Les lettres du Docteur Jeangille

by manonamora profile

Slice-of-Life, Surreal

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Number of Reviews: 7
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Lovelorn letters... with a twist, May 16, 2024

The first thing that struck me about this game was the UI. It’s gorgeous! The softly textured main background, the handwriting fonts (with choices so you can pick one that you find most readable), the paper-like background for the text. It’s the perfect aesthetic for the story; there’s even a little quill you click to continue!

The story itself has a compelling start, with Isabelle having suddenly had to leave her home and return to the village she thought she’d left forever, now separated from her lover, Olympia, and pouring out her longing for reunion in her letters. What exactly happened is revealed slowly in bits and pieces (although on a second replay, when I chose a different option early on, I found that the explanation came together more quickly), and it was satisfying to put the pieces together, figuring out Isabelle’s background and why she had to suddenly leave the city.

Sometimes I didn’t feel like I was entirely following the ups and downs of the relationship as time and Isabelle’s letters went on, as we only get Isabelle’s side of the correspondence, but the tension between the two, the strain that the inciting incident and the distance was putting on their relationship—the way the distance allowed mistrust and suspicions to creep in, both jumping to conclusions about each other—was gripping to read and made me invested in the conclusion. I was less interested in the external plot going on around Isabelle, though, and because the ending focused in on that plotline, it fell a little flat for me.

Two other notes, first on the interactivity. I can’t help but compare this to other epistolary IF works I’ve played, and unlike in First Draft of the Revolution or Something Blue, in DJL the player/protagonist isn’t choosing what pieces of information to share with Olympia, or what spin to put on them; rather, you’re deciding which of the offered choices is actually true. Or at least, that was my interpretation after multiple playthroughs, and I felt almost like this gave me too much power over the story; things that felt like small choices in the moment ended up being major shapers of the way events played out, in ways I wasn’t prepared for.

Finally, I know this was translated from French under a time crunch, and that showed a bit, with some confusing phrasing or word mix-ups. This wasn’t a major distraction, but it made the reading experience a bit bumpy at times and created another barrier to my feeling like I’d fully grasped everything. I’m glad the translation was finished in time for Spring Thing, though, as I enjoyed the story and had fun playing through it!

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