Shade

by Andrew Plotkin profile

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Number of Reviews: 40
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
The logic of Death, September 28, 2016
by Form 27b-6 (Southern California)

The true merit of Shade is that it poses the question of free will and fate through interactive fiction. The game (experience?) gives a semblance of freedom to the player. However, as the character explores his room and his grasp on reality weakens, and as he ultimately fails to escape his ordeal (or is the tragedy already behind us?), the player can't quite derail the scripted structure of the game. And thus Andrew Plotkin bonds the player and the character through constraint rather than freedom, which in itself is a bold and original proposition.

The result can be somewhat frustrating, but also conveys the stressful and helpless nature of the situation. However, Andrew Plotkin was clever enough to alleviate the tedious trial and error pattern common to these types of games, by offering some tools to the player. I particularly liked his use of the (Spoiler - click to show)To-do List, to guide the reader through the sequence of events.

Overall, I think Shade is a truly accomplished work, both from literary and technical standpoints. It's definitely morbid, but also very atmospheric and poignant, and the author doesn't lose focus on his main themes throughout the entire game. Players hoping for rewarding puzzles should look elsewhere though, as Shade doesn't offer any meaningful challenge. I was able to complete my first play through without hints within an hour or so. It makes Shade a really good introduction to IF, especially for people interested in the less "gamey" fringe of the medium. This was my first contact with the work of Andrew Plotkin, and it made me crave for more.