Delightful Wallpaper

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


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Number of Reviews: 10
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Two games in one: solve a logical puzzlefest and write a story, December 6, 2018

What new can one say about a game that's been reviewed ten times already? Not much, perhaps, but Delightful Wallpaper is such a delight that perhaps reviewing it will bring it to other folks' attentions.

The most important thing to know about Delightful Wallpaper is that it is two games in one. The first game is basically a shorter version of Inside the Facility. (Well, Delightful Wallpaper predates Inside the Facility by ten years, so perhaps it's more accurate to say that Inside the Facility is a longer version of the first half of Delightful Wallpaper.) The puzzles all revolve around movement: Visiting certain locations or traversing certain passages triggers various doors to open or close in the mansion. You must learn and keep track of these in order to figure out how to reach all of the rooms. It's a logical puzzlefest of the kind I particularly enjoy.

You're assisted greatly by the fact that the game keeps "notes" for you that you can review. If something interesting happens when you visit a room or traverse a passage, the game records it in your list of notes, perhaps along with a question mark. When you discover what that particular action did, the game updates that entry in the notes. It makes the puzzles much easier than they would be otherwise: You don't have to worry about having missed something important in the text. It also means that the game records some solutions in your notes before you've completely figured out what's happening. I have a mixed opinion on the notes: I think they make what would likely be a fiendishly difficult game into something much more reasonable, but they also tilt the game a little too far to the easy side for my taste. However, I appreciate the challenge the author faces here, and I also can't think of a better solution for hitting the difficulty level "sweet spot" than the one the author has chosen.

The second game is very different. You have to collect "intentions" (these are sort of like motivations or actions different characters can take) and place them around the mansion. You're essentially creating a narrative for the characters. You don't have complete control of the narrative, though: There's a definite end state for each of the characters, and there are plenty of restrictions on which intentions you can place where. All in all, the second half of Delightful Wallpaper plays like a story that you're writing. It's interactive, in the sense that there are choices that you make for the characters, but you're not actually one of the characters. Instead, you're more like an author, deciding what each character does. While I think different interpretations are possible here, I felt like I was (Spoiler - click to show)Agatha Christie writing a sequel to And Then There Were None.

If I could have one wish about the second half, it would be to include a puzzle where you must put the intentions in a particular logical order in order to make the narrative work. In retrospect, the set of intention placements that I came up with did result in a narrative that made logical sense, but I would have liked to have seen the intentions constructed such that this was a bit harder to do.

So, what we have here are two games in one. And the games are very different. They're like two classic IF archetypes: the logical puzzlefest to be solved and the interactive story to be written. I suppose you could also say that in Delightful Wallpaper the opposing sides of Graham Nelson's "narrative at war with a crossword" description of IF have declared a cease-fire, with each side agreeing to take half of the game.

All in all, a delight to play.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
First part is like a Rubik's cube; second part like a creative writing workshop, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

The first part of the game is a completely technical puzzle. No moves can hurt you, and there are no characters or items. As a mathematician, I found this part of the game deeply enjoyable. Like a Rubik's cube, I realized that each element can be manipulated by a little "dance". These are the important "dances":

(Spoiler - click to show)Going n, e, s, w from the kitchen lowers the floor.

Going e, n, w, s, w from the kitchen raises the floor.

Going in a similar circle around the dining room changes the direction of the bridge. If the foyer is closed, go up twice through the kitchen first.

To go down or up, do a kitchen dance and approach the moving floor from w or e, respectively.

As for the second part, the idea was fun, and the implementation was fun, but the subject matter was not my cup of tea. I found it fun to explore everything, but used a walkthrough once I tried every item.

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
The first half is absolutely despicable. , January 2, 2015
by Chai Hai (Kansas City KS)

I really enjoyed the second half of this game, but I must detract points for an unsolvable first half.

It was a maze of hideous design in my opinion, having to walk through the rooms just right or else you're screwed. I gave up and had to follow the walkthrough. Even then I was screwed.

One would think that if one has given up, all one needs to do is find the entrance point and then follow the walk through. NOPE.

You have to enter the rooms in some precise manner, and I had to completely restart the game so I could get the maze mechanics correct.I like exploring my surroundings, but when exploring becomes detrimental to a complex puzzle, you're doing it wrong.

Also, I found the game incredibly dull and boring at the beginning. You just wander through rooms, without realizing you're in some complex maze puzzle, and you can't pick up anything. To me, half the fun of CYOA games is the objects and what you do with them. Being told I can't do squat irritates me.

Not being able to open doors was infuriating as well. Ok, I must be a ghost. if so, then why can't I just bypass all the doors? Ok, I can't do that, so why are there unopenable doors? How the heck am I supposed to continue the game? What is the point of this game then? GBNGVERGER

I then decided to check the games home page to see what all the fuss was about. Reading reviews it seemed there was a second part that sounded fun. It was. I enjoyed the riddles and seeing the events unfold and deciphering motives, but sadly my frustration with the first part soured my fun with the second half.

