Delightful Wallpaper

by Andrew Plotkin ('Edgar O. Weyrd') profile

Surreal/Mystery
2006

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Number of Reviews: 10
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
The wallpaper has promise..., November 27, 2010
by The Year Is Yesterday (California)

This is an exceedingly difficult game to review. The writing is wryly Victorian and often amusing, the mechanics are quite transgressive, and the "story" is ambiguous enough to allow for several satisfying interpretations. You can't die, but it's fiendishly difficult at times, while at others it's ethereally simple. Despite the fact that I despise the first half of it, the second is brilliant enough that I can't bear to rate it below four stars.

One of the conceits of Wallpaper is that the setting reacts to your presence: passageways will open or close depending on your movements. This is not very friendly for somebody like me, who can barely keep track of the relative position of moderately complex rooms when everything's standing still. And, for reasons that will hopefully become clear as you play, nearly all non-movement verbs other than examine have been disabled, so if you don't like mazes you ought to go home now. Or you could, like me, take advantage of the walkthrough to get through this obnoxious section: after spending a frustrating half-hour trying to solve it on my own, I eventually followed the walkthrough to the letter, barely paying attention to room descriptions.

If you do manage to make it to Wallpaper's second half, you'll be rewarded by one of the most fantastically innovative chunks of gameplay IF has produced. I won't spoil anything, but you'll be dealing with potentialities and motivations rather than physical objects, and the puzzles are simultaneously mind-bending and logical, sadistic and satisfying. If you get stuck in either section, the command "read notes" will help; here, it provides some rather illuminating hints, both to the puzzles at hand and the larger story. Helping everything fall into place is an unrivaled joy.

While I can't support the migraine-inducing maze, I can say this: Delightful Wallpaper is the most paradigm-shifting half of an IF I've yet encountered.