Blue Chairs

by Chris Klimas


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Number of Reviews: 13
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A classic of Story IF, July 1, 2018
by osfameron
Related reviews: If Comp 2004

This was my favourite game of IFComp 2004, and I always felt that "it wuz robbed" with its (admittedly pretty creditable) 2nd place: it had the most 9s and 10s of any of the games, by some distance, but also divided opinion.

Essentially it's Story IF, and many people much preferred the (incomprehensible to me) All Things Devours which took 3rd place. In any case, it's no surprise that Klimas went on to invent the Twine system for hyperfiction. But how does Blue Chairs -- a parser game, implemented in Inform rather than hypertext -- stack up, more than a decade later?

The implementation is pretty strong. Most of the things you want to do have well-written responses that push the game forward, and the scenes that span multiple turns are well handled. I did find myself jumping to the hints more often than perhaps I should for a story-centric game, perhaps a more modern version of this would hint things better, or have alternative solutions presented automatically?

(On a side note, it says something about these times that the desert scene made me oddly nostalgic.)

I don't know if Klimas found Parser IF limiting, or just harder to write (this was Inform 6, written in an OO-style, as it predated Inform 7's rule-based, "natural language" style.)

In any case, Blue Chairs is a classic of Story IF. It has its flaws, but it's well worth a read.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Beautiful story, much left ambiguous, March 16, 2016

I loved it - it develops into something not at all what you'd expect from the beginning, becoming a beautifully poignant tale with great writing- it gets a bit flabby in the middle (Spoiler - click to show)around the maze section as the story doesn't really develop there, and some might not even realise how far it goes, with some of the early possible endings.
I agonised over whether it was a 4/5 star piece- there are a couple of puzzles you'll need to use the hint system for-
But it has some really wonderful insightful and affecting writing- was surprised how young the author was when he wrote this, from the supporting documentation! Really beautiful, although much is still left very ambiguous.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Long, trippy journey through a surreal landscape, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

Blue Chairs is (literally) trippy. After an interesting transaction at a college party, you take a surreal journey through this world and variants of it. Something like an adaptation of Dante's Inferno by James Joyce.

The game contains drug references and strong profanity.

The puzzles are mostly reasonable, although I needed a walkthrough in the convenience store.

As a literary work, it is well written and well done. As a game, the puzzles are interesting and well-connected with the story.

However, I don't really recommend the game. I didn't like the atmosphere and feeling of the game. Everyone's tastes are different, and many people will enjoy this game, but I felt uncomfortable with parts of it.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Featured on Radio K #6, January 17, 2016
by Adam Cadre (Albany, California)

Katherine Morayati and I discuss Blue Chairs at

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
One heck of a Ride!, December 31, 2014
by Chai Hai (Kansas City KS)

I enjoyed this immensely. Several different settings, and a nice plot too. A lot of thought was put into this, it's extremely well written.

My biggest concern was the store maze. That certainly got repetitive ( had to look at the walkthrough to figure the end of that out) but I loved the people you met in the supermarket. The rooms you went into were unique enough to keep me satiated, and I wasn't too annoyed by the maze.

I loved this game's theme of life changes, it was really poignant and definitely gave you a lot to think about. Bravo!

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Mysterious green liquids, May 6, 2011
by Aintelligence (Canada)

Don't do drugs.  I think that just about sums up this whole piece.  Of course the moral could be don't step inside freezers if you stop at a gas station, or for that matter it could be promoting the game Carcassonne.  Yes, it was that type of game; the type where I ask myself what the heck i'm doing inside playing this game.  I can't really see what the charm really is with it.  A guy does drugs, goes slightly delusional, and tries to get to his friend.  There that's the main storyline.

