Photopia

by Adam Cadre profile

Slice of life
1998

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Good writing but to what end?, February 20, 2024
by witchcock (Gainesville, FL)

Great writing. Not sure where it was supposed to have gone, ending felt abrupt and didn't really feel like I'd done much except follow along.

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- Wallace, February 18, 2024

- lunaterra (GA, USA), February 11, 2024

- Rastagong, February 8, 2024

- LayeringYellow, January 1, 2024

- itschloe (Texas), December 26, 2023

- anavina, December 23, 2023

- Max Fog, November 17, 2023

- aluminumoxynitride, October 29, 2023

- Smallgoth (Seattle, Washington), October 12, 2023

- Arioch, October 7, 2023

- jonathanhuston, September 17, 2023

- fruitofwisdom (Charlotte, NC), August 15, 2023

- Drew Cook (Acadiana, USA), July 26, 2023

- thesleuthacademy, June 28, 2023

- Beable, June 11, 2023

Brass Lantern

[...] the overall layout of the story appears to be a complex weave, where you travel along the thread as it makes its way in one direction, turns around and comes back, crossing the previous parts of the weave and then continues. [...] In summary, this game is like an interactive story nestled inside another. A russian doll. A woven russian doll at that.

You wrote this review - Revise it | Direct link | Add a comment

>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

The colors, like everything else in Photopia, worked beautifully, adding artfully to the overall impact of the story. The work is interactive in other important ways as well. In fact, in many aspects Photopia is a metanarrative about the medium of interactive fiction itself. Again, it wasn't until the end of the story that I understood why it had to be told as interactive fiction. And again, to explain the reason would be too much of a spoiler. I have so much more I want to talk about with Photopia, but I can't talk about it until you've played it. Go and play it, and then we'll talk. I promise, you'll understand why everyone has been so impatient. You'll understand why I loved it, and why I think it's one of the best pieces of interactive fiction ever to be submitted to the competition.

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- Hikari Starshine, May 17, 2023

- elysee, April 24, 2023

- Hugginnn, April 20, 2023

- Kastel, April 5, 2023

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Awesome UI., April 1, 2023
by Cygnus (Australia)

This game was pretty!! Really pretty. I should replay it, so I can see what the commenters were talking about, but first playthrough… very pretty. Use of colour is very smart, parsers all work, kinda sorta linear. Plot and worldbuilding is honestly top notch.

Again, hard to find fault with this one. Doesn’t need a map, because its various worlds are small enough, hints are either provided or not needed, so many dialogue options, feels…

I think this game had sound? Either way, it was super visually pleasing and mind-scratching in a good way. Kept me going, kept playing, and the atmosphere was awesome.

I’ll come back to this after I’ve replayed it to get the actual, like, feels that commenters were talking about. For now, it’s chilling at 4.5 stars (0.5 deducted for if I’d play it again; I’m only replaying it because the commenters were raving about it. Once I finish, I’ll probably up it to a 5.)

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- ilyu, April 1, 2023

- Jaded Pangolin, February 10, 2023

- kawzeg, January 21, 2023

- TCWT, January 13, 2023

- SirIgnotus (Somewhere, probably.), January 3, 2023

- VanishingSky (Nanjing, China), December 17, 2022

- aech, November 3, 2022

- vivian rabbit, October 21, 2022

- RonFromPgh, October 16, 2022

- sw3dish, October 13, 2022

- Cerfeuil (Happy 2024!), October 11, 2022

- TagoMago69, October 6, 2022

- NorkaBoid (Ohio, USA), September 26, 2022

- SharpNaif, September 24, 2022

- purplepoet01, August 18, 2022

- Kinetic Mouse Car, August 4, 2022

- thesacredbagel, July 25, 2022

- Amun100 (UK), July 25, 2022

- Bell Cyborg (Canada), July 1, 2022

- TheBoxThinker, June 21, 2022

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- jgkamat, June 17, 2022

- rowan.du, April 30, 2022

- lleon, April 19, 2022

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Short, simple, unique IF. Everyone should try it., January 28, 2022
by Cody Gaisser (Florence, Alabama, United States of America, North America, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way, Known Universe, ???)

The narrative content of Photopia is what I'd call a "good little story." It's not the most mindblowingly deep thing I've ever read; but it has some heart, humanity, and empathy to it. To me this in itself is more than adequate compensation for the very brief amount of time it takes to play through to the end.

The real reason to play, however, is the way this "good little story" is told. Unfortunately this is difficult to explain without spoilers - even formal aspects of the storytelling and interface present twists that are best experienced firsthand. Learning-what-Photopia-is-about is what Photpia is about.

(Spoiler - click to show)
The presentation of Photopia differs in a number of ways from traditional text adventures. It tells a very short, simple story. However you play not as a single character navigating a geographical space as the story unfolds before you in a chronologically-linear fashion; rather you experience chronologically-ambiguous fragments of the story from the perspectives of several different characters, piecing the story together as you go. The central story is set in a reality much like our own, but a fantastical side plot is introduced via a storytelling device reminiscent of The Princess Bride, The Fall, and several of Terry Gilliam's films. Certain scenes alter the color scheme of the display in ways relevant to the game's thematic content, cleverly weaving a (non-graphical) visual element into the formal tapestry of this text-based story-game. Photopia's unconventional approach to the form of IF suggests future possibilities in the medium.


While I wouldn't necessarily recommend Photopia to someone who has no experience whatsoever with traditional IF, it is easily simple enough for a beginner's second or third game. It's also unique enough that more experienced players will certainly not want to miss it.

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- civilstat (Maine, USA), October 21, 2021

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Fascinating story, limited gameplay, October 14, 2021
by mg51
Related reviews: four stars

It's a captivating story that unfolds in a way that makes more sense as you go, leading you to understand the characters and their relationships to each other. I went into my first playthrough completely blind, so my understanding was absolutely zero when I started and the first few sections made no sense whatsoever, but this didn't at all take away from my experience. It made it more rewarding when I began putting pieces together.

The game's only weak point is that it is more of a story than a game, and interactivity mostly comes down to different choices of dialogue. I understand that this was a choice on the creator's part, and I definitely still recommend giving it a play-through, but it's best to be aware going in that you're going to get a non-traditional, non-linear story rather than an interactive adventure with puzzles.

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- Malasana, October 9, 2021

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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.

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- doodlelogic, August 19, 2021

- declain, August 18, 2021

- autumnc, August 1, 2021

- Hellzon (Sweden), July 1, 2021

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Well-plotted fiction, June 18, 2021
by Wynter (London, UK)

I appreciated Photopia above all as a short story. Alley's life is told through the medium of brief sections of text, presented out of chronological order, and not from her own perspective, but from the perspective of different people in her life. As in some of the short stories of Alice Munro, the reader takes these different fragments of time and pieces them together.

The framed sections, in coloured text, are outside of this world altogether: strange, imaginary landscapes. How do they relate to the main story? The reader has to figure it out. And the final scene reveals - to us, but not the main character - the ultimate source of these stories.

