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About the Story
A Real Novel by Edgar Allan Poe.
Language: English (en)
Current Version: 1
Development System: Inform 7
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
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Number of Reviews: 2
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Faithful, that is, to how Ryan Veeder remembered Poe’s only novel one month after listening to the audiobook, and without consulting the novel again. Events are skimmed. Characters are combined. Context is discarded. Forgotten plot beats are swept overboard. The game plunges on. It doesn’t matter.
I’m tempted to call the resulting game a parody, but that doesn’t sit right. This is simply Poe filtered through Veeder’s head. A bizarre story about shipwreck and cannibalism becomes a bizarre story about shipwreck and cannibalism. A dog appears. Pickles are eaten. We visit Antarctica. There is a dead polar bear.
I’m not sure how much anyone will appreciate this game without having read Poe’s original novel. I’m also not sure how much anyone will appreciate it without having played Veeder’s other games. But if you do have that background, this game is surprisingly illuminating, both in relation to Poe and Veeder. It puts a spotlight on certain elements in Poe, clearing away everything else so that you can see just how weird these elements really are. And since that spotlight is Veeder’s interpretation, you also see how he’s personally digesting the material.
This all becomes even more interesting when you consider that Winter Storm Draco (one of Veeder’s best games, in my opinion) was built with Arthur Gordon Pym as its thematic foundation. The references to Pym are so central in Draco that if you extracted them, Draco would vanish.
Finally, I’ll take this opportunity to point out that the cry “Tekeli-li!” did not originate with Lovecraft. It’s from Arthur Gordon Pym, to which Lovecraft owes a great debt when it comes to Antarctic exploration, ancient polar civilizations, and unfathomable creatures dwelling below the ice.
This review is part of the Official Ryan Veeder Weekend Review Challenge with Guaranteed Prize.
In this game, our intrepid author programs an entire game without a single (actually, with A single) glance at the source material.
The source material was, from the recollection, somewhat disturbing, but the retelling is much more disturbing if approached in the right vein. Have you ever faintly recalled a movie, or story, or dream from your youth that deeply disturbed you? I have half-recollected versions of both It and Castle in the Sky that are much more haunting than the original.
That's what this game is; it condenses all of the most disturbing parts of the game. What's disturbing is not the game, but what it reveals about the human mind, about Veeder's mind, about the things that his brain decided to store up for the future.