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
What is it about mansion murder mysteries?, November 9, 2014
by CMG (NYC)

When you do a mansion murder mystery wrong, it's just another cliche. But when you do one right, you see why mansion murder mysteries are a thing in the first place. The medley of characters, the capacity for both realism and theatricality, the layered motivations, the rooms upon rooms each opening into more scenarios, expansive and yet bounded like a prison, and the wonder and horror and greed and lust and ego that naturally bubble up from the mixture.

And death. There's always death.

This game is two games in one. The first game is about the mansion itself. The second game is about the characters who inhabit it. In both games, you're initially presented with various obscure elements, but as you play along they click together to reveal totally logical underpinnings.

The mansion is mechanized. Its doors open and close, its floors raise and lower, and its tower bridge turns depending on which rooms you've entered in which order. It's not exactly a maze. You can't get lost. Rather, you have to explore your environment until you understand the principles behind its clockwork. After you've unlocked the mansion, then the second game begins.

The cast has arrived, suspended in tableaux in every room, stuck in time (which does not exist here in the usual sense). Now you aren't exploring the rooms but the characters by reading and rearranging their "intentions," which can be taken and moved like physical objects through the mansion. The intentions interact differently with different characters in different rooms. As you piece together who is really doing what to whom, and why, you're rewarded with humorous and grisly couplets describing each death that takes place. The couplets will rewrite themselves depending on how you organize everyone's motivations. It's a murder mystery in reverse, where the player doesn't solve whodunnit, but actually lays the psychological groundwork for "it" to be done.

My only disappointments with this game were that there was not a bedroom (what missed potential) and that one tower is ultimately irrelevant to both the puzzles and the story. It also would've been nice if the mansion had a plot-related purpose behind its mechanization.

It's true that the game is disjointed due to its distinctive halves, but each half is entertaining and I wouldn't sacrifice either. Although I do think the second half is where it really shines. The whole thing is a little like an interactive Edward Gorey book, which also makes "Delightful Wallpaper" about the best title I could imagine for it.

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
tough with a good story, November 2, 2014

The first part was dizzying. I almost gave up! After reading some other reviews, I finally settled on finding some help to get through it. The second part was much easier and ultimately made the game worthwhile. Check it out!

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
The wallpaper isn't actually relevant., June 29, 2013

I though the first half of this game was really fun. A definite 5 stars for the first half.

If the second half was presented on its own, it might get a 3 or 4. It wasn't necessarily bad, but I didn't find it as interesting or captivating. And I felt like it required a lot of trial-and-error.

This is a puzzle-y game. The subtitle in the splash screen talks about a murder mystery, but the goal of this game isn't really to solve any mysteries or murders. Some people are describing it as a "maze" which I don't agree with. But the first half of the game is a puzzle based on how you travel through the rooms of the house, so perhaps that's the reason?

Once you accept the fact that you can't physically interact with anything (apart from walking over things), you have to figure out just what you can do to affect the world around you. I think this made for an ingenious puzzle, which involves traversing through the rooms of the house in the right order so as to achieve the effects you desire.

I wonder if those who were frustrated with the "maze-like" aspect thought to plot a map of the house as they went? I never once thought of the house as a maze since there was almost always a clear way to travel from one room to another. The key was just to make sure you travelled through the rooms in the correct order on your way to your destination. This isn't difficult as long as you have a map detailing the different entryways and you remember to keep the in-game notes in mind.

I didn't particularly dislike the second half, though I can understand why some people did not find it as enthralling.

In the second half you no longer have to worry about the house. Instead you focus on the guests that have finally arrived. The goal of the second half of the game is to place "intentions" onto the characters or object in the rooms in order to manipulate the characters into a certain action. This did not feel difficult but (for me at least) it required mostly trial-and-error to get a final result. The notes seem to hint at a specific configuration but I couldn't find a way to arrange the intentions exactly as the notes suggested.

They weren't difficult, though the second puzzle took a lot of trial-and-error.
The house puzzle was internally logical. The cause-and-effect actions were always consistent and the notes were indispensable for keeping track of them. The behaviour of the house never felt random or like the game was trying to trick me

I can see similarities between the two main puzzles of the game, since they are both in a similar vein of strategizing. In the first, you want to strategically plan your routes through the rooms so as to manipulate the house appropriately. In the second, you want to optimize your arrangement of the intentions to ensure everyone gets a conclusion. But it feels like two different games.

A very helpful part of the first puzzle is that the notebook you keep on you will automatically update itself and help explain to you just what effects you have had on the house (in case you missed the alerts in the text as I know I often did).

