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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

2 of 2 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 2 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 2 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.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A uniquely beautiful experience, July 16, 2014
by Alyssa Barstow (California)

I must have played through Galatea for at least two hours exploring all of the options. It was beautiful, intriguing, surprising, and sweet. I am still amazed at how it felt like a real conversation rather than playing a game. The first and only IF I have played that had no story progression, only exploration. Parser is polished. Overall a stunning must play on IF.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Behind the curtain, January 31, 2014
by scottmbruner (alameda, california)

I have a lot of thoughts on this piece that wouldn't fit in a review. It's so well written, such a fascinating concept - and perhaps the best IF I've ever experienced that takes place completely through conversation and the haunts of memory, and desire...

...but I was disappointed in how un-Eliza it felt, that I kept approaching the animate Galatea as I might a computer program or Exploratorium exhibit to poke around in and never believed she was a living, breathing NPC. I didn't feel like the things I did had any real effect on her emotions - even though I knew that they did (considering Emily Short's IF talent and other works) and I also grew frustrated that so many of the things I wanted to chat about I couldn't...and then, when I peeked (after a few interesting endings) at a walkthrough, I noticed so many things I hadn't thought of...

...but I was also frustrated I never knew to say get down (instead of leave, step down, come with me) though the one "true" desire I'd had during the experience was a wish to get her off the pedestal.

That being said, Galatea does offer a markerstone experiment for how NPCs can react and be dynamic, though the lack of context and conflict make me wish so much to see her again with a story for me to truly be invested in.

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Galatea Little Brute, October 16, 2012

Ha! I had to laugh when the statue typed back to me. Good one!

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Great Premise, September 9, 2012

CAVEAT: IF player here who prefers games heavier on narrative than puzzles.

I admit, I started out a little frustrated. I would ask Galatea about senses. She would list a bunch except for pleasure. So, I would try and ask her if she felt pleasure. Nothing programmed for that. She would tell me that the artist gave her away. I would try and ask how that made Galatea feel in a number of different ways. Nothing programmed for that.

It seemed everything I tried that I thought was relevant to what we had been talking about did not exist in the program. I found myself crying out, what do you want from me, Emily?

I realized I was approaching this the wrong way. I was thinking about the spaces between. I was thinking about what was implied in the conversation rather than what was said. Couldn't see the trees for the forest kinda deal.

Once I learned how to limit my thoughts and expectations to searching for key words in the conversation to trigger the game to move forward is when I started to really enjoy it.

I liked it so much, I ended up playing through it three times in a row to test out where various responses led. I will definitely be playing again to explore some other avenues of conversation with Galatea.

Loved the premise of the piece, too.

Don't forget to ask Galatea about cheese :)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
One I'll Return To Many a Time, August 12, 2012

As a new IF player, I often find myself stuck, lost in an unfamiliar world where every step could get me killed. This one, I think, came at just the right time not too long ago.
It's not a difficult game to "beat"--though I use that term loosely--but every move, it seems, generates a different ending, rather than a different death.
And what amazing endings they are.
I was very impressed by the writing in this, first and foremost. Every description, detail, action was described so eloquently that I couldn't help but get caught up in it. Not to mention that I'm quite a fan of Greek mythology, and the use here fascinated me.
One of the few things that struck me as not so great is the limited amount of things to do. Personally, and specifically for this game, I think it works. However, if you're looking for a sprawling map and a lot of places to explore... But really, I didn't think that was much of a problem. It's simple, and I liked that.
So, in short, brilliant ideas for the endings, wonderful writing, and an accessible and fun game. What's not to love? Great for a quick game, when you have a little spare time to enjoy a really cool bit of game.

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Puzzling, September 5, 2011
by Deboriole (San Diego, CA)

I literally had no idea what to do when I started this game. After having finished it, I still don't fully understand it. I just kept asking questions and hoping Galatea would reply. I found it interesting that the game would end whenever I would start divulging personal information, so I tried to just keep asking questions rather than telling stories. It's an interesting concept for a game, for sure. I found it challenging but there really is no right or wrong way to play.

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting as a concept for NPCs, May 25, 2011
by ZUrlocker (Santa Cruz, CA)

Galatea is interesting as it makes a point of emphasizing story telling through interaction with an NPC. While I think it's a great concept and will help illustrate the level of sophisticated interaction that can be done in a game, I think it's more of an interesting exercise for authors than necessarily a superb standalone work. I admit the Pygmalion reference was lost on me and I had trouble figuring out the right interactions with Galatea. Sadly the story ended just as I thought it was getting interesting. Still, a breakthrough in its time and Emily Short has done tremendous work to push the envelope in IF.

