by Adam Cadre profile

Slice of life

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Interactive fiction only, lacks replayability, October 27, 2019

When this game first came out, it was the first "html-style" text adventure game I had ever played; with the exception of Eric the Unready's hybrid of graphics and text-input, I had never played a text adventure game which involved anything more than inputting text and certainly had never seen a text-only input game use color changes on screen as in Photopia. I remember being favorably impressed at the time, especially since the colors changes are influenced by the story itself.

However, the novelty fades on replaying - even 20 years later, when some of the details of the story had faded from my memory: I am underwhelmed by a game which requires next to no interaction from me. Personally, I enjoy leisurely text adventures with perhaps several different endings and the opportunity to explore, fail, ferret out solutions, and interact with the fictional world. In other words, I like to partake in a story and have an investment in its outcome.

Photopia affords none of this whatsoever. There is no adventure to this story, and there is nothing the end user can do to alter the outcome. The end user is steadily pushed through from scene to scene, with the only choice being a handful of conversation topics, all of which lead to the same certain conclusion. There are few things to actually 'do.' This is much like reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book... but all the pages to which you turn ultimately take you to the same endgame/red light.

Photopia's publication seemed, at least to me, to begin a trend in departure from text adventure to a true "interactive fiction" genre, where the author has a story to tell and is determined to have you read it. In retrospect to my first-time playthrough and in combination with my recent replaying, I am confident in saying that while this worked for a one-time storytelling, Photopia does not hold up to repeated replaying.

Extra star given for its discussion of precious metals.

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