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More meditation than game, June 2, 2011
Pale Blue Light is a curious, meditative story composed of very disparate scenes: in one you're exploring a mysterious ruin, in the next interacting with poetry by choosing keywords to explore. The effect is at first a little bit disconcerting. Pieces of the story are present tense, other pieces past; first, second, and third-person voices appear in different places. Protagonists come and go. It isn't always clear what the immediate goal might be.
It's only towards the end of the work that the significance of the time shifting and narrative fragmentation becomes entirely clear: which character is "you", which is "I", and what the third-person segments are (and are about).
Certain themes do appear even early on, however: problems of speech and communication, the struggle to recognize the people you are close to, the threat of death, and especially the loss of a sibling. In this it resembles Kazuki Mishima's other works, which have a consistently allusive quality. They do not so much tell a traditionally plotted story as juxtapose a series of ideas for an evocative result: an effect more poetic than narrative.
Ultimately what emerges is a meditation about writing and readers: one character is the reader of another character's manuscript, and is concerned with both the original author's biography and the symbolism of his fictional writings. The player is also invited into this relationship of reading and response. The use of keywords and free-form input alongside more traditional IF commands encourages the player to think about symbolism and personal reactions to the story fragments, not just to try to solve each scene. It's a technique we have seen in Blue Lacuna and in a handful of other places, but it is used to good effect here. I found the ending especially strong.
Recommended, especially for players interested in non-standard forms of interactive storytelling or interactive poetry.