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Number of Reviews: 34
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Fantastic writing, wish I could appreciate it more, June 20, 2019
by wisprabbit (Sheffield, UK)

Galatea is a weird one for me, because I always butt my head against it for reasons that might not even be its fault.

As a story, it's wonderful. Galatea herself is a great character, a little bitter and capricious, entirely defined by her sculptor and fundamentally unable to have a life outside of his memory. It's a fantastic character study.

As a game, I always struggle a lot. You're supposed to pick up on keywords in Galatea's responses to follow conversation threads, but not every word you'd expect to get a response is a keyword, and some keywords are sort of implicit, but it's difficult to get at certain concepts you want to talk to Galatea about. The effect for me is a sort of dialogue maze where I talk round and round in circles until I give up and look at a walkthrough so I can enjoy the writing more.

I think it's interesting that the game knows its own limitations in this respect. In some of the happier endings, the PC seems to have a moment of clarity where they see Galatea as a personality rather than a living statue. This may just be my own interpretation, but I see a parallel here with seeing an NPC as a living conversation rather than a list of topics to run down. I think this is a lovely bit of writing which could merge the player's feelings and the PC's feelings at its best. I wish I didn't keep running into conversation loops so I could experience it. (The effect is compounded if you exhaust a topic early on and your character sneers something like "how can I treat this art as real when it has such a limited encyclopaedia?" I guess this is supposed to anticipate and play with criticisms of the game, but I wish it wouldn't remind me of its own limits when I'm trying to meet it on its own terms.)

This is all unfair, really. Galatea was one of the first works to really explore and improve conversations in IF (in my limited understanding of IF history), and Emily Short has built off this game wonderfully - her later game City of Secrets has the best conversation system I've seen so far. Once I looked up walkthroughs and read the work as a collection of stories rather than a conversation, I liked Galatea a lot more, but I think I've come along too late to appreciate it in its proper context as an influential game.

I'm leaving the game unrated because I don't think I've given it a fair shake. Maybe I just prefer puzzle games?

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
No statue has ever been erected to a critic, June 7, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

Galatea is an impressive piece of coding. Around the turn of the century there were many games that tried to create incredibly in-depth characters that would respond to anything, not to mention Scribblenauts, which tried to allow for a near infinite amount of actions. Of all in this genre I've tried, Galatea is the most successful at being interesting; yet, the shine wears off quickly and I stopped caring quicker than I thought possible.

Short is a superb writer, and her ability to write engaging dialogue with a statue still makes me jealous. The perspective she creates is infinitely interesting and I wanted to find as many conversation topics as possible to just hear more of what Galatea had to say.

Unfortunately, the game quickly turns into an exercise of trying to find as many endings as possible (of which there are 70). While I enjoyed this premise in Aisle, I find it tiresome here as finding various endings requires repeating some dialogue options multiple times while purposefully trying to manipulate Galatea's emotional state. At times it felt gross, and it didn't help that the PC is mostly an unsympathetic snob.

I believe I would have enjoyed this much more if Short had allowed the player to focus more on exploring Galatea's mind without worrying about triggering the next ending. In that case it could have been an extraordinary character study. As it stands it felt too much like I was playing with a gimmicky toy. Still, I would recommend everybody play this, if even for a brief time, just to experience the high concept.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
exceptional, November 27, 2018
by IFthenXYZZY
Related reviews: galatea

Above the vast expanse of interactive fiction, Galatea stands alone.

Emily Short has taken a block of code and crafted her vision of Galatea so perfectly it will reach from the screen and touch you. Unforgetable. Immortal interactive fiction.

The player is asked to abandon the comfort of traditional maps and mazes and enter into the labyrinth of conversation

While standard games reward the player with material trophies, or the pride of (relief of) having solved a puzzle, Short rewards the player with the feeling of human intimacy.

" ...My love is like a storybook story But it's as real as the feelings I feel..." ~ 'Storybook Love,' Mark Knopfler; The Princess Bride

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
First IF, June 2, 2016

A fascinating and complex character to interact with. Clearly the author went to a lot of work building this story. The first ending I found was quite sudden and surprising. Interacting with the game was difficult at first because I'm not overly familiar with IFs in general, but I quickly got the hang of it and was impressed by how many things had been programmed got her to respond to.

