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A fun SF/fantasy adventure, May 4, 2014
This is a fun science-fiction/fantasy adventure. The first half, involving scientific labs and technobabble, transitions nicely into a high fantasy setting with magical creatures in the second half.
The majority of puzzles involve combining magical spells to produce an item that is useful in an exchange. This magic system is interesting in that it is based on ethical values of balance and equality. These values fit quite well with a maxim of traditional adventure games: each item unlocks something new; each cost has a payoff.
However, some puzzles showcase these values better than others. Apart from one or two puzzles, I never really felt that the exchanges held any emotional cost or benefit for the characters, or ecological cost or benefit to the world. (The puzzle in which you (Spoiler - click to show)repay Axia by catching a crab is one of the best. Most other exchanges simply seemed to involve random items, despite being cleverly structured puzzles.)
That said, relationships between characters are well-developed when considered independently from the puzzles. Each character is part of a complex society of magical creatures that is smartly based on ecological values. The society is sublimely beautiful but not blandly utopian. There are tiny tastes of tragedy within a kind-hearted world; the predator-prey relationships demonstrate this brilliantly.
My only other criticism: the writing needs to be trimmed in some places. There's an introductory scene in a helicopter with quite a lot of plot exposition. A little exposition is okay, but I didn't appreciate the stuffed file folders that were thrust at me. I would additionally suggest that the author edit and condense the magic list and magic book into one item.
Fortunately, those few floods of information are mitigated by a good conversation system, and most of the plot is distributed fairly evenly throughout the game.
All in all, fun IF with a happy ending.