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About the Story
"I wake peacefully, and already she is there." [--blurb from Competition Aught-Zero]
Nominee, Best Writing; Winner, Best Story; Nominee, Best Individual NPC - 2000 XYZZY Awards
A hauntingly told tale whose most important conceit can't be given away here without spoilers, this is largely puzzleless; the focus is on the story, and on the protagonist's relationship with the main NPC. Both you and the NPC are telepaths, and you communicate by sharing thoughts; at times, it's as if you're two characters rather than one. It's told in the first person with an unusual formatting trick: the game gives you the option of shifting all parser responses to the subject line and putting the main text together as if it were static prose. The technical details are done well--there are even reasonably logical paragraphs--but it's still easy to get repetitive text. Still, My Angel is worth playing--it's much more notable for the relationship it depicts (and for the twist at the end) than for its formatting experiments.
-- Duncan Stevens
There's more to My Angel than the formatting, fortunately, and the reason it works as a story has very little to do with the appearance of the transcript. The story flips back and forth between the main thread and some flashback sequences in a reasonably seamless way, and you can actually interact with the characters and objects in the flashback sequences. Technically, of course, that has the potential to make no sense, but the game manages to limit your options to assure that it controls what actually happens in the flashback sequences while still providing more interactivity than a simple cut scene.
-- Duncan Stevens
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There are two modes in which this game can be played, Novel and Normal. I found the Novel mode to be difficult to follow and recommend that the game is played in normal mode.
-- Dorothy Millard
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
I encountered one or two grammatical errors while traversing the story, and the occasions when it appeared to be ignoring my input annoyed me somewhat, but overall I came away feeling impressed as hell with My Angel. It's a daring experiment, executed with grace and care, and it provided me not only with some vivid impressions of setting and story, but with a good deal of food for thought about the possible future directions of IF.
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Writing this was a strange experience. I started with a simple idea and a short series of puzzles, and everything just kept falling away - locations, the status line, the command prompt, the puzzles and the ending - until suddenly it was two parts long, and strangely fluid. Looking back I'm not too happy with the writing and I don't know that I'd ever bury myself in such a mess of code again. But I'm glad I did it, if only just the once.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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Ingold's storytelling here weaves a magical world and an emotive story, with something of a twist. The central innovation here is that it is written in the style of a novel, with the player's inputs remaining outside of the first-person text. The slightly expressionist style gives a good sense of character, and we can feel strongly the protagonist's love for his partner, and their inner motivations and desires. However, the actual backstory felt somewhat muddled, and by the time the twist came it did not have the impact a more clear narrative might have.
Despite the fact that the author implemented multiple solutions to certain puzzles, and side puzzles that one need not complete, I also felt that I was mostly following a story on rails. The majority of the action proceeds via simply thinking about things, or even by typing 'look'. It did not really matter whether I puzzle-solved or not, and the few essential puzzles felt too simple to get past. Obviously, interactive fiction does not rely on puzzles, but it does rely on some sense of interactivity, and I felt this was somewhat weak - what I chose did not have any impact on what happened, particularly.
There was also one small niggle I had regarding the inventory system - although my inventory was never overly full nor even that important, I found it rather annoying to have to check my satchel separately from my general inventory.
Overall: great atmosphere, strong writing, excellent sense of romance, but narrative and gameplay were ultimately not as satisfying as they should have been.
Like the more recent experimental work Laid Off from the Synesthesia Factory, My Angel strives to make a transcript of the game read like a book. Error messages are turned off, diddling around too long makes the story progress by itself, room descriptions are varied so they don't repeat enough, and it is written in first person present tense.
When I first played this game a year or more ago, I lost interest and stopped because I couldn't tell how well I was doing or know what to do next. This time, I just went with instinct and tried obvious commands and I beat the game without hints. The author's notes are very interesting, as much or more than the game itself.
The story is about a couple with unusual abilities running away from a group, and then later exploring ruins.
Jon Ingold is really a master of innovation. Looking over his career, it seems he was really trying over and over to find something that could draw in people outside of traditional IF, and he finally succeeded with the wildly popular 80 Days. This game is interesting in light of that history as well.
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