Of Their Shadows Deep

by Amanda Walker profile


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Number of Ratings: 16
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1-16 of 16

- Edo, August 17, 2023

- elysee, May 4, 2023

- NorkaBoid (Ohio, USA), February 17, 2023

- Denk, January 31, 2023

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), November 24, 2022

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A profoundly inspiring and deeply moving experience, October 18, 2022
by walktothesun (Seattle, WA, USA)

Though I have considered myself a fan of gaming, broadly speaking, for most of my life, I see myself as essentially brand new to interactive fiction. The point-and-click adventure games of the late 1980s and early 1990s were what initially captured my heart in my youth. Interactive fiction always lingered around my periphery, but never outright captured my gaming attention. That is, that was the case until only very recently. For reasons that I’d be happy to share in more detail in perhaps another forum, Of Their Shadows Deep was the first title I selected to dive into this contemporary form of the genre.

From the outset, I was struck by the conscientiousness of the accessibility options and tutorial. I could clearly see that great care and attention to detail was given to gently guide the player through the initial setup. For me, one eager to experience interactive fiction anew, but a bit rusty to the intricacies of parser-based interactive fiction, this initial tutorial immediately set any anxieties I may have had at ease.

The world and setting of Of Their Shadows Deep felt intimate and gentle, buttressed by Amanda Walker’s beautifully evocative prose. This was a world I was happy to linger and to dwell within. The riddles within the game never adversely interfered with my exploration of this world. I generally welcome all sorts of puzzles and riddles in games, even of more difficult forms like obscure riddles, brain teasers, and abstract puzzles. But in this particular case, the balance of the riddles’ difficulty felt right here, more forgiving, especially juxtaposed against the contemplative central theme of the game.

The serendipity of finding this game comes at a period of my life where I have been wrestling and toiling to find suitable mediums to express and share the stories of my own heart. The poignancy of the game’s central message-- (Spoiler - click to show)a deeply personal mourning and processing of the degenerative loss of language and words, and the compounding tragedy of witnessing an unavoidable loss within those for whom we deeply care for, who had also held their own passion for language-- overlaid against my own struggles to express myself yielded an important and apropos aspect of the fragility and impermanence of our stowed words, our language, our expressions. Through Of Their Shadows Deep, given my own proclivities, I feel as though I have come to a slightly better understanding of the risks of heralding my own self-inflicted tragedy by continuing to keep many of my words locked away, but also the importance those same words hold. The power and beauty of the language we express and share with one another cannot be overstated, because they serve as our connections to one another. We are never guaranteed our ability to express our language, lest we lose it forever. A deeply moving and vitally important message that I needed to hear.

Of Their Shadows Deep is a short game, one that can be completed within a few hours or so. As I said before, I like to linger and dwell within worlds like this, and I was able to complete it in about 4 hours or so. Even though this world is relatively small and the experience relatively short, it was without question a treasured and cherished experience; one that I will not soon forget. It has greatly inspired me in numerous ways, especially as I embark on sharing some of the ideas and stories that I’ve been holding onto that I intend to create as works of interactive fiction (ones that feel suitable to tell as IF). I very much look forward to experiencing more of Amanda Walker's previous and hopefully future works.

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- OverThinking, September 28, 2022

- E.K., September 8, 2022

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A touching and descriptive riddle game with beautiful text art, August 28, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This game was entered in the 2022 Parsercomp, and I helped beta test it. It came in second, but only by a fraction of some points, and is an excellent game.

This is a metaphorical story which, as told in the authors notes, is somewhat autobiographical, and touches on dementia. You are exploring some woods and a ravine to try to get firewood for your home while also recovering your mother's lost words. The writing and tone feels a lot like the 1800s gothic novels, like The Mystery of Udolpho.

The lost words take the form of riddle-poems. When solved (and playing in a graphics-compatible mode), they take the form of the solution to the puzzle.

The riddles are less of a purposely-frustrating-and-obfuscated description of something, and more of a description of something using highly figurative language. That doesn't necessarily make it easier, as I struggled with a couple of the notes for a few minutes, but in a good kind of struggle that made the game more engaging.

The writing is descriptive and evocative, similar to this author's other works. The real-life connection shines through, making it clear that the author cares about this subject and about the people in her life.

Overall, a satisfying game and one not to miss.

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- Jade68, August 21, 2022

- Jim Nelson (San Francisco), August 10, 2022

- Kinetic Mouse Car, August 4, 2022

- Dan Fabulich, July 10, 2022

- Vivienne Dunstan (Dundee, Scotland), July 8, 2022

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A poetic word game, July 4, 2022
by jkj
Related reviews: parsercomp 2022

# Of Their Shadows Deep: A poetic word game

By Amanda Walker.

> Special thanks to my wonderful testers: Drew Cook, Dark Star, Jade, Zed Lopez, Mathbrush, Eva Radke, Edo Rajh, and Mike Russo. I could never get anything done without their generous help.

(Spoiler - click to show)
Initially i didn't really want to play this game as it is described to be about dementia. Not especially exciting i thought, but thankfully, playing the game, it is not so much directly about dementia but rather inspired by it.

The writing is excellent, vivid and image provoking. The game claims to have "graphics", but rather than illustrations they are, in fact, _pictures_ of words that you need to collect. Quite original.

The game mechanic is almost entirely solving riddles. Either you're good at riddles or you're not. It's like those cryptic crossword puzzles. Some people just good at them and some are terrible. I'm terrible. But thankfully, the riddles here are not super cryptic and are solvable after a little reasonable thought.

The game doesn't exactly have a story per se, but a sequence of riddle puzzles yielding words and objects that allow the player to proceed to the next stage. As such the gameplay is essentially linear.

Nevertheless, the game is quite novel and interesting, where the words and riddles are also presented in a poetic frame as a kind-of reward.

I didn't use the hints or walkthrough, so the difficulty is nicely balanced and enjoyable to play.

Although this game was for "parser comp", like always, it would have helped to have clickable links and word completion for entry in the user interface.

I didn't find any bugs, although i did get some minor oddities.


>stroke cat
That's not something you want or need to do.

>light candle
This dangerous act would achieve little.

You can see a cat here.
>eat cat
You aren't hungry. Your stomach is knotted with grief.

>look gate
A rusty gate in the barbed wire fence.
>remove it
You aren't wearing the rusty gate.

If you're missing something toward the end, the game gently reminds you, which is neat.

> You have an urge to return to the ravine. You have a nagging feeling there's something there you're missing.

The words you collect, predictably, come together for the end-game puzzle which is also nicely done and presented in an ASCII word picture.

In conclusion, well worth playing for the novel game mechanic and inspired writing, although the puzzle mechanic is essentially all the same, albeit well presented.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Simple, elegant, beautiful, and touching, July 3, 2022

This is a simple game, beautifully written, forgiving and elegant in its execution. It is a relatively short but very memorable experience, and definitely recommended.

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