re-drafting the writing of the game before a mobile release and so I'll check the spelling. I considered a "restart" button, and decided against it because i liked the idea of the deck being as physical/lifelike as possible, but if you found yourself looking for it, perhaps it needs to be there.

I enjoyed your reference to Jung, and there are definite similarities with archetypes and the methodology I used to create the card meanings, although this was always intended to be a partial set of tools for thinking about things, I'm not claiming it as any kind of innate or universal system. Mostly I picked interesting figures and ideas from a range of incomplete projects I've been working on, and tried to match them up to concepts of conceptually splitting, separating, or otherwise defining one thing against another.

I'm very pleased to hear that you were struck by the execution of the project.
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