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6th Place overall; 1st Place, Miss Congeniality Awards - 12th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2006)
Winner, Best Writing; Winner, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best NPCs; Winner, Best Individual Puzzle; Winner, Best Individual PC - 2006 XYZZY Awards
The first puzzle is a kind of maze, although more like Robert Abbott's "logic mazes" than the twisty little variety that everyone seems to hate. [...] To put it briefly, I loved this puzzle. The mansion opens up a little bit at a time as you play. Manipulating the mansion properly will allow you to reach a new area, which you can use to manipulate another bit of the mansion, which will allow you to reach another new area... and it keeps going on like that until you've explored the entire place. You always have either a new room to visit or a new thing to play with. This pacing kept me interested and engaged through the entire puzzle. [...]
My recommendation: Get this game, and just play the first half. (That's until you use the first intention.) That half of the game is well designed and well worth your time.
-- DJ Hastings
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Number of Reviews: 11
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
The player character enters a mansion, anticipating a party which is to occur there later. He cannot interact with the environment in the usual way - however, the mansion reacts to his presence, reconfiguring itself depending on his actions.
This is a fascinating game - especially at first, when trying to work out exactly what is going on. The lack of the ability to pick up or manipulate objects in the normal way seems frustrating initially, but it's easy to adjust to. One great feature is a notepad that tracks what the player character has discovered about the workings of the mansion - a nice touch.
The second part of the game has split reviewers more. This takes place in the same mansion, while aforementioned party is going on. The events of the party are fractured in time: the same characters appear in different locations simultaneously, to indicate their participation in events at different stages of the evening. The player must collect "intentions" and unite them with the appropriate person. In doing this, a murderous (albeit poetic) tapestry is unravelled.
I thought both parts were intriguing and original. The first is indeed a stronger concept and more satisfying to solve, but the second part is startling (and, in places, baffling) enough to make it distinctive.
This is an exceedingly difficult game to review. The writing is wryly Victorian and often amusing, the mechanics are quite transgressive, and the "story" is ambiguous enough to allow for several satisfying interpretations. You can't die, but it's fiendishly difficult at times, while at others it's ethereally simple. Despite the fact that I despise the first half of it, the second is brilliant enough that I can't bear to rate it below four stars.
One of the conceits of Wallpaper is that the setting reacts to your presence: passageways will open or close depending on your movements. This is not very friendly for somebody like me, who can barely keep track of the relative position of moderately complex rooms when everything's standing still. And, for reasons that will hopefully become clear as you play, nearly all non-movement verbs other than examine have been disabled, so if you don't like mazes you ought to go home now. Or you could, like me, take advantage of the walkthrough to get through this obnoxious section: after spending a frustrating half-hour trying to solve it on my own, I eventually followed the walkthrough to the letter, barely paying attention to room descriptions.
If you do manage to make it to Wallpaper's second half, you'll be rewarded by one of the most fantastically innovative chunks of gameplay IF has produced. I won't spoil anything, but you'll be dealing with potentialities and motivations rather than physical objects, and the puzzles are simultaneously mind-bending and logical, sadistic and satisfying. If you get stuck in either section, the command "read notes" will help; here, it provides some rather illuminating hints, both to the puzzles at hand and the larger story. Helping everything fall into place is an unrivaled joy.
While I can't support the migraine-inducing maze, I can say this: Delightful Wallpaper is the most paradigm-shifting half of an IF I've yet encountered.
What new can one say about a game that's been reviewed ten times already? Not much, perhaps, but Delightful Wallpaper is such a delight that perhaps reviewing it will bring it to other folks' attentions.
The most important thing to know about Delightful Wallpaper is that it is two games in one. The first game is basically a shorter version of Inside the Facility. (Well, Delightful Wallpaper predates Inside the Facility by ten years, so perhaps it's more accurate to say that Inside the Facility is a longer version of the first half of Delightful Wallpaper.) The puzzles all revolve around movement: Visiting certain locations or traversing certain passages triggers various doors to open or close in the mansion. You must learn and keep track of these in order to figure out how to reach all of the rooms. It's a logical puzzlefest of the kind I particularly enjoy.
You're assisted greatly by the fact that the game keeps "notes" for you that you can review. If something interesting happens when you visit a room or traverse a passage, the game records it in your list of notes, perhaps along with a question mark. When you discover what that particular action did, the game updates that entry in the notes. It makes the puzzles much easier than they would be otherwise: You don't have to worry about having missed something important in the text. It also means that the game records some solutions in your notes before you've completely figured out what's happening. I have a mixed opinion on the notes: I think they make what would likely be a fiendishly difficult game into something much more reasonable, but they also tilt the game a little too far to the easy side for my taste. However, I appreciate the challenge the author faces here, and I also can't think of a better solution for hitting the difficulty level "sweet spot" than the one the author has chosen.
The second game is very different. You have to collect "intentions" (these are sort of like motivations or actions different characters can take) and place them around the mansion. You're essentially creating a narrative for the characters. You don't have complete control of the narrative, though: There's a definite end state for each of the characters, and there are plenty of restrictions on which intentions you can place where. All in all, the second half of Delightful Wallpaper plays like a story that you're writing. It's interactive, in the sense that there are choices that you make for the characters, but you're not actually one of the characters. Instead, you're more like an author, deciding what each character does. While I think different interpretations are possible here, I felt like I was (Spoiler - click to show)Agatha Christie writing a sequel to And Then There Were None.
If I could have one wish about the second half, it would be to include a puzzle where you must put the intentions in a particular logical order in order to make the narrative work. In retrospect, the set of intention placements that I came up with did result in a narrative that made logical sense, but I would have liked to have seen the intentions constructed such that this was a bit harder to do.
So, what we have here are two games in one. And the games are very different. They're like two classic IF archetypes: the logical puzzlefest to be solved and the interactive story to be written. I suppose you could also say that in Delightful Wallpaper the opposing sides of Graham Nelson's "narrative at war with a crossword" description of IF have declared a cease-fire, with each side agreeing to take half of the game.
All in all, a delight to play.
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