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About the Story
Team up with a dashing detective and an iconoclastic flapper to solve absurd and unfathomable crimes in this interactive story - where you control the action just by typing or clicking highlighted words in the text.
Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2009 XYZZY Awards
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Click any keyword
Add to that a light romance and a theme about promoting gender equality, and you have a distinctively Pacian-esque piece. It's fun, adventurous, and not too hard; it feels like enjoyable fluff while you're playing, but after you're done you may find it leaves more of an impression than you expected.
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Number of Reviews: 5
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As with Gun Mute, the basic approach here is to take a lot of fun, highly familiar tropes, pack them in densely and then turn the saturation up a couple of notches. So, the crime-fighting protagonists are ravishingly attractive and barely avoid falling into each others' arms at any given moment; the villain is given to over-the-top monologuing; and so on. The writing is good, even if the one-word parser limits your ability to poke at the scenery.
Because the basic style being drawn on is an episodic one - a Sherlock Holmes short story, an Avengers episode - the game feels very short. Character development doesn't really get very far beyond introduction, for instance.
Not as theoretically exciting as Gun Mute -- the setting's more conventionally handled and the interaction gimmick is less striking -- but a solid and enjoyable piece of work.
I really liked this game, and for a lot of reasons : the setting (early 20th century with some interesting differences) is original, and its description and references were very efficient in drawing me into this world ((Spoiler - click to show)hysteria diagnosis or expeditions to the north pole are such references I found very much immersive). The duo of detectives works really well : the characters are charismatic, quite antagonistic and their exchanges are often humorous (with a totally British sense of humor, which I like very much!). There's even (Spoiler - click to show)a bit of romance between those two, very subtlely and nicely displayed by the author. The story in itself is not extraordinary, but I found it okay nevertheless, and to my mind it quite fitted the tone of the game. I admit I would have preferred a longer story, because I ended up wanting to spend more time with those characters! (but maybe a sequel is secretly planned ;)
But I cannot talk about this game without mentioning the unusual parsing system: it consists in one-word commands, such as "door" or "corpse". I understand that it's been a parsing system that's quite new and interests people since Blue Lacuna; the attempt to make a whole game not only using this system, but revolving around it, is quite bold! However, I must admit that I need more than what this game shows to be totally convinced by this system. It may be easier for some readers to click on words to interact with them, but it seems to me that it's reducing interactivity and a sense of freedom. Actually, in this game, you can also interact with words that aren't underlined, a fact I liked when I discovered it because I felt that freedom wasn't so much reduced after all. But on the other side, you can make the character perform actions you'd never thought of, and thus you can win the game relying on a "lawnmowering strategy" and without understanding the story: I find this fact not very satisfactory (at least in a normal game you have to figure out the verb, and so you have to deduce first what you have to do). (Actually, it's a little bit the same reproach as the one with the ">TALK TO X" conversation system, because in a way both systems are similar) For instance in this game, (Spoiler - click to show)you have to deduce from the clues in the deceased's room the way he was killed: I had no idea, and just typed "explain" several times because the word was underlined, and the character ended up saying "it was a giant octopus on wheels", altough I was very far from deducing such a thing! (but let's face it, it's hard to create a puzzle in which you have to make the player guess that it was a giant octopus on wheels). To avoid such a "lawnmowering effect", maybe that puzzles that require a series of actions in a precise (and logical) order can be a part of the solution, because it's more difficult than finding the only action that would make the story go further, and I think it encourages the player to figure out what he has to do and how first. (just an idea)
To sum up about this system, I'm not convinced that it's bringing something more or something different to the game; actually it makes it easier, substracting the need to understand what you're doing and why to solve a puzzle or to advance in the story. But I'm not formally opposed to it, and I hope other games in the future will go further enough in the use of this system to show me new and interesting things that the system can bring: but to me "Walker & Silhouette" fails to bring those elements (it's easily forgivable though, because the system is quite new and unexplored).
In conclusion, while I'm not very fond of the parsing system, I found the game very enjoyable. And I'm starting to think more and more that, judging by the quality of every of his games, C.E.J. Pacian will soon become a major author.
If C.E.J. Pacian keeps churning out little games of this quality and consistency, I'll have to go back to his other games and rate them all up one notch. As usual, Walker & Silhouette sports the author's trademark mix of pulp space-opera fiction, relentless pace and deliciously flawed characters.
In this game, Walker is an inhumanly smart crippled police detective specialized in solving freaky mysteries by sheer force of logic. His counterpart Silhouette is a passionate anarco-feminist bad girl with a big hearth. Together, they solve a case involving as much steampunk staples, English understatement and freaky accidents as Pacian can cram in a one-hour game. Both characters border on gender bending, and their nuanced mutual attraction works very well to keep this short game together. I'm regularly bored by romance in games, but Pacian's unusual approach to the topic actually works for me. You can feel that the author really likes and respects his characters.
Like Gun Mute, this game experiments with restricted input: in this case, you move the game forward by typing keywords rather than relying on the usual (semi)-free form IF commands. Although limiting, this device works well for such a short game, smoothing out the experience and preventing you from getting stuck. Pacian even manages to build a couple of puzzles around this limited parser, which gives you the feeling you're actually playing a game, although very linear, rather than reading a short story. The result is a small polished game that doesn't last long enough for you to suspend disbelief and actually question its calculatedly naive absurdity.
Like other games from Pacian, this one feels like the author was smiling constantly as he wrote it. I also carried that smile throughout the experience.
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