Now it isn't really that the implementation was bad at all.  It was very good.  I didn't find any kinks in in the puzzles (most of them fairly straightforward), I wasn't verb guessing, and there were multiple endings (which was nice).  However, the plot itself absolutely was incredibly confusing.  Instead of sticking with a straightforward line, the plot dives off either side into simply extraneous and pointless puzzles.  It felt almost like the author wasn't sure where to take the story and decided to confuse the issue.  It goes from trying to get a drive to your friend's to walking in an endless maze.

I think that the most frustrating thing about it was that the author expects the readers to understand a whole bunch of in-game allegories.  Many of the puzzles hinted that what you saw was referring to "the bigger picture".  (Spoiler - click to show) for example, In the freezer maze, the people that we see (Carcassonne girls, old man, monsters etc. Are surely supposed to mean something, but it made absolutely no sense and felt like I was doing busy work   there were so many questions which the story threw at me that in the end, the story made no sense, and left fifty pieces which made no sense.  Yes I know the main character is under the influence of drugs, but it just doesn't work giving readers a bunch of pointless dead ends.

I know many people are going to be annoyed at this saying that I've missed it altogether, and please leave a comment, but I really felt like this was trying to look way more deep than it really is.  I didn't like it, but due to the mixed reviews it's a detonate must play.

4 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Extremely overrated, June 5, 2010
by Nusco (Bologna, Italy)
Related reviews: IF Competition 2004

Average geek takes drugs and dreams his way through a confusing game. Pretentious, condescending tone, as if the author is trying to teach you something very profound. The competent implementation and writing is not enough to make this game less irritating.

I have to make use of the standard disclaimer here: although I didn't like it (and arguably I didn't get it), most players consider Blue Chairs a modern classic, and this game got close to winning the 2004 IF Comp. So it's a game that deserves to played. At the very worst, you'll be as disappointed as I was.

1 of 20 people found the following review helpful:
The Donnie Darko of interactive fiction, December 17, 2009
by Andreas Teufel (Poland)

Blue Chairs is the Donnie Darko of interactive fiction. In other words pretentious meaningless crap!

Surrealism for the sake of it and nothing to back it up. Nothing in the dream sequences has any relation to the main story, nothing in the dream sequences has any internal tie. Blue chairs?! They mean nothing. Surrealism always comes hand in hand with symbolism, but there is none whatsoever in this utter waste of time. I really feel cheated of my time, that's why I won't mention any of the postitive aspects of this "game". None of the NPCs, some of which could have been very interesting if more developed, has any more function than being a placeholder or MacGuffin. And don't get me started about the end!

I would have given a 2 if it were not for the fucking MAZE. (the author uses "fuck" a lot so I do it as well) This is also where the hint system fails.

How can this win any award, let alone best game?!

For a similar, much better, game try Narcolepsy, it's not perfect either but at least it doesn't have a maze!

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Technically great, full of symbolistic smugness, December 28, 2008
by kba (berlin)

I played Blue Chairs because I looked specifically for games with a surreal setting and surreal is what I got. The opening scene is really great, both technically and as a plot device, and it seems like the start of some psychedelic fun. But it isn't really psychedelic, it felt more like the stoned ramblings of a preachy zen-buddhist who read too much wikipedia on Freudian pychoanalysis. Then again, I don't know what kind of drug I, the player that is, is on.

I have no problem with games with a message, but either I didn't really get it or I'm not interested in it.

But mine is a very subjective point of view: The game is flawles technically, has various endings and if you are into psychology of the sub-consiciousness, symbolism and new-age-isms or just more tolerant than me, you will love it.

Even though I didn't like it I advise you to play it, it deserves it!

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Surrealism at its best, June 18, 2008
by probabilityZero (Folsom, CA)

From the moment I saw the title page, I was hooked. I've played through this game numerous times, and I've yet to tire of it.

The dream-like feeling of it all is pulled off perfectly. With the sort of style it is easy to come across sounding pretentious and overly-complicated, but the author here manages to make it all feel natural.

Overall, it's a well constructed, interesting, and artistic game. I highly recommend it to anyone, even those who don't like IF.

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