by Emily Short profile


Return to the game's main page

Member Reviews

5 star:
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:
1 star:
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 9
Write a review

1-9 of 9

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Intriguing idea for a game, January 16, 2024
by Wynter (London, UK)

A text adventure with a twist: without giving too much away, the player has much more freedom to imagine what can be done with the objects they find than in the average parser game.

Metamorphoses takes place in a fascinating and mysterious setting, a medieval/early modern world of alchemy and of the four humours. You are in a house filled with strange and wonderful objects and paintings, which enhance the gameplay considerably. I would have liked to have known more about the building you are in, and how it came to be as it is, and more backstory about the playing character and the Master more generally. In Emily Short's Bronze, for comparison, the castle and the objects within it are more closely linked to the story.

It is a short game, and according to the 'help' function, not a difficult one; I actually found it harder than I expected, perhaps because the setting is so mysterious that the actions you have to perform are not always self-explanatory, and also there is the extra challenge provided by the sheer number of permutations that the game allows.

I admired this game mostly for the clever idea and for the gorgeous descriptions and setting that I have come to expect from an Emily Short game.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Perfection, June 23, 2023

I last played this game over twenty years ago when I was in middle school. It stuck in the back of my mind quite literally my whole life, and finally replaying it now has been the absolute pleasure I expected it to be.

The only downside to the game is how short it is, because I wished I could have enjoyed it for at least a few more hours. The puzzles are all pleasantly solvable. There is a semblance of plot, but the appeal of this game, in my opinion, is getting to interact with the interesting mechanics, and wade through the dreamy atmosphere courtesy of Short's impeccable writing.

As someone trained in classical Greek philosophy, (Spoiler - click to show)collecting the elements as represented by their corresponding five platonic solids was a satisfying task. If you know any of those ancient theories, it's obvious Short did her homework.

The best part of this little interactive novella is, to me, the opening- where the walls aren't material, and going to the next room is more of an ascension of one's soul than a relocation. I was a bit disappointed as the game became more "concrete," but what remained was still ethereal, strange, and captivating.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
A dreamlike search for..., September 9, 2021
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: Puzzler, Fantasy

First off, some tech-stuff: This game is, hands-down, the most deeply implemented piece of Interactive Fiction I have ever played or heard of. Along with that, it also provides an amazing freedom of experimentation. This is no sandbox, this is dune after dune.

The puzzles are,partly because of the aforementioned freedom, not hard. They are sensible and great fun. Choose your own logical approach and try it. Many different solutions will work, and those that don't will not work for a reason. Very rewarding.

The story is very much for the player to fill in. Lady Short gives you the backbone elements of a story of personal growth and inner realization, up to you to interpret it. The many different endings also give you many possible interpretations.

The writing is crisp and clear, giving Metamorphoses that dreamlike quality. The descriptions are detailed enough to be practical, without excess decoration. Exactly because of the sparse descriptions, the imagination has ample room to dream up it's own version of your surroundings.

Maybe the biggest puzzle here is the quest for completeness.A reverse read-the-author's-mind problem. When playing (and replaying) ask yourself, "What has Emily Short NOT thought of?"

Very, very good game.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A game with thousands of possible items and many endings, February 3, 2016

I revisited this game after five years. This time I was struck by the enjoyability of playing around with the transformation machines. Nothing is more fun than making an enormous wooden dress and destroying it, or making a spongy key. The total number of possible items you can make it immense.

Emily Short describes on her website that this game was developed in part because she was trying to implement different textures, sizes, etc. to make an extremely customizable game. Thus, like with many of her games, this game tries to push the boundaries of what IF can do, with a story wrapped up around it after the fact.

Other examples of this "new implementation or gameplay technique wrapped up in a story" are Counterfeit Monkey and Galatea. However, for me, story is my first concern with interactive fiction. That's why I love the intricate details of Curses!, Anchorhead, Worlds Apart, Theatre, etc. So this leads to an interesting effect when I play Short's "implementation" games; I have a blast at the time, and then generally forget the game afterwards. Metamorphoses is such a game; it's fun as a tool, but not very memorable as a story. The same is true of "Dreamhold" by Plotkin, which was designed as a tutorial.

As a final note, I love Short's story-heavy games like Glass. Remembering the "smell of blood" ending creeps me out...

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Deep and faceted game, December 23, 2012
by Andromache (Hawaii)

This is the second time I played this game. The first time, this database was either not operational or I hadn't discovered it yet. Being one who comes and goes in the interactive fiction community, part of the reason I replayed it was to get back into the mindset of this medium and I remembered I thoroughly enjoyed this game the first time.

Playing again, I have to say I appreciate it more because I'm not as preoccupied with how to solve the puzzles. It's not that the puzzles are hard; they are in fact incredibly intuitive and I didn't need a walkthrough. I even found several solutions to puzzles that I hadn't discovered the first time. There is one guess-the-verb issue and another solution that is somewhat alarming, but I think this is a subjective judgment coming from someone who isn't generally in it for the puzzles. I don't mind puzzles, but they need to be consistent and plausible for the story, and all of these were. They were even fun, because you can be very creative with the paths you take.

However, what really makes this game stand out for me is the symbolism and writing. Knowing more or less the results of actions allowed me to focus more on aesthetics in prose and story, and this game is a good combination of acquiring items and giving those items significance as more than just treasures to take home. They are concrete items with ties to the immaterial, and it's not only the items that undergo changes.

