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Turandot

by Victor Gijsbers profile

Romance
2019

(based on 48 ratings)
8 reviews

About the Story

An operatic performance. A tale of atonement. A dating sim with a crocodile pit.

Content warnings: sex; sexism and other gender issues; suicide; torture; homophobia; xenophobia.


Game Details


Awards

Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Writing; Winner - Tie, Best Story; Winner - Turandot, Best Individual NPC - 2019 XYZZY Awards

2nd Place - 25th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2019)

49th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2023 edition)

Editorial Reviews

wurb.com
IFComp 2019: Turandot
Turandot, by Victor Gijsbers, is a romance flavored with peril, only very slightly connected to the opera of the same name: it tosses the exoticizing orientalism out the window and expands the princess Turnadotís test for her suitors... Because thatís really what this work is about: a character being forced into confrontation with himself. Two characters, really, including the deadly princess.
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Member Reviews

5 star:
(25)
4 star:
(17)
3 star:
(6)
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Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 8
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
An erotic self-aware retelling of Turandot, October 6, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

Reviews serve many purposes. Helping authors feel noticed; providing feedback for future games; monologuing; and helping players decide what to play and not.

In the interest of the latter, this game is overtly sexual in a crass way. I abandoned it once, and only persevered when told that the large middle portion contains very little of that nature.

Aside from that, Gijsbers has used all of his excellent storytelling powers in crafting this game.

It takes Puccini's Turandot, a story that is very problematic in and of itself. I'm in the camp that believes that Puccini had built up something he couldn't finish: there was no reasonable way to finish the story or the music that could mesh well with what went before. There's no realistic resolution whatsoever.

This game takes that on head-first. The player traverses death and destruction in pursuit of the princess, but there's a sort of in-game fourth-wall-breaking (third-wall breaking?) where everyone comments on the ridiculousness of it. It's all just a joke.

But is it? (Spoiler - click to show)The player's obsession is never really explained. And the neat wrapping up of 'none of the people' actually died ignores the friend. The murder of the guard is glossed over. These huge plot holes are explained away by the overall self-critical nature of the game.

I've noticed that every writing community has it's own views on what is 'great'. I made a chart once displaying where each community lies on the scale of 'earnestness' vs and 'originality' vs 'canon' in their judging. Creepypasta and Battle for Wesnoth both have extreme earnestness in their writing, while IFComp tends to value self-awareness. This game is far in the self-awareness area, almost a parody of self-awareness.

The choice structure is essentially all fake choices. There may be some actual state tracked, but I don't think it necessarily improves the game if that's true. For instance, I chose to (Spoiler - click to show)let the crocodile kill me and the game explained it away, again, in a very self-aware manner.

This game achieves everything it set out to do. I would say it was one of my favorites except that the feelings of shame I get reading erotic works doesn't go well with the pure enjoyment I have from text games. I believe it will do very well in the competition, possibly the top three, unless other voters have concerns about the content as well.

All in all, Victor Gijsbers started out as a good author, and its clear he's only improving with time. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next!

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
A decent parody that had me wishing for more, September 23, 2020
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

This is probably the toughest review I've written so far as I'm not entirely sure how I feel about Turandot. I should note this is the first ChoiceScript game I've finished and it's not my preferred style of play.

I was immediately turned off by the game's first section, where we intimately are introduced to Calaf's misogyny. Gijsbers tries to play it for laughs, as the entire game is kind of a parody of the opera, which was terribly sexist. While I smirked at times, I just don't find sexism ripe for comedy.

Things definitely improve once we meet Turandot, as she is a revulsed by Calaf as anyone should be and has an appealing flare for the dramatic. Her running commentary as she sends Calaf through the trials to win her over is witty and endearing. I was less taken by her change of heart, as Calaf's self-actualization feels out of nowhere, though I have to admit I was rooting for him by the end. And the ending turns the game on its head one more time, making us once again reevaluate everything we thought of our characters and I was left feeling a bit dizzy (not to mention confused for Calaf's friend).

Ultimately, I gave this three stars because Gijsbers is an excellent writer and I was compelled for most of the ride. But I was left quite unsatisfied. Perhaps if this had been written as satire, with more focus on the historic racism of Orientalist operas, I would have appreciated it more. Instead it felt to me like a few different sketch comedies thrown together, full of some laughs but with an inconsistent theme.

I should also acknowledge the quite overt references (so overt that it would be hard to call them Easter Eggs) to several famous IF works sprinkled throughout, though I'm not sure why they are here. It reminds me of how out of place it felt to get an XYZZY response while playing Babel. Though I imagine I will never again find quite as satisfying a result to clicking "Show Stats."

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Linear story, great writing, September 30, 2021
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: 1-2 hours

In this story you play Calaf, a rougish young man with rich parents whose primary leisure activity is spending time in brothels. But with a single glimpse of the legendarily beautiful and mysterious princess Turnadot (based loosely on the play/opera of the same name), he falls deeply in love with her (or does he?) and becomes willing to do anything to get her to marry him.

This is an interesting piece of IF. It is written in ChoiceScript, but does not make use of the stats features (instead replacing the stats page with a funny message), and I'm not sure any of the choices you make cause the story to branch much. But it illustrates well a different way to put interactivity into a work of IF. Each bit of writing in between choices is very small, you basically get to decide on 90% of the dialogue of Calaf. In this way I felt I embodied the character more than in many other pieces of choice-based IF, because he basically didn't do anything without my permission, I put all the words in his mouth. Now, between the subject matter and the necessarily limited choices I was given in most instances to choose the dialogue, I still didn't really connect with the character, as my personality does not fall any where near the range you allowed to pick from for Calaf's personality. Still, the quick pace of choices made me feel like I was playing the character almost as much as I would in a parser-based game.

The writing in this game is excellent as well. It is mostly dialogue between two characters and has a fun cat-and-mouse rhythm to it. It reminded me of the best scenes of dialogue from a Kevin Smith or Quentin Tarantino movie, and I enjoyed it very much.

In the end, I think mostly due to the subject matter, and a bit of plot dissonance towards the end ((Spoiler - click to show)I felt like the story went too quickly from Calaf discovering his friend murdered to the "happy" ending), this one didn't really grab me the way some lesser games with more agreeable plots have. Still, I think this is an important game for the quality of the writing and the lessons it can teach about the different kinds of interactivity. Certainly worth your time for that.

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Turandot on IFDB

Recommended Lists

Turandot appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Great games in a mostly realistic setting by MathBrush
These are games that for the most part don't contain magical elements or futuristic technology. This includes games where there might be magic or futuristic technology, but you don't know until the end. So several of these games do...

2023 Alternative Top 100 by Denk
(18sep2023) This is an alternative to other rating based lists with pros and cons in that it allows for games with fewer ratings (5 ratings required) to reach the top of the list which obviously makes their place on the list quite...

2020 Alternative Top 100 by Denk
(Created 24-Jul-2020) The purpose of this list is not to compete with the IFDB Top 100 but to provide an alternative view, which makes sense for some games. Philosophy: 1. If a game only has 5-star ratings, it is because the game hasn't...

See all lists mentioning this game

Polls

The following polls include votes for Turandot:

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Individual NPCs of 2019 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2019 which you think might be worth considering for Best Individual NPC in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is partly to...

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Writing of 2019 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2019 which you think might be worth considering for Best Writing in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is partly to suggest...

IF of yours you'd most recommend by blue/green
If someone were going to play one IF you've written, which one would you recommend? This can be based on any criteria you choose: personal favorite, highest rated, most representative, most accessible, whatever. (You can always change...

See all polls with votes for this game




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