Of Their Shadows Deep

by Amanda Walker profile

Semi-Autobiographical
2022

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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.

Examples:

``
>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.