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting Experiment, June 9, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

There are two ways to take Galtea- like there are two ways to take most IF nowadays: as a game, and as an experiment.

As a game, this offers very little. You try to come up with things to ask Galatea, and she will respond, and you can ask her more, or tell her things.

As an experinment in NPCs, this goes very deeply, and offers a lot for a writer of IF to learn when programming his own NPCs.

There is very little to do except to speak to the statue, and the statue (as far as I've seen), doesn't speak to you on her own, except for before you speak to her, kind of as a hint that this is what you're supposed to do. The author provides a good RECAP command to help you learn what topic you've covered and if there is more to cover on the subject.

The NPC is tragic, and you can't help but feel for her- which is the point, I suppose. It gives a lot to live up to in form of an individual NPC, and it's something anyone thinking of writing IF should play, if only for inspiration, and anyone interested in IF as an art form should definately look at. People who prefer games over story might be disappointed.

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful:
Giving Meaning To Art, December 4, 2009
by TempestDash (Cincinnati, Ohio)

On the surface, Galatea is a relatively simple game. You are an art critic, and you are standing in one room of a gallery observing a piece of art. The piece of art and its podium are the only things in the room, and you can’t leave the room or the game ends. So there is really only one thing you can do: interact with the piece of art. Fortunately, the piece of art is Galatea, the statue come to life of the Cypriot sculptor Pygmalion from Greek myth. In the game, Pygmalion is gone now, for reasons not initially clear, but Galatea has a lot to say about him and herself if you choose to ask.

The game’s simple structure belies its careful construction (much like the eponymous statue herself). Nearly all of the gameplay involves asking Galatea questions and turning her answers into more questions to ask. Through discussion, you learn about Galatea’s past, how she was created, and, depending on what chain of dialog you choose to follow, what might be in her future. There is not a singular solution, but dozens, and most are distinct from each other, rather than variations on a theme.

I enjoyed the game thoroughly, though I did have to turn to a walkthrough to get more than a handful of endings. Ultimately, who Galatea is and why she exists is not predetermined. As you play the game, and approach certain paths, her responses change and she starts to more firmly manifest a single form. But the next time you play the game, she’ll be back to a blank slate again and your questions may push her destiny in another direction.

In concept, I find this style of gameplay intriguing. The idea that a character is nobody until she is interacted with; it definitely has potential as a metaphor for human existence and bears similarity to the idea of tabula rasa, first posited by Aristotle, another Grecian historical figure. Unfortunately, the concept is not directly embodied in the game very much – at least to my recollection – and is more of a meta-concept than a deliberate one. I would love to see a game use this idea more overtly, where a series of blank forms are given purpose and even history by the player through their interactions with them.

In any case, the execution of this idea is entertaining for a while but starts to lose its novelty the longer you play and start to see the seams at the edges. Once you start to understand how certain discussions lead to certain endings, you can see more clearly where Galatea’s purpose seems to shift dramatically from one question to the next if you don’t follow the preferred line of inquiry. So, in the end, the game glows with the wonder of possibility at first... then rapidly fades the longer you play with her.

Which is a shame, really, because that is the exact opposite of the progression of the player character – the art critic – in the game. It seems his initial reaction is one of boredom, but the longer he talks with Galatea, the more his interest grows and he begins to realize how much more she is than the simple plaque beside her podium states. I’m almost envious of the critic by the end, because in the endings where his life seems to progress alongside Galatea’s, it’s clear his eyes have been opened to possibilities that were never there before. It makes my growing awareness of the limitation of the game feel depressing in contrast.

But, then again, I cared what happened to Galatea, and that’s really the goal of any artist, right? To get me to care about their creation? Regardless of the ending you reach, Galatea has a strong voice that I really took to. I just wish we could both have reached a satisfying end.

4 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
A remarkable experiment., January 16, 2009
by James Jolley (Peterborough, United Kingdom)
Related reviews: Conversational Games

This has to be one of the finest examples of NPC interactivity yet seen in IF. Speaking to an exhibit for 10 or 15 minutes might seem rather strange, but her variety of topics can take you from greek myths to the meaning of life and or death. Recommended for anyone wanting to see developments in IF characterization.