I found myself wanting more from the framed stories: there was enough description of the various fantasy landscapes to get me interested, but if they had been described in more detail, and allowed more "examine" responses, I would have been more interested in these parts. They may have benefited from some more complex puzzles. When I did get stuck, such as in the crystal maze, it wasn't the 'good stuck' feeling that comes from untangling something brainteasing.

The final revelation was an excellent twist. It made me wish the whole game was somewhat longer and more fully realised: we should be feeling that Alley is haunted by this buried memory, that it has been a part of her for her whole life and yet she doesn't know what it is.

I don't find myself as moved by Photopia as many other people do, even though it is obviously about a tragic event: I'd like the air of mystery and wonder to be greater, and for Alley's inner feelings to be explored in more depth (if that is possible, considering that it goes for the clever device of describing her through other people's eyes). But I can at least see the potential for a moving story in it.

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- knockupwood, June 18, 2021

- proxyfeathers, April 27, 2021

- Cingulomanic, April 19, 2021

- yleaf, April 14, 2021

- Karlok (Netherlands), April 14, 2021

- Chin Kee Yong (Singapore), April 11, 2021

- starlitevenings, March 13, 2021

- arslonga, March 12, 2021

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Sweet, sad, funny fiction with few puzzles, December 12, 2020
by dvs

I first played Photopia about 15 years ago and cried at the ending. It took me a while to figure out how the different vignettes fit together and it hit me hard. I had never experienced such emotion playing a silly text adventure. I will always love that about Photopia.

I played the game last night over Zoom with my sister and her two adult sons, introducing them to their first IF experience. They quickly found the boundaries of the interpreter and explored. (What happens if I go north forever? Can I "x up"? How come I can't use this verb which is in the sentence above?) In the end they enjoyed it describing it as a choose-your-own-adventure book or the tabletop role-playing game Expedition.

There are so many clever bits I saw the second time through, how the game feels huge and open and yet is really just railroading through the story. They found rooms I hadn't found in my first playthrough which was a delight. They figured out to just hit "z" when it was clear their actions had no affect (rather than trying to speak to the NPCs). There was one moment when they accidentally hit something and started the next "chapter" before finishing reading the end of the previous vignette. There's no way to go back or scroll up to see what they missed. (We were playing the web version at iplayif.com.)

They want to play another game together sometime over Zoom. (Not the Z-code interpreter.) Thank you, Adam Cadre, for bringing us long-distance joy!

Note: this review is based on older version of the game.
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- Ola (Sweden), December 3, 2020

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Poor little game, November 15, 2020

I've played this game and I expected more of it. Its an totally directed game, you can read coloured text and nothing more.

Regards.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A game which deserves his fame, October 28, 2020

Adam Cadre made a brilliant use of Inform device, using it in a story with two kind of fictional worlds : in white, various points of view on a young girl's life, told in a non-linear order, and in colors, various adventures of an explorer , told this way in linear order.

Of course, the non-linear points of view gradually begin to order in the player's head, and the colored adventures appear to be (Spoiler - click to show)dreams made by the young girl, related to a LCD device.

Finally, despite sometimes verbose parts, the story reaches a true emotional strength, which goes beyond that a classical Inform game could ordinary reach.

This strength rely precisely on the game structure rather on the sole topic ((Spoiler - click to show)the death of a young child), avoiding the melodramatic trap in which a classical structure may have falled.

So this game is really worth his fame (especially for people who ordinary enjoy Twine games).

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A must-play for anyone into IF, October 5, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: 1-2 hours

First off, is this the greatest piece of IF of all time as it was ranked so a few years ago? I don't know about that. Currently I'm only giving it 4 stars (though that may change with another play-through), and since I have at least one other game already rated as 5 stars I guess I don't consider it the best of all time. That said this is a truly great work and something that everyone should play-through at least once. There really aren't any game aspects to it, you are just walking yourself through a story. But the story is so immersive and the way the interactivity is used really draws you in. And there are a few magical moments that just wouldn't have been the same without the interactive part, that wouldn't have felt the same just reading it. It really did open up new possibilities in IF and really lives out its own classic line: "Let's tell a story together."

I'd recommend playing the Glulx version to allow the author's use of color to enhance the story.

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- William Chet (Michigan), July 19, 2020

- Xuan Li, July 5, 2020

- Arrowhead12 (Edmonton, Alberta), June 11, 2020

- quackoquack, June 10, 2020

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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Inspirational, January 29, 2020

This is one of the first adventure games I played, and soon I understood the potential of the genre. How he plays with colour, voices, time... it's inspirational.

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- Rovarsson (Belgium), December 3, 2019

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
I guess this was groundbreaking?, December 3, 2019

Photopia is fun to read, but it's not a masterpiece or anything. Apparently in 1998 the idea that we could use a text-based medium to tell a story was a huge deal, and that "wow" moment is what got the game on so many "greatest of all time" lists. Coming into it from my perspective, though, one where IF as ebook with some stray interactive elements is just as common as IF as game or puzzle, this is basically just, yeah, one more IF as ebook. Pretty good. Not amazing.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
I may have played this game too late..., November 14, 2019

Over the next couple of days I intend to write on IFDB reviews of some IF games I have fond memories of. I am hopeful that recentness of play is not mandated on this site, since I will be reviewing from memory games I played years or decades ago.

Photopia, even when I played it back around 2000 or thereabouts, was already incredibly lionized as a masterpiece. Thus even back then I was given reason to be somewhat sceptical of it. I never had the immediacy of response to this game that I did to, say, So Far by Plotkin, or even Cadre's own Varicella. In effect, the ultimate "spoiler" was merely this game's reputation. Besides, by the time I decided to give Photopia a try I was already familiar with the fact that IF could be literary and immersive. I was somewhat beyond being surprised.

Photopia is entirely literary; it is effectively IF as pure literature. Therefore it stands and falls simply on its literary merit. Now, most negative reviewers of Photopia seem to accuse it of being written in the style of a teenage geek of the era. Without knowing anything of Mr Cadre's background, I agree that there is an aspect of immaturity of vision in the writing. This I noticed even though I was a teenager myself when I played it. I am still not sure the extent to which this damages the tale from a literary standpoint. It could be argued that the main character (Spoiler - click to show) is dead throughout the entire game and is merely reflecting back on her short life; since she died as a teenager, some teenage narcissism, immaturity and morbidity is perhaps to be expected.

I never particularly admired that aspect of the game - Ally herself, I mean. However, I was always intrigued by the final scene of the game. Most reviews on this game seem to complain that there is no ending. But there is an ending; and it still intrigues me thinking back on it later; the dreadful and haunting image of the(Spoiler - click to show) infant Ally being introduced to the photopia in the first place. There is something so creepy about this ending that I sometimes reflect on it even now. Clearly the photopia (Spoiler - click to show) has affected the child Ally deeply, to a degree that she presumably has no conscious memory of when she grows up. Yet those coloured lights contaminate every aspect of the story; showing that in some way Ally is changed by something that is beyond her conscious memory. This aspect alone - the idea that our soul may be built on long-forgotten foundations in early childhood, is fascinating enough. But I would go further.

