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(based on 49 ratings)
About the Story
You don't know how long you've been hammering against the station's wall, but you stop as soon as you realize what you've been doing.
Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: February 2, 2010
Current Version: 6
Development System: Inform 7
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
Nominee, Best Puzzles - 2010 XYZZY Awards
2nd Place - Casual Gameplay Design Competition #7
Pissy Little Sausages
That was a good puzzly sort of game, really solidly implemented. I had high expectations, and while it didn't exceed them exactly, it didn't... whatever the thing that is the opposite of that is called, either. Inceed. Subceed? Deceed. Undergo. Look, you know what I mean.
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Play This Thing
Like many another escape game, it has a single room full of objects to manipulate before you get to get away: codes, batteries, light sources, things that have to be used on other things. Unlike most, though, Fragile Shells has a coherent story and an effective setting: you're the lone survivor in a very damaged space module, and you need to get into the escape pod before your oxygen runs out or your environment otherwise betrays you. The writing makes it clear just how urgent that problem is, without the need for annoying or unfair time limits on the gameplay.
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Smartly designed and pleasantly eerie, Fragile Shells is worth a play if you're an escape fan looking for a nice workout for the ol' grey matter. The story doesn't particularly stand out, instead being eclipsed by puzzle solving, but the whole experience is so well made and a prime example of the genre that it should leave you with that nice warm glow inside of an escape cleanly made.
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Number of Reviews: 9
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Somewhere out there is a Platonic Ideal of the "Escape the Room" game genre. In my opinion, FRAGILE SHELLS comes remarkably close.
Most Escape the Room (EtR) games have a simple premise: there is a room full of stuff, and you must escape it. Most I've seen are graphical, nearly all have annoying codes and machines that make little logical sense, a few have interesting twists, and even fewer have any emotional motivation to escape provided rooms.
FRAGILE SHELLS gives me some things I've wanted in the genre (but never realized were missing): a compelling story behind the EtR setup, a subtle and intense feeling of danger, and puzzles that don't require me to write down stupid codes and patterns. Tapping into the emotional motivation behind escaping, though--that is where this game shines for me.
Also helpful: the obstacles you encounter (and how you solve them) make sense, so long as you closely examine everything. Even so, the hints are well-implemented, doling out just enough info to get your brain kick-started.
It's not the best IF game ever (I ran into a few implementation problems, and the technical aspects of the story still aren't crystal clear to me), but it's one of the best of the EtR genre.
Fragile Shells was written as an escape-the-more-or-less-one-room game. It embraces all the conventions of the genre: play consists of solving item manipulation puzzles, there are no NPCs, all the story is told through flashbacks rather than actions of the PC. It is a tired old genre, and Fragile Shells does nothing to rejuvenate it.
However, in the hands of Stephen Granade it suddenly doesn't seem so bad to revisit this old acquaintance. The puzzles are fair and of the right difficulty; the flashbacks keeps us interested in what happened to the player character and the environment he is in; and writing and implementation are solid enough that interacting with the game is a pleasure. Add to this that the game feels very coherent -- something that is often difficult to pull off in a puzzle-driven game -- and one has the perfect recipe for one or two hours of straightforward fun.
Fragile Shells does not point towards the future of interactive fiction. But it does prove that recreating better versions of the past will always remain worthwhile.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is good work!
"Fragile Shells" is an excellently made text escape game. It consists of a series of interconnected puzzles, all of them solvable by using logic, common sense and a ready knowledge of basic physics.
Maybe too easy for some, but I found that the layering of one puzzle onto another, linking their solutions together into one clear chain from the givens to the conclusion was very satisfying indeed.
Just about every command I tried had a meaningful response, a very friendly game indeed.
Add to this an exciting backstory remembered in bits and pieces by the protagonist to frame it, and you get a short and delightful IF-gem.
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