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Photograph: A Portrait of Reflection

by Steve Evans profile

Slice of life

(based on 26 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

Photograph was an entry in the 2002 IFComp, in which it placed 3rd out of 38 entries. It was also nominated for two XYZZY awards, "Best Player Character" & "Best Use Of Medium".

It's a story-driven, almost puzzleless work about a man obsessed with what he perceives to have been a wrong turn in his life. The story has dark themes with elements that are either fantasy, or delusion on the part of the protagonist.

To date Photograph represents the author's only foray into the world of interactive fiction writing.

Game Details


Nominee, Best Individual PC; Nominee, Best Use of Medium - 2002 XYZZY Awards

3rd Place - 8th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2002)

Editorial Reviews

SPAG review by Suzanne Britton
"Photograph is a vivid, professionally well-written and competently programmed work. It is story-based and nearly puzzleless, but manages to carry the player through the plot at a comfortable pace, without dissolving into the tedium that sometimes characterizes pure-story IF...."
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

Photograph is a carefully crafted tale, executed in prose that is both transparent and strong. Well-chosen symbols underpin the game's unfolding story of a man obsessed with what he perceives to be the big mistake in his past. Normally, this sort of thing isn't really my cup of tea -- I have a pretty low tolerance threshold for characters maundering over their memories or floundering in bad relationships. I get impatient for them to just take some action, move on and claim the present day, and I certainly felt some of those twinges of annoyance as I tried to guide the PC of Photograph into a less passive approach to life. However, the game made two choices that helped considerably to redeem these problems.

First, although the PC is certainly stuck in his mental processes, the writing introduces some blessed complexity into its depiction of his life, making it clear that his obsessed interpretation of events isn't the only available point of view on them. There are some really beautiful details in this game, and their shine helps to illuminate the PC as a passionate but fallible character rather than some objectively correct observer. The game's other saving grace is in its choice to cast this story as interactive fiction. Something really appealed to me about an IF character who wishes for nothing more fervently than a SAVE and RESTORE function for his own life. Choices, and how we are shaped by them, really works for me as a theme in IF.

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Dan Shiovitz's IFComp Review
"Hmm. This one didn't really work for me, but I appreciated the construction of the middle bits, anyway. It starts off in a somewhat odd state but eventually turns into one of those flashbacks-on-life games, with a special twist since this is life in Australia (this twist is presumably less special if you're Australian). I liked that the protagonist feels old. There are a lot of reminiscence games where the protagonist could be twenty or thirty, and hey, that's how old I am but I like the feeling of playing someone with a lot more memories to look back on...."
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Number of Reviews: 3
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A gentle, linear reflection on a long and troubled life, February 3, 2016

This game reminds me of Photopia in many ways. You have a photograph and a variety of other items in your house. As you CONSIDER (or C) each of them, you receive a flashback to your past.

Between your interactions in the past, you move around a bit in real life.

The game is very gentle; if you go the wrong way, the game will tell you to come back. All flashbacks can be revisited repeatedly. If you do nothing for a long time, the game will give you a hint.

I complete 90% of games with a walkthrough, but I didn't need one here (although I did know a bit of what to do in one flashback because I had skimmed through the ClubFloyd Transcript earlier).

I liked this game; it was reflective and contemplative.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Featured on Radio K #3, September 5, 2015
by Adam Cadre (Albany, California)

Clare Parker and I discuss Photograph at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eqj-Uby4jeY#t=15s

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A Must Play, March 15, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Evans, for writing a truly enjoyable story - wonderfully implemented, thoughtfully and carefully written, and thoroughly coded.

To speak too much of this piece would be to ruin it for others, so I will be brief. Photograph shined in the 2002 IF competition. Evans ventured beyond what was necessary, such as the dream sequence and the mishap on the way to the store, to illustrate the concerns of adulthood looking back on what might and should have been. Though the nature of this story requires that it be linear, Evans meticulously implements deviations from the plot as wistful reflections upon how things might have been different. This piece might not appeal to younger audiences, but to those of us who look back now and then to wonder if this was the proper path, Photograph is a must.

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Photograph: A Portrait of Reflection on IFDB

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Photograph: A Portrait of Reflection appears in the following Recommended Lists:

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The following polls include votes for Photograph: A Portrait of Reflection:

Artistic Games by WriterBob
I'm interested in games that take the fiction of IF to new levels. These are not straightforward, plot driven games. Think instead of games that play like poetry, or games that focus on a character's revelation.

One Hit Wonders by deathbytroggles
Good games by authors who apparently retired after their one gem.

Games with detailed descriptions of art works by Greg Frost
I am looking for games which use the literary technique of ekphrasis: "a vivid, often dramatic, verbal description of a visual work of art, either real or imagined" (Wikipedia).

See all polls with votes for this game

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