Indeed, similarly to the bizarre ending of Shade by Andrew Plotkin, I always interpreted the ending of Photopia as follows. (Spoiler - click to show)The parents, in providing the photopia to the infant Ally, have unwittingly created a kind of Tibetan Book Of The Dead for the girl. That is, through the entire story Ally is already dead and waiting to be reincarnated. She is reflecting back on her own life through the prism of the photopia as best she can. This requires seeing everything that has happened in the multiple coloured lights of the device.

For example, I interpret the famous "crystal maze" as(Spoiler - click to show) the dead Ally reflecting on the windscreen shattering across her face. Indeed, the infant Ally is a dead soul dreaming of her short life and awaiting rebirth.

This one aspect of the story is enough, in my opinion, to forgive all manner of shortcomings in characterisation and possible immaturity of tone. I think that many people have fundamentally misunderstood the point of the story, to which there are enough clues in the cryptic ending.

Despite the above, I honestly couldn't say that I loved this game as much as other IF. As I say, I was probably less impressed than I might have been had I played this game first.

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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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- beecadee, September 15, 2019

- Whom (Wisconsin, United States), August 22, 2019

- jjsonick, August 17, 2019

- Kommissar Verboten, July 1, 2019

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Generational, May 27, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

I just finished Photopia for the second time, almost twenty years after my first playthrough. I worried that time or perspective would change my opinion, and while that did indeed happen, it remains a treasure I will still recommend to anyone who delves into the world of interactive fiction.

When I first played I was about 20 years old and was mostly moved by the big dramatic moments. Like others have mentioned, time has led me to find these somewhat manipulative, lacking depth. The character of Alley in particular doesn't move me any longer, though I reject that she is a Mary-Sue. We don't see her flaws, though I believe this is because we only see her through the eyes of others who have no reason to highlight her flaws. On this playthrough then I was moved by the characters around Alley, her parents especially (perhaps being the parent of a daughter now helps that). The best parts of Photopia are the ones that don't move the story, where you learn more about everyone through the conversation system or by examining the world around you. The only part I actively disliked was the scene from Alley's suitor, who is nothing but a trope here.

Beyond the characters, I am still amazed at the technical skills on display. The dynamic maps during the bedtime story sections are amazing. Cadre also does a wonderful job of pushing the player through the game at the perfect pace in order to tell his story. While this could have worked as static fiction, I believe the medium improves immersion.

Even with its now recognizable flaws, I remain very fond of this work and will hopefully play it with my children when they are old enough.

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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
This game is like a Russian doll, May 15, 2019
by suchamazingdoge (Austin, Texas)

Basically, this game is a bunch of stories that tie into each other, and work to make one single story. A story within a story, like a Russian doll.

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- UmbrellaPie, May 5, 2019

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- elias67, March 11, 2019

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- Steffan LW Sitka (Los Angeles), February 28, 2019

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Good., April 21, 2018
by ChristopherTheSinner (Illinois )
Related reviews: Hint

I'm still working on finishing the game, but so far i felt there were a couple things to mention. The game is pretty fun, can be a little confusing at times though. The main thing i want to say here though, for the people struggling on the maze- and i know you are -the walk-through is wrong for that part. this isn't really a spoiler, but i'll hide it as a spoiler. it's more of a hint if you cant figure out the maze. (Spoiler - click to show) you cannot go up twice and down twice. I don't want to give a spoiler for the solution, but lets just say you don't actually WALK OUT of the maze. I like to think of it as more of a dream like moment- though i can't say if it is a dream or if it's something that's happening, i just prefer to think of it as a dream-like situation -Don't assume all you can do is walk out of the maze. what would you do if it was your dream? how would you get out? I hope that helps the people struggling with the maze. Besides that, I found the game intriguing and fun to piece together, though the ending was sort of bland and disappointing. It felt as if it should have had at least one or two more scenes, though i wont go into detail because i don't want to spoil the game.

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- Arctic Kona (Great White North), April 19, 2018

- csitrin, April 16, 2018

- Stas, March 26, 2018

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- 1PainfulPocket, January 10, 2018

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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
sentimental drivel, poor writing, but brilliant use of the medium, October 24, 2017

I really wanted to enjoy this. As far as I understand it, the game was fairly groundbreaking use of the medium at the time. As it stands now, I would not recommend this piece to anyone I would want to get interested in interactive fiction. The writing is genuinely bad, the overall theme of the story feels like someone beating you over the head with cheap emotional shots, and it isn't very interactive at all- text heavy and slow to move into anything resembling action. I have trouble understanding why so many have resonated with this piece, why there's a sense of reverence around it. I have a feeling it's related to timing on my part-and I don't wish to slam anyone who related to or was moved by the piece--I just can't see it.

The interwoven nature of the game is brilliant. I'm sure it is, because everyone has said so. But in my opinion, this is a really good example of telling, not showing.

Cadre's other works are breathtaking, so I will say that I feel I must be missing something-- the rave reviews regarding this work make me want to understand the appeal.

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- jakomo, September 21, 2017

- xochie, September 18, 2017

- enkaye (usa), September 1, 2017

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- gilhova, July 19, 2017

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Thoroughly disappointing, July 11, 2017

At the beginning of the game, there is a sense of intrigue: shifting perspectives are used to spiral around a single character, building up hype for a grand conclusion. The story's direction and pacing is held on a tighter leash than in your average IF game. At first, this was exciting. However, it soon became clear that the plot was headed nowhere.

While the story was outright bad, the storytelling just failed to live up to its potential. Exploration was frustrating. Although the puzzles are easy, when I couldn't figure out what to do, it became maddening very quickly due to the bleak, dull and unresponsive environments. However, these worlds were still the most interesting part of the game.

The game can be ultimately seen as a character study. The main character is a pretty, creative, nice, mysterious, hardworking, middle-class girl with a nice family who is loved by everyone around her, and faces no meaningful challenges. She is also not only smart, but a genius. I hated this character. I could not believe in her struggle. Throughout every scene with her I inwardly pleaded the writer to give her some dialogue or trait that I could actually connect with, but this never happened -- almost everyone else in the story existed to further highlight how wonderful she is. Parts of her life read like a bad teen movie. Since the whole game revolves around such a nondescript, almost mythical figure, I couldn't bring myself to like the game.

Nonetheless, I would have appreciated it in hindsight if it went somewhere thematically. But sadly, (Spoiler - click to show)I predicted the story's ending very near to the start -- which made everything tedious. I resented the lazy attempts at emotion, I resented the (Spoiler - click to show)fact that Ally died in a car crash of all things -- the most cliche and unimaginative sort of death, and not even the most likely, as if good people can only die in random car crashes -- and I resented the characterization of Rob as a textbook villain, as this took the away any philosophical meaning that could have been gleaned from the event. The (Spoiler - click to show)lack of an ending was the final nail in the coffin for me.

To be fair, this game is technically fine. I would have dismissed it as "decent" had I played it at the time of its release, with lowered expectations. But playing it today, I oscillated between feeling bored and irritated, curious and let down. You might like it if you are an absolute beginner to the medium, or if you are easily moved by sob stories, but otherwise, don't get your hopes up.