Other games have improved on her initial premise, that being to create the most interactive NPC. Her later works do more interesting things with conversation generally, but don't let this stop you from trying the first real effort to push the boundaries.

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful:
Overrated among Short's games, July 28, 2008

Galatea is an intricately detailed work of high concept. I wanted to like it - I can't get enough NPC interaction, and this has somehow acquired a reputation as the best NPC out there. Despite this, I found this to be deeply flawed and ultimately unsatisfying, both as a character and as a work of IF.

There is really nothing to interact with except for Galatea herself. Her presentation as an animate statue is a clever vehicle for metatextual commentary, but it is also a bit of Turing-camouflage. This is just fine; it comes with the territory. But I found that it gave me little motivation to interact with Galatea except to test her repertoire and see what the fuss was about. Unfortunately, I felt that my options were limited (once I had guessed that they were possible) and that Galatea's repertoire - though larger than perhaps any other NPC I have encountered in a game - often felt canned.

That may be why I began to find it more satisfying to treat the whole thing as a story than to talk to Galatea as such. So I began to look for interesting endings. This was tedious because it required me to explore an apparently tractless space of possible conversations with few-to-no systematic clues. And this tedium was amplified by the amount of repetitive manipulation required to move Galatea's meters around to get into new combinations. These issues might have been addressed by a shallower conversation-tree, requiring fewer moves to get to endings, or by more systematic relationships between available actions and where they sent the game; either one amounts to handing over more control over where the game goes in the end. But this is also contrary to what I've gathered to be the basic philosophy of the game - to be deep and unpredictable, not to yield up all the endings. Beyond relatively unimportant bits like poor information on my options, I think it is this mismatch which made my response to Galatea so tepid.

Nonetheless, I doubt this would have become a factor if I had not felt that the process of talking with Galatea was only instrumentally worthwhile, as a way of getting paths through a game. Context - to be specific, the lack of it - may be part of that problem. I felt a nearly equivalent impact from Bob in She's Got a Thing for Spring even though his "mind" must be far smaller and less complex than Galatea's. Seen critically Bob is a largely unresponsive scriptoid, absent-minded and repetitive. But he has things he does, even if only in fiction; he lives somewhere, walks around, owns things, asks and offers, and speaks just enough of a social past to be a person rather than a a book. As a result, one is inclined to think that his mind is (or was). In the harsh spotlight, Galatea's glitches and her total absorption in her own memories make her more of an object than even a fictional and manufactured person.

4 of 18 people found the following review helpful:
Sex is NG, March 28, 2008
by isd (Tokyo)

I tried to ask about sex then the game ended... because sex is a NG conversation topic it seems.
I guess I mistook the piece of art for "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon".

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting, but I couldn't get into it, November 7, 2007
by Kake (London, England)
Related reviews: Emily Short, ***

Although I really like the premise of this, and I had a fair bit of sympathy/empathy for Galatea-the-character, I don't feel I really enjoyed the game, despite around twenty replays. It may be my playing style, but I found it very easy to fall into repetitive dead-ends, and I never managed to find an ending that I thought was really satisfying.

I very much don't want this review to put anyone else off playing Galatea, though; the time spent on playing is a worthwhile gamble.

5 of 39 people found the following review helpful:
Futile Guesswork, October 26, 2007
by AmberShards (The Gothic South)

Are you ready to be clobbered over the head with the 2x4 of modern man-hating female disparagement? If so, Galatea is the game for you. Many have crowed about the interactivity, but interactivity with a self-righteous female, statue or no, is not enjoyable. (Modern spineless males will enjoy the exercise in self-torture, doubtless.) Because the game goals are so vague, there's no real way to advance to the next state of conversation without playing an updated version of "guess the verb" called "guess the conversation topic". Thirty minutes of futile guesswork was enough for me. Galatea gets two stars for coding genius alone. As far as games go, it's a dud.

6 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Extensive interaction and characterization, October 21, 2007
by Michael R. Bacon (New Mexico)

This is the work I recommend most highly of all interactive fiction.

Galatea exemplifies wonderful characterization, character interaction, and open-ended (within a very small framework, granted) gameplay. The entirety of the game takes place in one room and is made up of interactions (primarly conversation) with the statue-character named Galatea. Reaching an ending is not hard, but making the choices to find every ending that one wants is a challenging endeavor.

Facade (known as a landmark in character interaction and AI) is very derivative of this system of gameplay, though it is far less interesting or involving.

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