Photograph: A Portrait of Reflection

by Steve Evans profile

Slice of life

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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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- Edo, September 29, 2021

- kierlani, April 4, 2020

- jjsonick, August 17, 2019

- elias67, March 15, 2019

- itsdnoftheworld, March 18, 2016

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.

- verityvirtue (London), January 20, 2016

- Simon Deimel (Germany), January 9, 2016

- <blank>, July 29, 2015

- timsamoff (Southern California), May 2, 2015

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), April 23, 2015

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.

- Thrax, March 12, 2015

- BlitzWithGuns, December 15, 2014

- AADA7A, September 21, 2012

- E.K., March 22, 2012

- EJ, November 10, 2011

- rootmos (Stockholm, Sweden), May 30, 2011

- Danielle (The Wild West), April 12, 2010

- Grey (Italy), December 25, 2009

- Linnau (Tel-Aviv, Israel), October 31, 2008

- Stephen Bond (Leuven, Belgium), October 26, 2007

- Quintin Stone (NC), October 23, 2007

- Otto (France), October 23, 2007

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