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- Targor (Germany), June 4, 2017

- ly2000, June 4, 2017

- Cory Roush (Ohio), June 3, 2017

- Kyriakos Sgarbas (Hellas (Greece)), May 25, 2017

- Doug Orleans (Somerville, MA, USA), April 3, 2017

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Beautiful, March 18, 2017
by RottenSnail
Related reviews: beginner, short, easy, narrative

Photopia is a beautiful game and is relatively short, so I would recommend it to anyone who has a few minutes here and there, whether they're beginners or not. The imagery is wonderful and good use was made of the colored text. I was hooked from the very first scene. The game has a mystery aspect to it because the story will completely shift once in a while and the player is left wondering how the scenes relate to one another.

This game is more fiction than interaction, but that did nothing to hinder my enjoyment of it. The player input is often in the form of multiple choice, and I don't think there's ever really a wrong option. I assume the game would progress the same way no matter what choices the player makes, but I would play along with it for maximum enjoyment.

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- pox, March 18, 2017

- Pegbiter (Malmö, Sweden), February 14, 2017

- lkdc, February 11, 2017

- TheAncientOne, January 28, 2017

- John of Thornwick, January 11, 2017

- imelda, December 29, 2016

- piffling-paka (State College, Pennsylvania), December 6, 2016

- Christopher Hall (London, Great Britain), October 27, 2016

- jeffhos, October 13, 2016

- mstahl, August 18, 2016

- BinkleyBeardman, August 4, 2016

- eyeballkidable, July 17, 2016

- T.M. Biernatinho, July 14, 2016

- NinaS, July 3, 2016

- eli, June 29, 2016

- G_G, May 24, 2016

- Rollersnake (Rogers, AR), May 1, 2016

- Denk, April 17, 2016

- Matt Bates, March 28, 2016

- Mergath, February 26, 2016

- E. W. B., February 23, 2016

- sadcarnival (Australia), February 20, 2016

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A variety of genres rolled into a cohesive story. An influential IF game., February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

Photopia is often cited as the best interactive fiction of all time. It has won numerous awards, inspired a shift to story-centered Interactive Fiction, and so on.

It really is a great game. Despite all the hype, sitting down and playing through it is fun. The meta-puzzle of trying to understand what's going on keeps you going through different scenes. The different scenes give you the impression that you're playing a hard puzzle game while actually simplifying things without you knowing.

The colors are a good part of the game; if your interpreter doesn't support or if you are unable to distinguish between colors, you should use your imagination.

Is this really the best IF of all time? I honestly would have to say that nothing is really better than it. I don't replay it because it makes me sad. I like to stick to puzzle games or big crazy worlds. But this game has substance and meaning.

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- wojnarabc, January 13, 2016

- KennaM (Southern California), January 8, 2016

- Oreolek (Kemerovo, Russia), January 8, 2016

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Short, unique, and relatively on-rails, December 18, 2015

Likes:
-Not frustrating. The lack of challenging puzzles and presence of an adequate parser and adequate descriptions made it so I didn't encounter any frustrating moments.

-Non-linear storytelling makes things a bit more interesting than if this story were told in a linear fashion as you learn more about the story and piece it together yourself. This approach is not without its problems, though (see dislikes).

-Short. Even if you don't find this to be the most amazing thing ever, it's so short that you probably won't really feel worse off for having played it.

-Use of images and color. It's not particularly flashy, but it's a nice break from typically monochrome IF.

Dislikes:
-Not particularly exciting or touching. The story is quite short, so I don't really have time to develop an attachment to the characters. I don't blame the game for a lack of characterization, I just feel like I need more time with the characters in order to care more about them. Maybe it's my fault for not letting myself get drawn in, but I suspect the non-linear nature of the story also made it a little harder to get drawn in to caring about it. I sure did care about that wolf, though (I have that not uncommon habit of caring more about animals than actual people).

-Not particularly challenging. There aren't really puzzles in this game. I like the sense of accomplishment I get from solving puzzles, so in that regard this game isn't as fun as other games that do have puzzles. I don't think puzzles really fit with the theme of the game, but I can't help myself having a desire to overcome challenges.

-On rails. I didn't get a sense that the presence of a parser and text-based interaction really enhanced the story.

Conclusion
Overall, I recommend giving this game a play due to how short it is. Other than that, I don't think it's as exciting or remarkable an experience as I've gotten from other games. I've come to expect a high level of stimulation and engagement from playing too many video games, though.

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- Aryore, December 13, 2015

- Ashen_, December 12, 2015

- tearingdownthewall, December 3, 2015

- deskoft, December 1, 2015

- paulmr, November 11, 2015

- bignose (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), November 7, 2015

- Catalina, November 4, 2015

- KingofSushi, October 12, 2015

- nonnamethankyou, September 29, 2015

- brian.j.sanders, September 29, 2015

- Harry Coburn (Atlanta, GA), August 14, 2015

- Sophie Grimaud (France), August 2, 2015

- leanbh, July 30, 2015

- Emdistal (Muncie, Indiana), July 30, 2015

- aom, July 20, 2015

- Julia Myer (USA), July 11, 2015

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Photopia review, July 5, 2015
by Cder

An amazing and touching game. Once you realize what all of the seemingly disconnected events have in common with one another, it will be quite the shock. Most of the events are told in different perspectives, all tying together into one specific event, and you will recognize said event when it reveals itself. 5/5, would play again.

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- thebloopatroopa, May 28, 2015

- Jens Leugengroot (Germany), May 25, 2015

- wildj79 (Dallas, TX), May 18, 2015

- LaFey (Porto, Portugal), April 24, 2015

- NiMuSi (London, UK), April 11, 2015

- CMG (NYC), April 6, 2015

- Mike Root, March 23, 2015

- Keiya, March 15, 2015

- Thrax, March 11, 2015

- Asherred, February 27, 2015

- Matt W (San Diego, CA), February 19, 2015

- prevtenet (Texas), February 15, 2015

- hoopla, February 15, 2015

- besmaller (Portland, OR), January 28, 2015

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Integrated graphical effects and strong emotional impact, January 19, 2015

Photopia has been an influential game. The amount of interactivity is small, but the story drives the game along. As has been mentioned, the emotional impact should really be classed as manipulative, but it is effectively done. The author manages to put the player into the skin of a number of different roles and also to make the reader identify with characters at different stages of their lives.

The underlying "story within a story" is pitch-perfect. Probably because it appeals to the wish fulfillment natural to games (or gamers?). The outcome of the game ends up being telegraphed about half way through, but this leads to the emotional punch and drive of the narrative. From then on, it unfolds remorselessly.

The greatness of the game is its ability to remain in mind after one has played it and yet be fresh on replay.

An important game. Emotional reactions will differ, but I would categorize it as touching. (Spoiler - click to show)Few mazes are as satisfying as the one in Photopia. We all have wings...

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- openmedi (Berlin, Germany), January 17, 2015

- Jallarial, January 16, 2015

- morlock, January 14, 2015

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Fantastic color themed game!, January 10, 2015
by Chai Hai (Kansas City KS)

I loved this! I loved how each part was themed by a color, and finding how everything fit together was really well done.