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Great, April 7, 2016
by maximusr
Related reviews: review4/

Great game, it is very similar to Cat Mario game and i really like playing it!

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Ivory , March 26, 2016

If there's a more convincing NPC in all of interactive fiction, I've yet to come across her. (I do dearly wish that Emily's updated Versu version in which one can play as Galatea had been made available.) Conversations don't get more plausible than this in a parser format.

It's also worth noting that, along with Aisle, this game introduced me to the peculiar strength of multiple endings in IF - that it's a format in which one needn't assume that any particular reading of the text is the correct one (let's face it, your average Choose Your Own Adventure has a great many bad endings, and tends to implicitly prioritise *winning* ones). This is a delicious storytelling technique for anyone even the slightest bit intrigued by metafiction, and I'm surprised it isn't used more often. Well-written to boot - a joy to play with.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
One of the first great conversation games, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

Galatea is set in an artificial intelligence exhibit. Galatea, a stone woman brought to life, has mistakenly (or purposefully) been placed here.

You are a journalist, interviewing her to determine how good her "artificial intelligence" is. The answers can lead to anger, romance, supernatural effects, and a host of other possibilities.

It is a fun game to play through a few times. The conversation system is just asking her about more and more things, but the variety is endless.

This game was groundbreaking when it was first released, although later innovations have improved on it (such as the major NPC in Blue Lacuna). This game remains an enjoyable classic, because it isn't just technically impressive, it's enjoyable.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Echoes a previous relationship in scope and power, March 18, 2015

Being that I played this game fifteen years after its release, interacting with Galatea is truly like speaking to a relic from a by-gone time. And just like her, that sense of an ancient creation is also misleading. The words she uses in this game, the descriptions, the sensations granted by interaction, everything about this game is amazing. Never on my life had I expected to run across a game that felt exactly like speaking to a person I had met in real life. In both real life and through chat our relationship was like many of the different paths a player can walk with Galatea. That in itself is haunting, and a testament to how powerful this game is. It's also fun and I had a great time with it. This game is beautiful.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Conversation with a statue, January 25, 2015

Galatea is all about interaction. You talk to a statue. She tells you things. You don't go anywhere, you don't solve any puzzles. You talk. Well, sometimes things can happen to finish the games that aren't just talk.

The statue herself, Galatea, is still one of the most sophisticated NPCs in IF. It's possible to exhaust her responses to certain topics, but there are always more topics. At least, I think there are. I haven't tried every single word I can think of. Galatea gets somewhat irked if one types the same thing again and again; IF players will do that to try and exhaust all topics. Good for her.

While the game may sound limited, the whole goal (I would say) is to tease out the emotional states of the statue and of the player. It's possible to do this in a fairly natural way, and this is the core strength of the game. There are some hints about the impact of Galatea's responses on the player character, but they tend to be muted. The effect on the human player is really up to personal taste. I found some themes dull (Spoiler - click to show)(animate vs. non-animate) and some powerful (Spoiler - click to show)(the goddess Aphrodite). In the end, you have to play the game yourself to decide.

On balance, I think the game transcends its deliberate limitations (a static conversation) to achieve some kind of catharsis (appropriate given the ancient Greek context). Yes, it's an exercise of style, but one that I think is worthwhile. As in much IF (and traditional fiction), the effect bordered on the manipulative, but for me it succeeded. (Spoiler - click to show)(In few games does one try so hard to see if the NPC can die - you have to decide if that's a good thing.)

The game has aged well and hits home. I can't think of a very similar follow-up; maybe I need to play more games.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
different and interesting, November 6, 2014

At first this game didn't do much for me, because I like plot-driven games, puzzles, etc. But after a little time, I realized how much depth there actually is beneath the surface. Upon closer inspection, it truly is a very well-written and nicely crafted psychological study. Worth playing more than once.

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