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About the Story
You are standing on a tall pole. So tall you can't see the ground below. All you see, is a bright blue sky around you. And the sun. And some clouds. And a huge egg, motionlessly floating a couple of feet from your head. [a one-move game, with a twist]
Number of Reviews: 3
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I wanted to like this curious little game: the opening situation is surreal but described with a certain amount of appeal, and one-move (or fake-one-move) games are an interesting subgenre with more room for exploration.
Unfortunately, the prose in Phoenix Move is full of errors and infelicities -- some of them as simple as it's/its errors, some of them more complicated abuses of English idiom. It wasn't always clear where the author was trying for a deliberately poetic or peculiar description and where the language had just gotten out of hand. Soon I found the effect off-putting enough that I stopped playing.
There were also some rough spots where quite obvious actions (most surprisingly, GET EGG) were unaccounted-for.
So this might be something fairly evocative, but it might be a good idea for the author to collaborate with a native English speaker to check through the text.
Despite what the author says, The Phoenix Move is not a one-move game. The game does put the player back on top of the pole after every turn, but any changes made to the world do not reset. In this sense the game resembles not Aisle but Sam Barlow's other game The City. This got me stuck for a while when I tried to find the one winning move when in fact you need a series of moves to win.
The game gradually reveals a nice story and the prose is fun to read. Influences from Aisle and Pick Up the Phone Booth and Aisle can be seen in the writing style as well. Unfortunately the ending doesn't work that well - the final textdump explains the background too much leaving nothing for the player to work out. (Spoiler - click to show)The final choice presented to the player both contradicts the story and is altogether unnecessary. It would have been more satisfying and more consistent if the game would have made the choice automatically based on the player's actions during the game.
If I had to categorize TPM, I would put it, like many one-move games I've played, into a class of interactive poetics, and like a poem TPM concentrates intently on its situation to produce an act of the imagination in the reader.
Despite being rough around the edges this game displays a genuine humor and verve that makes playing worthwhile.