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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful:A brave, engaging work, June 7, 2013
by Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.)
Related reviews: victor gjisbers
Play it if: you're interested in spending half an hour with a courageous, if flawed, moral allegory with overtones of Nietzsche.
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Andromache, June 7, 2013 - Reply
Yes. When I played this game, I found myself sympathetic to the gargoyle and the wolf and totally annoyed with the Baron. The gargoyle was murky because he says his victims lose everything emotionally because of him, and I was horrified by that but at the same time, the wording was such that a part of me thought some of them would recover in time, even if others ultimately committed suicide due to depression/apathy. Being that I know people who have kicked tobacco habits and survived depression, I do honestly feel that rehab and change is possible. I'm not so sure about the issue of sex offense, but I didn't know that was the issue at the time.
I didn't know we could opt not to interact with Maartje. I just resigned myself to the inevitable and tried to be as kind as possible, whatever that means. I think a good ending would have been the PC going into the bedroom, kissing Maartje, and that's it. This way, the implications are there but could go either way. I don't think the questioning of my evaluation of the PC (or his evaluation of himself) is strictly necessary and detracts from the story by bringing me into it.
Edit: I liked the exploration aspect. It made the contrast between the house and the castle much more vivid by experiencing it interactively, and as a player, I don't just want to turn pages. I want to play a game, you know?
Jim Kaplan, June 8, 2013 - Reply
Sure, I agree. I think my issue comes from the player being able to literally decide the PC's internal state rather than revealing it through words and choices. A conversation tree which asks "Are you angry?" is less effective than one which lets you choose between an angry response and a less angry one.
Regarding the exploration, I also enjoyed those little details, but felt a little disoriented without anything other than intuition to tell me where to go, which was my gamer sense acting up. Were this a game, I would recommend puzzles as a means of shaping those side explorations and making them rewarding. But as the Nietzschean allegorical tone poem it's meant to be, I think greater geographical linearity is justified. There are still ways of including exploration into a linear map.
Victor Gijsbers, June 7, 2013 - Reply
Thanks for your very thoughtful review!
I agree with your comment that just breaking the cycle "is too easy to be true". But I would add that if the piece makes you experience taking the "just choosing not to" ending as cheap and unrealistic, it has achieved one of its aims. If you feel that that ending cannot be true, then its existence does not function as a get-out-of-jail-free card ... perhaps it does for the PC, but it certainly does not for the player, and it is the player who matters.
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Jim Kaplan, June 7, 2013 - Reply
I think you may have a point. On my part, when I think about those last two choices I'm thinking about the purpose they serve in a structured narrative rather than an exercise in player choice. In terms of creating a satisfying narrative and allegorical structure, I think ending it when the PC is about to enter the bedroom is better. In terms of letting the player more fully shape their experience, though, I'll agree with you that those final choices are good.
To put it another way: insofar as ambiguity is an important element of the experience, an ambiguous ending is good. Insofar as player choice is an important element of the experience, a player-decided (therefore less ambiguous) ending is good.