Having random words defined in parenthesis irritated me at first, but later on it was part of the charm. In the end, that became my favorite POV.

I've always been a fan of multiple perspective games, watching the story unfold from various perspectives and piecing everything together is always enjoyable for me. This game does it beautifully.

Beautiful game. Marvelous.

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- Iakampa (Poland), January 7, 2015

- dutchmule, December 23, 2014

- BlitzWithGuns, December 5, 2014

- VarunG (Mumbai, India), November 15, 2014

- Janice M. Eisen (Portland, Oregon), November 10, 2014

- siquis (Scotland), November 7, 2014

- EllaClass, November 5, 2014

- Witchy W, October 20, 2014

- Khalisar (Italy), October 4, 2014

16 of 21 people found the following review helpful:
Eh...I feel like I'm missing something., September 24, 2014
by akaisha0 (Omaha, Nebraska)

I feel like this game is entirely lost on me. I saw this on so many top lists and read so many fantastic reviews I had to give it a try and I admit my hopes were far higher than they should have been. This game was a colossal let down for me. I make it no secret that I prefer text adventures to "interactive fiction" but I felt this offered me neither. I appreciate that it tried (and succeeded) at doing something new with non-linear story telling with time and the wonderful use of color. But beyond that it was dull and uninteresting. This can't be called a game, a story, or even an experience. It just fails on all counts. Photopia is easily played in less than an hour and the hardest puzzle for me was trying to figure out how to exit the garage. This game is not interactive which would be fine if it told an interesting story, but it failed on that count too. In the beginning you're led through disjointed tales under the assumption they will likely culminate into a larger scheme. The problem is..they really don't. You can infer a reasonable bit by the end of how it all pieces together but it leaves entirely too much to the imagination and gave me absolutely no reason to care. I didn't care for any of the characters or situations, I kept playing out of the assumption this was going somewhere and it didn't. This story was beyond a let down. It has so many wonderful reviews and I can't tell if I'm just not pretentious enough to see it for what it is or if I just saw through it for what it was: a dull, lifeless, uninteresting, "story". It wasn't a game, it was hardly a story. I think you should play it to judge for yourself. I think it stands as an important piece of interactive fiction history and certainly influenced games that would come after it but..even as a catalyst for a brighter future of IF games, I can't praise it.

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- Matthew Darby (London, United Kingdom), September 20, 2014

- Sobol (Russia), September 12, 2014

- danbergam, September 5, 2014

- secretgeeksociety, September 4, 2014

- Pinstripe (Chicago, Illinois), August 29, 2014

- sasq (Stockholm, Sweden), August 26, 2014

- nosferatu, August 21, 2014

- blue/green, July 16, 2014

- dgeyer, June 1, 2014

- Caleb Wilson (Illinois), May 24, 2014

- tekket (Česká Lípa, Czech Republic), May 5, 2014

- HappyDooder (New Zealand), April 19, 2014

- Taffer, April 18, 2014

- shornet (Bucharest), March 23, 2014

- Deychrome, March 20, 2014

- Lorxus, March 8, 2014

- Jonas Kyratzes (The Lands of Dream), February 28, 2014

- 10CallClear, February 11, 2014

- Kendi, February 3, 2014

- Katrisa (Houston), January 28, 2014

- francisthe3rd (Horseheads, NY), January 23, 2014

- Simon Deimel (Germany), January 19, 2014

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Masterful, January 18, 2014
by scottmbruner (alameda, california)

Putting aside technical criticisms, Photopia clearly succeeds in its artistic ambitions - to create an immersive, emotional resonant experience by using IF elements to build intimacy with a touching, devastating tale. Revelatory.

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- ajacks01, November 29, 2013

- bigotitos, November 8, 2013

- N.C. Hunter Hayden, October 30, 2013

- grainne6, October 25, 2013

- verityvirtue (London), October 14, 2013

- Adam Myers, September 19, 2013

- Indigo9182, August 14, 2013

- Egas, August 12, 2013

- Enrique, July 31, 2013

- Guillaume Voisine (Montréal), July 17, 2013

- Ghalev (Northern Appalachia, United States), June 3, 2013

- Gluon, May 9, 2013

- Kuffen Bach (Brno), May 7, 2013

- absentsock, April 27, 2013

- Dr. Fleming (Torrent, Valencia), April 13, 2013

- morphy_richards, April 7, 2013

- Floating Info, April 3, 2013

- Stier, March 29, 2013

- Edward Lacey (Oxford, England), March 10, 2013

- ptkw, March 3, 2013

- dk101 (London, UK), March 2, 2013

- DJ (Olalla, Washington), February 5, 2013

- SaraG, February 2, 2013

- Stewjar (USA), January 29, 2013

- Cab, January 27, 2013

- drumsfellow, January 13, 2013

- Fantacide (California), December 31, 2012

- StrawberryFields (DC Area), December 17, 2012

- Brianna, December 5, 2012

- Artran (Prague, Czech Republic), November 24, 2012

- Sdn (UK), November 6, 2012

- Puddin Tame (Queens, NY), October 31, 2012

- bluevelvetwings, October 5, 2012

- AADA7A, September 19, 2012

- ikv, September 16, 2012

- Lubulos, September 10, 2012

- platy, September 10, 2012

- Gravalax, September 8, 2012

- Jordan Magnuson (Corvallis, Oregon), August 26, 2012

- aenimus, August 24, 2012

- lastplaneout (Boone, NC), August 12, 2012

- Petrichor, August 8, 2012

- Inarcadia Jones, August 2, 2012

- Amy (Upstate NY), July 21, 2012

- Molly (USA), June 26, 2012

- Peloquin, June 16, 2012

- rec53, June 9, 2012

- dingo (New England), June 4, 2012

- aoizumi, May 31, 2012

- kala (Finland), May 25, 2012

- Dudley Dipstick, May 20, 2012

- Orivej Desh, May 12, 2012

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- EJ, April 30, 2012

- stadtgorilla (Munich, Germany), April 17, 2012

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
A Curiosity, But Perhaps Not A Masterpiece, March 24, 2012
by Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.)
Related reviews: adam cadre, fantasy

Play it if: you have a thing for IF that treats itself as a linear story rather than a game, for this is by its very conception one of the least interactive entries into the genre; and if you're big on "emotional" stories in your IF.

Don't play it if: if the line between drama and melodrama is just too fine for you, because Photopia is chock-full of whimsy, abrupt tone shifts, and strongly communicated emotion.

There's very little one can meaningfully say about Photopia that hasn't already been said. This has to be one of the least interactive works of IF in existence - the format is actually used more as a way to give cinematic effects to literature. Most of the time you're doing the equivalent of tapping the SPACE key and moving things along.

What takes the place of interactivity is the weight of narrative: the emphasis is firmly on the "fiction" aspect here, presenting a number of interrelated scenarios revolving around a single subject.

While the concept is interestingly done - and as has been said before, has some historically groundbreaking traits - Photopia leaves me a little cold because the writing, the aspect of this work that's supposed to take up the slack from the interactivity, feels decidedly average.

