Savoir-Faire

by Emily Short profile

Episode 1 of Lavori d'Aracne
Fantasy
2002

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Reviews and Ratings

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(79)
4 star:
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3 star:
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Number of Ratings: 120
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- SherwoodForbes, June 21, 2022

- aluminumoxynitride, June 21, 2022

- feamir, May 23, 2022

- josephine17, April 25, 2022

- NorkaBoid (Ohio, USA), January 22, 2022

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Character and craft, December 19, 2021

There's little about the game that hasn't been touched on in other reviews, but, a few things that struck me in particular -

The protagonist was beautifully rendered. The swashbuckling hero, with both a refined sense of manners and a total lack of scruples, will be familiar to anyone who's read Dumas or similarly-flavoured French period fiction -- and his character suffuses everything from the room and item descriptions to the structure of the puzzles. I laughed out loud several times, which I do rarely when reading. This is certainly a puzzle game, and the story is not the focus -- outside of the feelies, which are excellently done and worth reading -- but the prose here is nevertheless among the best of any IF I've read, and very fine even by Short's usual standard.

The puzzles are centered around the game's form of magic, but almost all of them also rely on an elaborate physical simulation of the world. Liquids and light are particularly deeply-implemented, and interact in a consistent way with the "linking" mechanic. Once you've experimented enough to learn the rules of the world, the puzzles are all logical enough and frequently have multiple good solutions... the game is overall still quite challenging, but a thorough player can work their way through the whole thing without a walkthrough.

Altogether wonderfully done.


- William Chet (Michigan), May 21, 2021

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
(mostly) Logical Magic, October 11, 2020
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: Fantasy, History

I had been putting of playing Savoir Faire because it is a) an old school puzzle hunt which b) depends on magic. Two things I do not particularly enjoy when playing IF.
However, after succesfully completing the puzzly Theatre with very few hints, I decided to take on Emily Short's challenge. It was great!

The reason I dislike most magic is that it feels superficial. A bunch of floaty blabla about "words of power" that somehow control the essence of things doesn't appeal to me.
In Savoir Faire, most of the puzzles depend on the Lavori d'Aracne, a magic system that lets the practitioner LINK objects. That way there is at least a hint of a physical connection between the objects and the practitioner of magic. These links also depend on a material likeness of the objects, so the magic system feels more like the use of an extra property of nature than a violation of it.

At the start of the game, your PC is almost too obnoxious to even be an anti-hero. Coming to the house you grew up in to ask for money to help with gambling debts, finding that your adoptive father and sister are not there while you expected them to be, and then going on to loot the place? Not very nice, to put it mildly. Through the snippets of backstory you find through memory and exploration though, he is somewhat redeemed (somewhat, that is.)

The setting, the mansion of the count who took in the PC, makes quite an impression through the near-perfect prose of Emily Short. Descriptions are terse, only the bare necessities there, with an ever so delicate sprinkling of detail. Examining further however opens up layers of feeling and meaning about the rooms and furniture, so that the player is drawn into this world. Extremely well done!

Because of the use of magic, I tagged this game "fantasy", but it's actually more an alternate history, where the old France is precisely the same as it was, with the addition of this extra set of natural laws, i.e. the Lavori d'Aracne.

Hard puzzles, but all of them logical; many alternative solutions (except one I found so obvious that I was disappointed not to have it work: (Spoiler - click to show)To uncork a bottle you link the cork to your sword and then draw the sword. To my mind it made much more sense within the magic system to put the sponge in the drain, then link the cork to the sponge and pull out the sponge.)
And even when you're stuck you can relax while playing with the mechanical cooking contraption (which is very reminiscent of the contraptions in Metamorphoses)

Great game!


- bradleyswissman (Virginia, US), September 17, 2020

- newtonja, August 31, 2020

- peachesncream, July 24, 2020

- Sono, December 10, 2019

- elias67, November 1, 2019

- erzulie, September 24, 2019

- Joey Jones (UK), March 31, 2019

- Vigorish (Bradenton, Florida ), November 15, 2018

- lucyclare, October 7, 2018

- AKheon (Finland), September 14, 2018

- patrick.brian.mooney (Twin Cities, Minnesota), August 10, 2018

- e.peach, August 2, 2018

- mrfrobozzo, August 2, 2018

- yaronra, July 16, 2018

- calindreams (Birmingham, England), April 13, 2018

- Spike, August 12, 2017

- mapped, July 3, 2017


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