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Brilliant, breathtaking, and deserving the praise. , December 21, 2010
When I first noticed Photopia and it's popularity as an IF, I was very sceptical. I was even more skeptical because the first part of gameplay was about two drunk guys swearing and drinking. I thought, "Great! Another IF made in under an hour by two teens after a party.". I hardly gave it a chance at all, but continued reading to see where the fuss was about.
I can't tell you how much my heart changed during the story. It starts out just a fragmentation of perspectives and story lines in no particular order, but as the story progresses, I became aware quite suddenly that the story had logic, thoughtfulness, and was so deep. At certain points of the story (Spoiler - click to show) the part where the father is explaining about the stars to Alley, the place where you begin to fly, and the actual death of Alley I was really moved by the emotional writing and the ability of the writer to draw tears from me. And yes, I admit, I did cry a few tears.
Really the one character which was focused on was Alley, but through different people (Spoiler - click to show)well of course there was also the spaceman, but that was invoked by Alley the personally changes really strengthened Alley's character, by showing her out of the eyes of many people around her. Some argue her character is too robotic; being 'perfect' at everything and unrealistic, but I, on the other hand, do not feel this way at all. Alley is not unrealistic at all. The author keeps her very alive through the many perspectives. I would argue that instead of being unrealistic, she is just not ordinary, in a world where ordinary sometimes means, well, like the two at the beginning of Photopia. Alley's attitude and character make her not impossible, but a gem. (Spoiler - click to show) The changing of perspectives was used very well to portray Alley, and to make us care about her death. The story showed how unfair it was that such a person could be killed by pure carelessness, and was not only well-written, but had a strong moral
The story has few puzzles and the puzzles it does have are hardly worth being called puzzles at all. However, in a broader perspective, the whole thing is one giant puzzle which you have to solve. Slowly piecing the tiny bits and paragraphs, you have to interpret what is going on through a number of perspectives. I believe that is what non-puzzle IF is all about; trying to determine the significance of the story you're reading through the characters, setting, and interaction. In my opinion, Photopia was (and is) *the* driving force for modern non-puzzle gameplay as well as modern interest for Interactive Fiction. I have not seen a non-puzzle IF come close to as good as Photopia, and I have certainly not played anything that is so emotional.
Photopia is (as stated in the title) Brilliant, breathtaking, and deserving the praise.