Shade

by Andrew Plotkin profile

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2000

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
mesmerising, surreal horror that doesn't overstay its welcome, March 13, 2021

one of my favourite short IF pieces. despite (or perhaps because of) its relatively short length, plotkin manages to create a vividly realised setting that absorbs the player and doesn't let go.

the game's central plot mechanic makes it very hard to discuss what makes it so effective, but here's some of my spoilery thoughts for those who've already played it:

(Spoiler - click to show)i found myself reaching a point where i knew exactly what was going to happen whenever i interacted with another object. knowing that any actions i took would just make it worse, but also knowing that i had to take actions to advance the plot, created a beautiful tension that toys with the idea of agency in IF. it's a simple choice, but within IF, (a medium entirely based on player input) it's pretty genius to tie the worsening of the fear in a horror game directly to the player's own actions like that.

also, it helps that the pacing is just slow enough for the player to wallow in that dread, but never quick enough to diminish its impact.


the prose is evocative but suitably sparse given the game's subtle, psychological approach to horror. and the decision not to flesh out the protagonist's character really helps to place yourself into the setting.

overall, this game is a wonderful way to spend an evening if you enjoy a slow-burn linear experience that holds your attention plot-wise but doesn't demand too much of anything puzzle-wise. perhaps it wears its heart too much on its sleeve to merit replays, but i'd argue a game like this sticks with you enough that replays aren't strictly necessary.


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MathBrush, March 14, 2021 - Reply
Very nice review, thanks!
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