Don't get me wrong: Cadre's writing is fairly decent, and he can evoke images quite well in his description of things. (Spoiler - click to show)The way the car crash is described from the driver's point of view has details that give the experience a bit of visceral punch. The description of the crystalline maze was also evocative. The problem is that the subject of the narrative (Spoiler - click to show)(Alley) seems to have very little in the way of a genuine arc (Spoiler - click to show)besides just growing up, which reduces the subject's depth and makes the story as a whole feel less fulfilling. (Spoiler - click to show)Of course these things happen, and it's tremendously sad when they do, but it is the work of the storyteller to find solace in lending meaning to these kinds of tragedies. That Alley's death is the kind of awful twist that could happen to any of us is true enough, but as far as meaning goes it's rather mundane. There are also several passages where the writing is at risk of becoming overwrought (Spoiler - click to show)with the passage where Jon asks Alley out feeling overwritten, and the treatment of her curiosity and intelligence making her feel a bit like a Mary Sue character. In particular, the fact that the game wanted me to believe Alley's monologue on Freudian psychology to be a sign of genuine intellectual curiosity - when Freud's model was largely shelved a while before this game was written - really stuck out as an example of Alley being written simply as "smart". The view of the subject is also rather one-sided (Spoiler - click to show)Alley is given little in the way of flaws and as a result does come across as "too perfect".

I can understand why this story made certain readers cry, and I'm not calling them idiots for responding that way. It's just that for me personally, this story won't really stick with me on an emotional level due to the above issues. Ultimately, Photopia is better served by being upheld as an innovation on the IF concept than as a profoundly-written story - but it's still worth your time to play through it, as it offers insight into how IF tools can be used to lend cinematic effect to literature and to tinker with narrative structure.

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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Well worth a try!, March 24, 2012

The story is catchy and puzzling, you really wants to understand how the different episodes fit together. And in the end the solution is quite clever, even if a bit sad. You might describe it a puzzle-less. But it does have some puzzles and even a maze or two. So puzzle-light might be more correct. Some of the later parts of the game is a bit too illogically and with bad fairytale-feeling. But still a short and easy game well worth a try.

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- Narwhal (California), March 11, 2012

- Jizaboz (U.S.A.), March 11, 2012

- Domaknitrix (Virginia), March 6, 2012

- Emerald Rhapsody, March 5, 2012

- Relle Veyér, March 1, 2012

- Bran Rainey (Windsor, Ontario), February 26, 2012

- Hywel Dda, February 11, 2012

- knowyourknot, February 1, 2012

- E.K., January 27, 2012

- Hagbard Celine, January 26, 2012

- [delete this account], January 10, 2012

- Costis, January 2, 2012

- diddlescatter (US), January 1, 2012

- amciek (Opole), December 18, 2011

- Jaxcap (Arizona), December 11, 2011

- Nereare (São Paulo, Brazil), December 10, 2011

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Beautiful, December 6, 2011

In a word, this story is simply beautiful. Definitely a tear-jerker. Definitely heart-warming. I call this a story because while there is a puzzle element to it, it is not difficult. One action or just a few actions can quickly lead to the story's progression. This is a good beginner's game, but also one that will leave a lasting imprint on the mind.

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- sqbr, November 30, 2011

- Marco Innocenti (Florence, Italy), November 17, 2011

- sunny and mild (South Africa), October 4, 2011

- trojo (Huntsville, Alabama, USA), September 30, 2011

- Ann R. J., September 11, 2011

- heleneotroy (Washington, DC), September 8, 2011

- dacharya64, September 4, 2011

- Savaric (Sweden), August 31, 2011

- Hulk Handsome (Carmen Sandiago), August 23, 2011

- WaterMonkey314, August 1, 2011

- Digibomber, July 29, 2011

- Corwin71, July 9, 2011

- Nemansphere, June 27, 2011

- Shchekotiki, June 23, 2011

- David Kinder, June 7, 2011

- flamingoboots, May 24, 2011

- Rotonoto (Albuquerque, New Mexico), May 16, 2011

- Ollie (UK), May 12, 2011

- Mel Hython, May 11, 2011

- Charles Wickersham, April 27, 2011

- MKrone (Harsleben), April 26, 2011

- baywoof, April 25, 2011

- JasonMel (Florida), April 14, 2011

- Robb Sherwin (Colorado), April 4, 2011

- Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania), March 18, 2011

- JohnW (Brno, Czech Republic), March 16, 2011

- radax (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), March 2, 2011

- artao (SW Wisconsin), February 2, 2011

- Walter Sandsquish, February 2, 2011

- snickerdoddle, January 27, 2011

- A. P. Sillers (United States, East Coast), January 19, 2011

- r6144, January 19, 2011

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Lovely, January 10, 2011
by katz (Altadena, California)

The linear nature might turn off some players, but that also makes it a more truly story-like experience. Easily flowing narration (marred by the constant word definitions, which get tedious after a while) carry the whole thing along in a dreamlike manner.

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- LiudvikasT, January 8, 2011

- Callust (Michigan), January 2, 2011

- Carlo, December 27, 2010

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Brilliant, breathtaking, and deserving the praise. , December 21, 2010
by Aintelligence (Canada)

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. 

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- rootmos (Stockholm, Sweden), December 19, 2010

- lagran-G-an (Tel-Aviv, Israel), December 18, 2010

- mrplutonium, December 17, 2010

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Photopia is an example of the moving literature IF can be, December 6, 2010

Photopia is an example of the moving literature IF can strive toward. It is a remarkable game, moving story, and well thought out.

It is true that the story arc is rather linear, and there are few puzzles. However, I have no complaints about this. Books are completely linear and I find no fault with the work of Faulkner or Morrison or Shakespeare.

The changing point-of-view kept me on my toes the entire time and the end remained a surprise.

And yes, it made me cry too. the only IF to effect me that deeply emotionally.

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- GreenSnake, December 4, 2010

- Narcisse, November 26, 2010

- Softbagel, October 21, 2010

- Adam Rezich, October 11, 2010

- srh (Seattle, WA), September 26, 2010

- Brian Lavelle (Edinburgh, Scotland), September 12, 2010

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting story, not necessarily a great game, September 7, 2010
by ZUrlocker (Traverse City, Michgian)
Related reviews: easy, story, modern

Photopia is really more of a story than a game. It's interesting and it's compelling, but if you're looking for traditional IF gameplay, this might not be your cup of tea. There are no puzzles and not even many choices to be made. But when it all comes together, it works like a well-written short story. And you're gonna have an emotional reaction that you might not have expected.

Photopia definitely pushes the boundary of story-telling in a way that few could have predicted when Interactive Fiction was first introduced. In fact, I would say Photopia is best viewed as an experimental work whose impact is found in later works of IF by Cadre and others.

