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Skeleton, July 17, 2013
It's not hard to discern the game that this wants to be: a setting-focused, slow-recovery-from-amnesia, evil-science-secrets-uncovered, atmospheric-horror piece akin to Babel, drawing on a potent setting: the ruins of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl and its sequels have explored very similar territory, albeit with more guns.
Pripyat has some bells and whistles - music, a scattering of graphics - but the game itself reads like the rough outline of a parser IF game, rather than a complete implementation of a choice-based one. The protagonist's actions are all adventure-game standards: examining scenery, reading diary pages, collecting inventory items and using them on things.
It's very short: every possible action is a key plot-coupon action, except for one that instantly kills you. Horror, and especially this kind of setting-reliant piecing-together-the-fragments horror, needs a slow build to be effective. The impatient pace means that setting and atmospherics -- which would seem like strengths of the premise -- get neglected. And the speed of plot delivery means that a perfectly serviceable plot ends up feeling facile.
So there are some sound instincts here, but a great deal more work needs to be done.
- Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.), July 16, 2013
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