It is tough to talk about the game without spoiling things. But if you like well-intigrated, logical problems that grow out of the world and backstory of your character and get fulfillment from endings (yes, there are multiple ones) that make you think and are what you make of them, I think this is a journey worth taking that is immersive enough to revisit from time to time. I know this one isn't leaving my collection if I can help it.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Technically Innovative and Narratively Intriguing, March 27, 2012
by Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.)
Related reviews: emily short, fantasy

Play it if: you have a thing for fairy tales, ancient Greek philosophy, non-linear puzzle-solving, or general weirdness.

Don't play it if: you want truly difficult puzzles or a backstory that completely wins your heart.

Metamorphoses has many of the traits I like the most about Emily Short's best work: a fascination with the past, a fairy-tale atmosphere, and innovative game mechanics - traits which can be found to various extents in works like Galatea, Savoir-Faire, and Bronze.

In this game, it is the mechanics which come to the foreground, with your ability to resize objects as well as change their chemical composition. It's absurdly tempting to lose sight of the game altogether and just spend time looking for different configurations you can achieve with random objects in the setting.

True to form, the puzzles in this story have multiple solutions - courtesy of the above-mentioned game mechanics - and while this substantially reduces the overall difficulty of the game in some ways, it in no way detracts from the fun. In fact, a couple of puzzles may even be harder, since you are forced to consider the uses of not only the normal objects in your inventory, but also the potential objects. In this sense the game is nothing short of mind-expanding in terms of how interactive fiction can model worlds.

The rest of the game, while solid, is more textbook. As you solve puzzles you learn more and more of the protagonist's backstory and understand something of her role in this world. It's good stuff and quite intriguing, but by itself it won't really hook you or haunt you afterwards. Which is fine - a game can't be everything at once - but it does mean that you'll be more likely to find the game itself impressive than the story.

Nevertheless, this is a work that is definitely worth your time: a quirky setting, an interesting story, fun non-linear puzzles, and most of all some fascinating game mechanics.

P.S. Personally, I was curious as to whether or not living objects could be modified. Shame that I couldn't find an animal or something to try it out on...

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Ah... I love a bit of metaphysics in the morning, November 30, 2010
by Aintelligence (Canada)
Related reviews: Puzzles

Not only is this one of Emily Short's best works ( along with bronze, check it out), but this is a sure candidate for one of the best adventures ever. The story was bleak to say the least, with just a few hints here and there, but it works wonders for the mysterious story. You know that you're a slave sent by your master for some mission, but you slowly accumulate the story as you go along. And yes, it's one heck of a story too. Brilliant characters, brilliant story, great puzzles and the philosophy was top.
The main character, a slave is relatively unknown except for the flashbacks we have in the game. The game though focuses more on the puzzles and the philosophy though than the character, but the little we do know bought the protagonist really strengthens the plot.
The puzzles are really neat in many ways. They fit the magic that you feel in the story, in the sense that none of the puzzles feel forced, but feel like they should be there. Also unlike many adventures, the puzzles are solvable in many different ways, so the game is repeatable. These puzzles are genius. However even with the 5 star rating, not everything was perfect. I found that two puzzles in particular (Spoiler - click to show)the oven and the ball were impossible if you did a small bit wrong. Ah well, I saved. In short though, the puzzles were fair.
On a side note, I loved the Plato mixed in with the story, well actually the main part of the story, aka. The 5th element. Makes me want to read Plato again.

Note: this rating is not included in the game's average.
Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful:
Puzzles, Plato and Purification, June 26, 2008
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

Imagine a puzzle game making strong use of a set of simulationist rules about materials and sizes. Imagine a game set in the only partly material laboratory of a Renaissance magus. And imagine a game where the player character attempts to escape from bondage through spiritual purification.

If you can imagine all of those together, you have imagined Metamorphoses.

It is not just a strange game, it is also a very good game. The writing is impeccable and Short effectively weaves together the PCs current exploits with a more emotionally gripping backstory. The puzzles mostly aren't too hard, and all seem to have multiple solutions. The atmosphere is simply great. And there is also true progression in the story, as the PC purifies herself and finally chooses her own fate.

It is also a short game, and you'll probably play through it in two hours. That does mean that the backstory remains very sketchy, and the story doesn't get the emotional resonance that it might have gotten in a longer game. (I would have liked to see the Master in-game, for instance.) The multiple endings don't really work, since you choose between in your last move and that means that everyone is going to Undo and try out the other ones immediately (right?). And there were one or two details in the setting which I felt didn't really fit into the Universe of Renaissance Platonism.

But all in all, these are insignificant complaints compared to the virtues of the game. If you like puzzles, Plato and purification, you should not give this piece a miss.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | View comments (1) - Add comment 

2 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Perhaps a candidate for Lojban translation., November 24, 2007
by MattArnold (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Related reviews: mimesis

The experimental and physical nature of this game world makes me wonder if it would be an ideal candidate to translate into the artificial predicate-nominative language Lojban. The author has described the game as an experiment in "mimesis" (the representation of nature), and I suspect that the unambiguous root words of Lojban may be well-suited to expressing and interpreting mimesis. A physics model embodied in language seems to need something more object-oriented than English.

That is not to say that the game does not succeed in this already, merely that it revealed fascinating possibilities.

If you had told me that an interesting story could be set in a world of Platonic ideals, I would have wondered how it could be possible. But I feel like this is a world I would be interested in revisiting. It held my imagination. The multiple endings were a loving touch.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

1-9 of 9 | Return to game's main page