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About the Story
You see, when the scientists had thought that the only smallpox around was in a very very small box kept securely closed, they were wrong. When you come into the clinic today, seven people have already died. A nurse is missing. He's probably gone, too. You think that his name was Simon. You are a doctor at Mercy Hospital, euthanizing people that suffer from smallpox. Long ago, you have stopped caring, about anything. Or have you?
Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best Setting - 1997 XYZZY Awards
Chris Klimas says that he hopes "Mercy" is something new in the interactive fiction universe. I don't know if that's true or not, but it certainly was a breath of fresh air for me to play and it clearly is different. I love the feelings it stirs in me, the disturbing moodiness that hangs over the whole thing, the "love story", as it were... I kinda wish he'd kept it until the competition. It would have grabbed *my* highest rating.
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This is certainly a "different" game which drew me into the storyline very early in the piece. The puzzles are relatively easy and the game is played mainly for the story it tells. It is a relatively short game with approximately 30 locations. There are many different ways to get to your destination [...] The ending varies too, depending on your actions.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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This is one of those games that you either love or hate. Personally, I loved every word of it. The PC is a doctor euthanizing patients in a hospital amid a widespread outbreak of smallpox. The atmosphere is colorless and numb – a fitting metaphor for the numbness one feels after being injected with antibiotics. The game moves at a perfect pace, allowing the player to mull about the hospital and take everything in before continuing on.
Mercy makes you think about death, humanity, life and yes…even love. The prose really pulls on the heart strings and combined with the subject matter, it makes the game almost too painful to play. I know that this may sound terribly sentimental, but at one point I could feel tears gathering in my eyes. There are so many directions this game can go and I wouldn’t say that there is really a “winning” ending. There are several endings which I would consider a better outcome for the PC than others, but ultimately it’s interesting to try out every branch of the story and read every ending.
There are moments of Mercy that are truly haunting – presenting death in a way that is beyond a corpse or an illness. Mercy deals with the death of the soul – a complete lack of feeling in the PC that becomes quite alarming toward the middle of the game.
Puzzle-wise, Mercy is nothing special. There are no puzzles, per-say – only choices. The game progresses at a set pace, giving the player the option of making certain choices in the process. The thing is – those choices actually matter. Every little choice you make will impact the ending you get in some way.
I strongly recommend that you play through Mercy several times to really get the full experience. The imagery sets the scene perfectly, but to get the full story, it’s best to visit all the locations and examine everything available. You won’t be able to do that all in one play-though.
But be warned: the theme of death is a very prominent one in the game and you should not play it unless you can handle the emotional impact. And believe me, there is an impact.
As mentioned in reviews, this game is more an "interactive story"; it is plot-heavy and doesn't have any puzzles. The setting is pretty original, and although I would have liked to know more about this outbreak, the fact that the plot develops around something way different is not a big deal. This plot is indeed interesting, and it's a nice story to tell; the pacing is well-done, as well as the gradual reveal. I don't mind being more or less guided into a story if that story is good, and in that case it was well-done (however, I felt like I had no control over the story by the choices I make, contrary to other reviewers - sure, paths fork at some point, but then merge again one scene later).
The main problem I had with this game is that I think I didn't really understand it the first time. Most notably, I think I got too distracted by what was happening in the computer to see that the character was actually having a realization that was changing his course of action (and to be fair, this big realization is expedited in about 4 sentences). I just thought (Spoiler - click to show)the PC had been having an affair with Leslie - or does he? I'm confused.. I also didn't connect the characters together, so I didn't really understand what happened until it was laid out explicitly in front of me. I did find all the endings, or at least I think I did, but they didn't really click emotionally for me; the writing was a bit trite and the implications of the actions weren't presented or were too subtle to have any emotional impact on me; I did feel the ending was a bit abrupt. So all in all I don't know if the game's really to blame : maybe it was attempting to be evocative and subtle and I just didn't understand what it meant because English isn't my native language!
Mercy is an interesting game from a couple of decades past. Not entered in IFComp, it nevertheless managed to earn recognition, including a nomination for Best Story Xyzzy.
You play a euthanized at a hospital. The game is a linear thriller type game and has a branch and bottleneck structure which became the characteristic of Twine games many years later.
You wander around a relatively small map with a gloomy, moody atmosphere strongly reminiscent of Vespers, but less disgusting. Your goals begin to change around the halfway point, which is also where the game becomes more ambiguous and confusing.
I recommend this game for fans of a great story and/or atmosphere.
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