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Explore odd rooms in a fortress, January 21, 2023
Habeas Corpus is a short game submitted to a jam with the rule of being no longer than 1,000 words. It is a surreal story about finding a way out of a decaying place, and yet this is not a typical escape game. I have a habit for writing excessively long reviews so I will try to do the same thing here!
You awake in a decrepit moving fortress, unsure of who you are. Even your own reflection is unfamiliar. All you have are five rooms to explore: Dormitory, Armory, Engine room, Concourse, and Nexus, where the game begins. The gameplay predominantly uses the “approach,” “examine,” and “talk” command that are available in certain rooms. Some rooms seem to be merely atmospheric. While this game is largely exploratory, there are some small puzzles about searching your surroundings to finding clues about your whereabouts.
There is minimal exposition on the story. It's ambiguous but no means incomplete, either. We are not sure of why we are in the fortress or the protagonist’s backstory. It left me with some questions. For instance, (Spoiler - click to show) is the dying body in the dormitory supposed to be yourself? Are you dead? That was my initial impression. But for a game of no more than 1,000 words it does well in sewing together a story out of a surreal concept (although I know the jam gives you more wiggle room than other jams that only allow 100 words).
The game’s description explains that there are multiple endings. I only found two: (Spoiler - click to show) LOTUS-EATER and FIRMAMENT, the second appearing to be the “good” ending. It’s a nice ending enough ending about (Spoiler - click to show) escaping with the harpy that effectively concludes the gameplay.
The appearance is snazzily stylized. The text is white with an angular font. Links are either dynamic animated black 3D boxes or glowing peach colour links. The latter bounces when you click on it, cycling between two to four words that provide extra descriptions. The background is horizontal black and dark grey stripes. Meanwhile, the top of the screen is a panel of red and dark red horizontal strips with a grey border. Slowly, these panel colours change as you explore. The panel has buttons for each room, next to each are door icons. I’d say this is a polished and clever design!
It is not a particularly memorable game or one that I would play again, but it is one that I enjoyed and replayed to find the endings. Some of it even has a few Porpentine vibes. If you are a fellow fan of Porpentine or of G.C. Baccaris’s other works (be sure to try Heretic’s Hope, it’s quite a thrill), Habeas Corpus is a fun option.