The Weight of a Soul

by Chin Kee Yong profile

Mystery
2021

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Number of Reviews: 4
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent multi-act game in gothic urban fantasy environment, April 6, 2021
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 2-10 hours

This is the kind of game that comes along only once every few years, especially recently: a polished parser game that lasts far longer than 2 hours.

The author is inspired by Anchorhead, Blue Lacuna, and City of Secrets. Of those 3, I find this game to be closest to City of Secrets in both play style and prose style.

You are a medical student trying to solve a mystery: a mysterious black plague is destroying people in your city, and you have to help them.

To solve this, you need to go through 4 acts (plus a beginning and interlude) to reach the depths of the mystery.

The map for this game is quite large, and it comes with an in-game graphical map that looks great.

Like Anchorhead and Blue Lacuna, gameplay is divided into days. Unlike those games, gameplay is narrowly funneled. This game reads more like a movie than a novel, with an emphasis on scripted conversations and scripted action scenes. Only rarely are there simultaneous puzzles, and the most difficult puzzle is generally learning to navigate the impressively large and responsive city environment, which has both randomized events and time-based changes.

This is a love story, too, with multiple love interests and multiple endings. Romance plays a key role in numerous scenes. It uses other movie-like techniques, including a lot of foreshadowing and an emphasis on visual and aural descriptions (okay, that's not just in movies, but it just feels like a movie).

There have been two really negative reviews of Anchorhead in recent years, criticizing that game for not being 'funneled' enough, for having too open of a world, too subtle of story, not enough romance, etc. This game directly addresses all of those issues, with its constrained gameplay and copious allowances (such as a GO TO feature, in-game map and journal with a list of goals). On the other hand, for fans of the open world, exploration, and difficult puzzles of Anchorhead, it may pose too slight of a challenge. Blue Lacuna was in a similar spot, and offered two versions: a story version and a puzzle version.

For me, though, I enjoyed playing through this game, and truly consider it a rare game. I think it will do well in the XYZZY awards for 2021, and makes me want to try my hand at something like this, although I expect it would take as many years as the author's original did.

The polish on this game is impeccable, the setting and prose is descriptive, I'd definitely play again, the interactivity is a bit narrow but has several fun puzzles (including [mild spoilers](Spoiler - click to show)a nice math one), and emotionally was satisfying. Recommended for fans of story-focused parser games. I spent around 5 hours on this game.

Review for 2017 Spring Thing preview:
This game is advertised as being incomplete, but a very large chunk of it is done. Playing it is like playing 'episode 1' of a large series.

The setting is unusual: you are in a large and decaying city where magic and science are blended together. Scalpels and anesthesia blend with goblins and soul magic.

I found the opening to be a bit constraining (which is something I do in my own games, too), but that after that the game was rich and rewarding. Locations have several interactible details, conversations feel natural, and I felt like a real detective.

I enjoyed the large feeling of the city, something difficult to do right in an interactive fiction game. I did get a bit lost from time to time. Locations were unique and vividly described.

I would love to see this finished.