The language is nicely stylized. It has a sort of Victorian flair that lends to the atmosphere about the game. The narrator seems to get distracted by wallpaper on occasion, though I still don't understand why.

You aren't given an initial motivation to explore the house, nor are you given a goal at the start of the game. I assume the player is meant to eventually realize that they should be trying to open all the closed doors, but it isn't ever explained why. (You are eventually rewarded for your efforts with an item that you need that leads to the second half of the game, but I don't recall the game ever telling me I was looking for it, or even that I was searching for something at all).

(Also, though I say "all the rooms" I still never figured out a way to open the uninteresting doors).

In regards to story, from my understanding the purpose of this game is to present the "mansion murder mystery" from a new perspective. While you are able to observe the guests while in the house, you know nothing of them outside their behaviour in the mansion, and you can not interact with them in any substantial way. However, once you reach the end and learn who (Spoiler - click to show)(or what) the player character really was, I think it helped that aspect of the game make sense (the house still wasn't explained but I'm happy to leave it to a willing suspension of disbelief).

Don't get your hopes up for a scientific or real-world explanation for what happened. There is an air of supernatural about the story throughout (the house responding to your movements, for instance; as well as the message you receive if you try to touch anything) which is reinforced by the short concluding blurb. Even though it was only a couple sentences, I felt like the ending conclusively explained the character's motivations (but I'm sure some people might not agree with the sort of "non-explanation" explanation that was given).

My biggest advice is make a map. And label the types of doorways or arches or entrances. It will make this game immensely easier than if you don't. (I use Trizbort for maps, and there is plenty of other map-making freeware out there).

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Only for masochists and extreme maze-lovers (RR #5), October 7, 2012

Delightful Wallpaper by Andrew Plotkin is a fantasy/mystery puzzle game that is as much removed from being fun as possible. The minimalist, fragmental story does not provide much of an incentive to figure out maze puzzles so hard they put diamond (which is as we all know the hardest metal known the man!) to shame.

The interactivity is very limited in this game. I found myself trying to pick up objects time and again, only to be foiled by the protagonist's (who initially comes across as some kind of gentleman burglar) smug unwillingness to "manipulate gross material substance". Using your inventory in this game is mostly limited to your trusty (telepathically controlled, then?) notepad, which, of course, only serves you baffle you even more how to progress in the ever-changing maze scenery. Moving around your protagonist opens and closes pathways and doors (generously, no map is provided. Hint system? Nope.), inevitably sending you around in circles and engendering frustration-induced headaches. The difficulty in wrapping your mind around a multitude of sometimes-connected rooms is painfully juxtaposed with how utterly uninteresting it is being a nameless character exploring an empty house of immovable objects with no real goal or mission in the first place!

In fact, there is really not much needed to be said about Delightful Wallpaper. (Spoiler - click to show)By the way, the wallpaper - you guessed it - serves no purpose in the story whatsoever. The ending is brief and does not reveal any additional information that would justify wasting your time on a game that should be used only for testing interactive fiction auto-solving programmes.

Good coding? Definitely.
Fun to play? Not at all. Not at all.

No rating due to the fact that after one third of the game I got helplessly stuck, but couldn't be bothered to put too much effort into progressing on my own and instead finished the game by following the walkthrough.

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Round and round, October 1, 2011
by Deboriole (San Diego, CA)

Admittedly, at the beginning of this game, I wandered around in circles. I read my notes over and over and by the end of the game I knew my way around quite well. My only real gripe came in the second half. (Spoiler - click to show)two of the intentions - coral and crimson - were to be merely dropped, when all the others went into or onto something in particular. I found this to be annoying as I had the right place and recipient, yet could not figure out how to stage the crime. I had to look at the walkthrough.

Other than that, I really enjoyed the navigation puzzles and the 'poetry.'

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.

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Fiendish Mechanisms, October 17, 2007
by Trajectory (Edinburgh, UK)

The player character enters a mansion, anticipating a party which is to occur there later. He cannot interact with the environment in the usual way - however, the mansion reacts to his presence, reconfiguring itself depending on his actions.

This is a fascinating game - especially at first, when trying to work out exactly what is going on. The lack of the ability to pick up or manipulate objects in the normal way seems frustrating initially, but it's easy to adjust to. One great feature is a notepad that tracks what the player character has discovered about the workings of the mansion - a nice touch.

The second part of the game has split reviewers more. This takes place in the same mansion, while aforementioned party is going on. The events of the party are fractured in time: the same characters appear in different locations simultaneously, to indicate their participation in events at different stages of the evening. The player must collect "intentions" and unite them with the appropriate person. In doing this, a murderous (albeit poetic) tapestry is unravelled.

I thought both parts were intriguing and original. The first is indeed a stronger concept and more satisfying to solve, but the second part is startling (and, in places, baffling) enough to make it distinctive.

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