Number of Reviews: 7
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Flawed but also heaps of fun, March 17, 2008
Snowblind Aces is a game of conversation between two long-time opponents who meet at last under survival circumstances. It plays with the idea that your enemies often understand you more completely than your friends, a theme I've always found rather fascinating.
I waver over whether to give this three stars or four. If I were rating it purely on how much I enjoyed it, four would be in order: romances are rare in IF, I tend to have fun with them, and this one is no exception. I like the setting, too -- an alternate history full of zeppelins and mountain-top retreats, with plenty of 1910s/20s style. It's no mistake that the game implements the aviator scarf and goggles, even though they're not strictly needed for anything; this is partly costume drama, and the game gives the player a chance to dress up and enjoy the part. And the main NPC is spunky and sassy and while this sort of flirty, defiant adventure heroine is a bit of a cliché... well, again, I thought she was fun.
On the other hand, there are some issues of construction and pacing that make me knock it down a star again. The characters will easily repeat entire swathes of dialogue verbatim, and while that might be less problematic in a different kind of game, it does a bit of a disservice in one which is primarily about conversation. There are also spots where it's hard to trigger the appropriate conversation topic, because sensible synonyms for the conversation aren't implemented. In particular, sometimes the conversation prompt is named something like "show you are interested", but "show I am interested" is not accepted when the player types it; one has to type literally "show you are interested". (This exact example is invented, but the principle applies.)
It's possible for sections of the work to drag a little longer than quite makes sense, too. While I found it easy to talk for quite a while, I didn't find the trigger to make the game *end* until I looked at the hints. That's partly because I forgot about the TOPICS command, but I think it would have been better if the game moved itself towards a conclusion once the player seemed to have run out of things to say, or if there were at the very least some hints toward getting a move on. Otherwise, the momentum of the conversation peters out and then the player spends a little while tinkering around to figure out how to make the game conclude, which is perhaps not the most effective way to pace this story.
Finally, on the characterization side: I wouldn't have minded there being just a little more of a challenge to getting Imelda to open up to me. And while I enjoyed the endings I saw, if you make the right choices, it's possible to get quite a long string of cut-scenes as the conclusion -- more than the game needs.
So the game could have been a little tauter, better polished, and more disciplined in a couple of respects. On the other hand, considering it was written in two weeks, this is hardly a poor showing. It's also an entry in a nearly-unpopulated genre, with quite a bit of charm. Between this and Gun Mute, I am looking forward very much to more work from Pacian.