Arborea

by richard develyn

2022

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A very large puzzler parser game themed around trees, October 15, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours

This is a very large IFComp parser game where you in a sort of simulation trying to find a 'kernel' of some sorts.

The main area is a giant tree, from which you can eventually find 8 sub-areas. Each sub-area is a simulation of a different part of the world, including the Amazon rainforest, Missouri, Elizabethean England, etc.

Gameplay consists of finding objects in one world and generally using them in another. It can be fun to try and think where one can be used.

Content-wise, everyone has things they like and don't like; while I enjoyed the mini worlds idea quite a bit and some of the sections like the Viking ones, I felt uncomfortable with some of the others. There's some sexual wish-fulfillment in play (like a dominatrix pirate and a harem of succubi), though nothing explicit seems to occur, and there are some cultural moments where I thought it wasn't an entirely respectful depiction or relied on surface-level depictions. At times I feel it reaches too hard (at one point, an extreme not repeated, it even says "they wander off[...]together to figure out what to do with the rest of the wreckage of their miserable lives (this is called "pathos", by the way)."

Overall, the level of polish is high; there were a few sticky situations (like how (Spoiler - click to show)ENTER BAOBAB works but (Spoiler - click to show)ENTER CRACK doesn't in the first room of the Savannah).

I messed around for about an hour on my own, accruing 11 points, then followed the walkthrough. Some of the later puzzles seem to require a great deal of mind-reading, but I suppose there may be more in-game hints if I had reached those points naturally.

Overall, it has a lot of satisfying parser elements. While the tone and characters didn't always reach me emotionally, there is a lot of craftmanship evident. I don't plan on revisiting it, but it is polished, descriptive, and has much good interactivity.