Number of Reviews: 42
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Powerful, Affecting, August 29, 2021
by ccpost (Greensboro, North Carolina)
I don't know that there's much I can add to the numerous reviews, but I played this for the first time recently and I wanted to register the incredibly moving experience that this game delivered for me. I'm still fairly new to IF, though I've had thought-provoking experiences with several works that have quickly demonstrated the artistic potential of the form to me. Photopia, though, is the first IF work that I've encountered that has moved me at a deep, soul-searching level. From start to finish, Photopia is a fine crafted, emotionally-wrenching experience.
I went into the game with only the barest information about it -- that it has been considered incredibly influential and that it experiments with the interactive fiction form. As much as probably any IF work, this one really benefits from going in with as few (or none!) spoilers as possible. I won't delve into any of the specifics, but I will discuss one especially affecting scene behind the spoiler tags below.
(Spoiler - click to show)The scene that especially got me was early-ish in the work, when you play as a father whose task is to go outside and retrieve his daughter (who we learn is Alley, the focus of the work overall) for bedtime. You can choose a number of options, either telling her to come inside right off the bat, or prolonging the conversation, discussing some of the finer details of astrophysics. As a father of a young daughter myself, this scene absolutely devastated me. By this point, the astute player can start to see that something ominous is heading for Alley, and so this time is all the more precious for the father. I wanted to keep the conversation going indefinitely, though the astute player also can see that there's really only one outcome for this scene -- bedtime will have to come at some point. By the end of this scene, I was not only in tears, but knew that I was in the midst of a truly special work of IF.
If you haven't played this game, stop reading these reviews and play it! Like a tightly written short story, you can engage with Photopia in a brief span of time, though it will stick with you long, long after.