Love, Hate and the Mysterious Ocean Tower

by C.E.J. Pacian profile


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Number of Reviews: 6
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1-6 of 6

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A fun short speed-IF with multiple endings, February 3, 2016

This speed IF came from a competition where participants where given 'blurbs' about their game, which they had to incorporate.

The game contains a few yes/no questions, and then the ending, where you can take various actions. This determines one of many endings.

The game has plenty of blood, some arrogant characters, and some crazy fantasy sections. As a real game, it's not much. As speed IF, it is well written and complex.

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Meh. Wasn't Impressed., January 3, 2015
by Chai Hai (Kansas City KS)

Off the bat I found the other main character to be a prick, and disliked him from the start. (Spoiler - click to show)And I'm supposed to give my life to save the world due to someone who didn't even trust me with the information? Nuh-uh.

It was a short game, and I can see that the author meant it to be a game about love and choice, but the themes weren't represented well at all in my opinion. This one missed the mark, sorry to say.

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Short, but vintage Pacian, September 27, 2011
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

If there is one constant quality throughout Pacian's games, it is the strengths of the prose: always clear, always doing a lot with few words. This is an excellent match with this world building, which is also geared towards creating a mysterious but coherent image by giving us just a detail here and a phrase there. Pacian will never explain anything that doesn't need to be explained. His prose is lean and mean -- or at least lean and a little sad (I don't consider him to be an especially mean writer). This is as true about Love, Hate and the Mysterious Ocean Tower as it was about his previous games.

Unlike some of his other games, Love, Hate and the Mysterious Ocean Tower is all about choice. Structurally, it divides into two parts. First, as we move to the final scene, we make several choices that will decide what possibilities are open to us at the end. Then, in the final scene, we can choose between them (supposing that we are smart enough to realise all the possibilities). This last scene is a great set piece of love, hate, (Spoiler - click to show)betrayal and fighting, which, even if it doesn't manage to pack an emotional punch, at least interests and surprises us.

I can even imagine Love, Hate and the Mysterious Ocean Tower as the final sequence of a larger game, in which case it could be quite powerful emotionally.

Also, a moment of self-knowledge: I would never have made Nicholas the protagonist, would I?

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
It's all about the characters, September 27, 2011
by Kenneth Hutt (London, UK)

Love, Hate and the Mysterious Ocean Tower is a short story, designed to be played in a matter of a few minutes. That, of course, imposes certain limits on its range. But within those limits it is polished and intriguing.

Consistently with Pacian's other work, the story's focus is distinctly, and one assumes deliberately, not about some of the things that "classic" and "neoclassic" IF focus on. The things that are hidden or hinted at in this game are not about place or object, so that the task is not to explore place or object. It's not about puzzles. Indeed, the story rather explicitly turns its back on those traditional elements: (Spoiler - click to show)as when taking inventory reveals that Nicky is carrying a pile of useless books or (Spoiler - click to show)where the discovery of an intricate puzzle-lock leads, almost instantly, to its summary destruction by Peyton. For most of the story it's obvious where you must go and what you must do.

But this does not mean that the characterization, either of the people concerned or of the location, is inadequate. Quite the contrary. The surreal world and the characters are sketched, with additional elements occasionally revealed, in a way that very convincingly shows, without telling, an intriguing back-story and environment.

Nor does it mean that the game is not about choice. On the contrary, it is very much -- in the end -- about choice. As Victor Gijsbers has perceptively said, choice is most important when the reader/player is explicitly aware of it. Despite the combination of melodrama and camp on the surface of the story, the result manages to be touching.

The aim of this story is evidently not profound -- no mixture of Indiana Jones and Rocky Horror could be -- but for all that it manages to be not just light fun (though it is that), but something a little more too. Highly recommended if you like short, strongly drawn pieces to while away half an hour or so.

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Theme, Imagery and Characterization, May 26, 2011

The constraints of Speed-IF force an author to identify and highlight the core elements of their story: here, Pacian has chosen theme, imagery, and characterization. The brief prologue establishes all three in only a few sentences and lines of dialogue as we see a literal blushing romance, evocative phrasing, and hints of the main characters' complementary and contrasting personalities. The first sentence alone sets the stage:

"The zeppelin lurches suddenly and I tumble forward, spilling my books on the deck. Peyton laughs sympathetically and holds out his hand."

The viewpoint character and Peyton explore this dynamic along with the eponymous tower, learning about each other even as the reader learns the history of the setting. For such a short game, there is a great deal of backstory verging on the infodump in places, but never substantially enough to drag on the reader. Only curiosity, and perhaps, a tease of things (never?) to come.

It's surprising to find much replayability or branching in Speed-IF, but even though they're naturally abbreviated there are numerous endings, all logically suggested by the end-game scenario, and several points where the fleeting conversations can be steered into different revelations and outcomes. I found this thoughtfulness, like the developed personalities and vivid descriptions, touching. While it might take 10 minutes to play the first time and 2 thereafter, "Love, Hate, and the Mysterious Ocean Tower" is a vignette I'll visualize and remember for a long time.

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Curiously evocative, April 26, 2011

Like much Speed-IF, this one is a little under-implemented if you try to interact with scenery too much. Working in its favor, though, is a very clear and straight-ahead plot, so that it's easy to stay on track and avoid getting stuck. There are several possible endings, but in retrospect at the end of the game it's pretty easy to tell what might have changed the outcome.

The story is a snack-sized piece about threatened love in the context of a supremely bizarre universe with zeppelins, archaeologists, savage deities and squid-men. The few locations we get to visit are vividly drawn and suggest an entire larger culture. (Possibly even the same culture as in "Walker and Silhouette"? Both feature an identifiable England continuous with lands of unidentifiable strangeness and fantasy.)

Definitely worth a try, especially for those who already know they enjoy Pacian's style.

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