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Compelling puzzles in completely disjointed scenes, March 31, 2010
This is a hard one for me to rate, because in some areas it really excels, while in other areas it falls flat.
For instance, its opening scene, with the varying personalities you encounter and the unique way you get information about the room drew me in quickly. Immediately afterwards, there was a puzzle that made zero sense to me. The hints only helped to a point, but the puzzle needed more context.
After that, the scene turns creepy and isolated in a way I don't see too often in IF. Loved that. But the puzzle itself turned into a frustrating experiment in reading the author's mind. Boo. (At least the built-in-hints helped.) Then a maze with a clever solution that I enjoyed puzzling out.
The final scene had an interesting puzzle and setting, but I had zero idea who I was. What was I now? What had I been in the first scene? Why do I care? Why did the maze lead to this?
Great puzzles and moody sets are all fine and good, but if they're going to be so disjointed in theme, the character (or something! anything!) should be a unifying, overarching thread so it doesn't feel like a cafeteria lady serving up IF puzzles wearing a Halloween mask to be mysterious.
I played this right after finishing An Open Field. Here's my conclusion: those two games should've traded some ideas. OPEN FIELD, while initially disorienting, ends with a clear background concept; by the end, you knew who you were, what your situation was, and what your goal would be as that character. However, OPEN FIELD lacked implementation that would've made it a standout work.
THE END MEANS has implementation up the ying-yang. (Just "x young" in the second scene of THE END MEANS...you'll understand.)
If you like puzzles, try out THE END MEANS ESCAPE. If you're looking for more story to go with your IF, you may want to sit this one out.