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- Clemency Jones (England), August 26, 2010

- Telvayne (Tennessee, USA), August 18, 2010

- Muskie, August 11, 2010

- Sneeze (Derby, UK), August 11, 2010

- Justin Morgan, August 8, 2010

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- Joel Webster (Madison, WI), July 26, 2010

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- karcher, July 11, 2010

- SarahTheEntwife (USA), July 6, 2010

- Sorrel, July 5, 2010

- Stickz (Atlanta, Georgia), June 23, 2010

- osofine, June 22, 2010

- strikemeyer (Atlanta, Georgia), June 12, 2010

- Yigit Akkok (Ankara, Turkey), June 3, 2010

- Masada, May 29, 2010

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Wow, May 20, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

I admit, I read the reviews first. I walked into this knowing that there would be little in the way of interactivity.

I've seen few IF games that are more IF, and less GAME. This is one, and it was done very well. Even switching amongst several POVs, the game ties it up nicely. Unfortunately, I figured out what was going on early, and tried to "defy fate", and found it was impossible.

The subject matter itself was varied. I found myself really interested in the space-travelling character, and found myself laughting at the things I took for granted about the character, only to discover that (Spoiler - click to show) she was an angel, not a human . The "other side" concerning Abbey, I found myself upset about, as the author clearly intended. It is a story that is told time and time again (Spoiler - click to show), the warning against drunk driving , but this one told it so well.

There are no puzzles in this game. The conversation is menu based and pretty straightforward. You can't NOT get through it, since it's more reading and less doing. Still, this is a wonderful attempt to use the medium of IF for storytelling, evolving it past the kleptomaniac adventurer puzzle solving that I see it in so much.

Definately worth a play, I mean read, I mean, definately worth looking at.

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- G.D. Lascelle (UK), May 19, 2010

- Patrick M. McCormick (United States), May 4, 2010

- LogopolisMike, April 28, 2010

- Christopher Bogs, April 11, 2010

- Azazel, April 2, 2010

- Danny Huss, March 12, 2010

- J. Francisco Martín (Spain), March 11, 2010

- Martinellis (California), March 1, 2010

- BladeL, February 27, 2010

- Danielle (The Wild West), February 19, 2010

- Sam Kabo Ashwell (Seattle), February 15, 2010

- Naerbnic (Santa Clara, CA), February 11, 2010

- Ioannis D., February 6, 2010

- Amy Kerns (Tucson, AZ), January 16, 2010

- schifter (Louisville, KY), January 15, 2010

- smurfas666 (Klaipeda, Lithuania), January 7, 2010

- loungeman (Bilbao, Spain), January 4, 2010

- Ken Hubbard (Ohio), December 23, 2009

- Grey (Italy), December 21, 2009

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
The pinnacle of interactive fiction, December 20, 2009
by Andreas Teufel (Poland)

Photopia. Real name, no gimmicks.

Story: absolutely entrancing all the time, while the real life segments are better than the story ones; there's some classic Adam Cadre humour ("maybe when you're older" :-)), shame he lost that later, but the main focus is on emotionality, and it totally works! after the end I was like WOW!, and that happened only one other time with an IF game (I-0)

Some other authors who think this is "manipulative" should have a good look in order to learn how to create interesting and likeable characters! It isn't wrong to DREAM, is it...?

Structure: now this is where the game shines

It took me some time to figure out certain things (even though it's mentioned right in the beginning ("let's tell a story together")) - when I finally realized why the complicated words are explained - magic moment!

Interactivity: rather basic, but it's worth looking for every possible response from the game

Replayability: also rather basic, the first time you play it is obviously the best

so what makes this game one of the best of all times: the emotional involvement, the revolutionary structure, and the content that is great all the time, there is some magic in it that cannot be explained with words

groundbreaking

5/5

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- jflower, December 18, 2009

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), December 7, 2009

- TempestDash (Cincinnati, Ohio), December 4, 2009

- Divide (Wroclaw, Poland), December 1, 2009

- Matt Wigdahl (Olathe, KS), November 13, 2009

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- lupusrex (Seattle, WA), October 4, 2009

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- ., March 3, 2009

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- Ben, February 10, 2009

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- Gemma Bristow, January 25, 2009

- Karl Ove Hufthammer (Bergen, Norway), January 12, 2009

- m1150, January 10, 2009

- Cheryl L (Australia), January 9, 2009

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- ensoul, November 15, 2008

- Stagrovin, November 10, 2008

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A Colorful Tale, November 5, 2008
by WriterBob (Richmond Hill, Ontario)

"Photopia," is an intriguing piece that makes great use of color.

The production value of this game is second to none. Typically I am a fan of the elegant simplicity of the plain text interface. I have gone through this work in black and white and in color with the *.z5 file. But by far the best experience is through the blorb file. The use of color is one of the subtle additions to Interactive Fiction.

Through the years, IF has grown beyond mere text. Even in the '80's, Infocom experimented with sound and graphics. Contemporary IF has available high quality graphics, sounds, music, and even colored text.

Without a compelling story, all of the added effects won't make a mediocre game good. The added effects of "Photopia," take an intriguing game and bring it to the next level.

The skill level needed to enjoy this work is minimal. This would be a perfect introduction to IF, especially for those who are coming into the game from a more literary background.

All in all, this is a fine piece of IF that's a pleasure to play.

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- Ikram (Swaziland), November 5, 2008

- Linnau (Tel-Aviv, Israel), October 31, 2008

- Tartalo, October 22, 2008

- Markus Peter (Regensburg, Germany), October 18, 2008

- ctgPi (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), October 13, 2008

- hywelhuws (Clynnog Fawr, Wales, UK), September 18, 2008

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- Ben Treat (Maine, USA), July 11, 2008

- Steven (Honolulu, Hawaii), July 4, 2008

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- Sarah Mitty (Ypsilanti, Michigan), June 2, 2008

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- felicitations, May 3, 2008

- Clare Parker (Portland, OR), April 22, 2008

- aaronius, April 14, 2008

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful:
Not quite the masterpiece it's often touted as, but still well worth playing, April 12, 2008
by Jimmy Maher (Oslo, Norway)

This is easily one of the half-a-dozen or so most important games of the modern IF era. Importance does not always equate directly with quality, however. I played it again recently out of a desire to know how it holds up a decade later.

Well, it still plays reasonably well, although it's by no means without problems. Most of the complaints one can level at the game have been discussed ad nauseum by this point: it is minimally interactive (often little more than a short story with occasional > prompts), absolutely linear, and offers its player no plot agency whatsoever. Just the idea of a puzzleless work was quite bold in 1998; in 2008, it's old hat, and thus Photopia must completely live or die on the strength of its story.

That story is a pretty good one, but doesn't move me to the extent it does some others. From a purely literary perspective, it's a bit heavy-handed and emotionally manipulative. Alley, the teenage girl at its emotional core, is more of a sentimentalized geek wish-fufillment fantasy ("She's beautiful and charming and she likes science!") than a believable character. Still, and even if Cadre's literary reach exceeds his grasp a bit, the story is head and shoulders above the sort of fantasy or sci-fi pastiche that still marks most IF even today. And there is one moment when the story and gameplay come together beautifully, a moment that still stands for me as one of the most magical in all IF: that perfect guess the verb puzzle in the crystal maze.

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- Hans Möller (Sweden), April 5, 2008

- brattish (Canada), April 3, 2008

- Catherine Daze, March 24, 2008

- lobespear, March 20, 2008

- bolucpap, March 19, 2008

- Aris Katsaris (Athens, Greece), March 17, 2008

- jfpbookworm (Hamburg, New York), February 25, 2008

- J. Robinson Wheeler (Austin, TX), February 22, 2008

- Interference (Oxford, England), February 14, 2008

- Ziixxxitria (California), February 10, 2008

- Squidi, February 1, 2008

- Dan Schmidt (Boston), January 31, 2008

- Michel Nizette (Brussels, Belgium), January 18, 2008

- frankpape (San Jose, California), January 18, 2008

- Matt Kimmel (Cambridge, MA), January 17, 2008

- onyx (Ann Arbor, Michigan), January 17, 2008

- incandenza (carrboro, north carolina), January 17, 2008

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
"Momento" as Interactive fiction, January 14, 2008
by somegirl (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

I'm not a big fan of "puzzle-less" games, but I did enjoy this game. Really, I'd have to say it was more like a short story than a game, but it was quite a *good* short story. I'd encourage anyone who plays it to settle in to do some reading, and talk to everyone you can - this is not the time to go rushing to the end. I especially liked seeing the plot lines weave together, it starts out quite disjointed, but everything fits together so snugly by the end, it takes your breath away a bit.

Serious spoilage (really, don't click if you haven't played yet)
(Spoiler - click to show) The really Wow! part for me? In the crystal labyrinth, when you discover you can fly - amazing. That was great.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting but disappointing, January 13, 2008
by Dannii (Australia)

As one of the first "puzzleless" IF works I tried, I certainly found it very interesting. The scene changes worked well, and with one "wow" and several "ahh" moments, Cadre really is quite the storyteller.

However I found the work really a bit of a disappointment. It was very short, and ended far earlier than I expected. Some scenes were timed and I didn't expect to be given much freedom, but in the other untimed scenes I found the world under-implemented. Most objects had short boring descriptions which often were not even for the object I wanted. And some were not even implemented:
(Spoiler - click to show)Among the ruins of the power plant
The power plant is in substantially worse shape than the living quarters, and considering that those were completely wrecked, that's saying something. Though the fissionable materials were specially packaged to prevent them from exploding, the Geiger counter in your suit indicates that this area is still very radioactive. (I'll explain that part later. For now let's just say it's very dangerous and you should probably be moving along.)

> x power plant
Nothing like that seems to be around.


That said, it was still a worthwhile experience. If you don't expect a full world to play with, this story will give you a lot.

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- Wendymoon, January 13, 2008

- tfbk, January 10, 2008

- Cendare, January 9, 2008

- fastfinge (Toronto, Canada), January 4, 2008

- Juhana, January 3, 2008

- oddgrue (California), December 30, 2007

- Gocho (Spain), December 22, 2007

- RichCheng (Warwickshire, UK), December 19, 2007

- Tyrog, December 14, 2007

- Miron (Berlin, Germany), December 11, 2007

- Neale Grant (Hove, England), December 6, 2007

- Isxek, December 4, 2007

- PSilk (London, UK), November 29, 2007

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- MattArnold (Ann Arbor, Michigan), November 24, 2007

- David Schweinsberg (Pasadena, California), November 21, 2007

- Leland Paul (Swarthmore, PA), November 19, 2007

- anj tuesday, November 18, 2007

- Benjamin Sokal (Elysium pod planting enclosure on Mars), November 14, 2007

- Wesley (Iowa City, Iowa), November 11, 2007

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent story-driven piece, November 9, 2007
by Kake (London, England)
Related reviews: Adam Cadre, *****

I really liked this one. The juxtaposition of the two storylines, the non-linear time progression, the use of different voices — all excellent.

The main story is a moving one; but the moment that I felt was the strongest, in the sense that it made me stop and go "oh wow, oh wow, oh wow", actually occurred in the story-within-a-story. It was a small thing, but it really got across one of the reasons why I should care deeply about the main character.

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- protobob, November 8, 2007

- Salamosam (Montreal), November 5, 2007

- Nusco (Bologna, Italy), October 31, 2007

- Steve Evans (Hobart, Tasmania), October 28, 2007

- Brian Slesinsky (California), October 27, 2007

- Stephen Bond (Leuven, Belgium), October 26, 2007

- aparrish (NYC), October 25, 2007

- zharris70 (New York City), October 25, 2007

- Pseudo_Intellectual (Vancouver, Canada), October 25, 2007

- Hauston (Seattle, WA), October 24, 2007

- zer, October 24, 2007

- Sami Preuninger (New York City), October 23, 2007

- Eriorg (Switzerland), October 22, 2007

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful:
Canonical, October 21, 2007

This is a work so hugely influential to IF development that anyone interested in the history of the form should try it: it experiments with non-linear presentation of time, menu-based conversation, and constrained game-play to support a specific plot. A number of its features look perfectly ordinary now, but were ground-breaking at the time. Photopia's particular form of menu conversation, for instance, was spun off into a library used in a number of other works.

How well does it work, beyond that? Opinions vary. Some people consider it the most moving piece of IF they've ever tried. I personally found it wavered between effective and manipulative, with the main character too saintly to be true. While it was worth playing, it is by no means my favorite piece of character-oriented IF story-telling.

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- robkun (London, UK), October 21, 2007

- Brian Campbell, October 21, 2007

- Michael R. Bacon (New Mexico), October 20, 2007

- Gregory (USA), October 20, 2007

- yandexx (Saint-Petersburg, Russia), October 19, 2007

2 of 18 people found the following review helpful:
Overwhelming, October 19, 2007
by isd (Tokyo)

How could a game be exhausting when the puzzles are solvable?

I have not finished the game(yet?). I went as far as the school gym...
But having all these pieces of stories with no real solid link is overwhelming to keep in mind. The only attractive thing is the writing style...
There would be only two or three storylines, it would be nice, and maybe there is only three, who knows? THIS is the problem. (I must say I play with gargoyle, so I don't have the colored interface.)
Giving the fact that playing itself is not really fun I think I will give up.
But something wants me to continue, something wants me to see all the pieces come together at the end...
It is like suffering a long run to get a promised ice cream... but I am beginning to wonder about the taste of the ice cream.

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Baf's Guide


Scenes from a handful of ordinary lives alternate with chapters of a child's colorful science-fantasy. Sweet and sad, and complex enough that you may need to go through it twice in order to fully understand how all the fragments fit together. Very story-driven, with menu-based conversations and virtually no puzzle content. My only complaint is that it isn't terribly interactive - indeed, you're practically driven through it on tracks, and any actions that you don't take tend to be rendered unnecessary. But the story is intriguing enough, and well-written enough, and moving enough, that this seems a small quibble. This is probably the most successful example I've seen of interactivity at the service of fiction, rather than vice versa.

The author intended this game to be played with colored text. Although I normally dislike such things, I agree that it works in this case. A monochrome version is also provided for those who feel differently.

(NB: The first release of this game credits Opal O'Donnell as the author. This was a deliberate deception on the part of the real author, carried out with the permission of the real Opal O'Donnell.)

-- Carl Muckenhoupt

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