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Snowquest

by Eric Eve profile

Fantasy
2009

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Number of Reviews: 6
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Enjoyable, but ultimately flawed, November 16, 2009
I found it hard to evaluate this game. On the one hand, it’s very well written, the plot is engaging, it’s all well implemented, there are many striking images and it draws you in. On the other – well, I leave it feeling very dissatisfied with how it all turns out. (Note: the rest of this review contains unhidden *mild* spoilers - don’t read it if you want the playing experience to be totally unspoiled - I have of course hidden the more explicit spoilers.)

This is one of those games that puts you into a fairly clear situation, lets you play it for a while, and then it turns out that you’re not really in that situation at all. Personally I find this kind of approach not only rather cliched (it’s only a small step from waking up to find it was all just a dream) but also somewhat annoying: it takes energy to invest into believing in the situation that the game presents us with, and to be told that in fact this situation isn’t real after all can make you feel a bit cheated.

In the case of Snowquest there are definitely mitigating factors. Things that happen in one reality are mirrored in another. (Spoiler - click to show)The obvious example is the wolf in the initial story, who appears as Agent Wolf in the final one – and throwing a stick at him defeats him both times. The theme of “snow” is obviously constant throughout as well. However, I found the overall story quite baffling. This was especially so given that there seemed to be not two but three realities. (Spoiler - click to show)The first is the initial situation, which ends with the finding of the book. Then you’re taken back to the cave of the first part of the game, implying that all the stuff that just happened didn’t really happen; this ends with the finding of yourself in the plane. And finally there’s the “real” reality in the airport. It seems that the *second* of these two realities is shown to you by Wolf in an attempt to prevent you from flying off with the parcel. But what on earth is the first reality? Was it part of the hallucination, and if so, why did Wolf induce it? What purpose does this setting – which seems to be far in the future – have within the story as a whole? Why was the book hidden in such an odd way, and why was the skeleton held together with gold thread? Even the final explanations didn’t really explain very much. These things led to my being far more confused than enlightened at the end of the game. On reflection, what I find odd is that the initial scenario seems to be much better thought through, and generally fleshed out and interesting, than the final “reality” is. Is this deliberate? Perhaps, but it feels wrong.

Overall, the game plays well and the writing is good. It is pretty well implemented, although there are occasional annoying lapses (“examine mountain”, when you’re standing on it, doesn’t give a very helpful response). I found one very annoying “guess the verb” puzzle: (Spoiler - click to show)you are supposed to “turn” the bone when it is in the slot, but “move”, “push”, or any other action won’t work. Given that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of logic to this scene to start with, it’s hard to see how one could be expected to guess that.

So I must admit that I found this game more frustrating than anything else, mainly because the longer it goes on, the less sense it seems to make. Perhaps this is deliberate and the game is meant to leave the player somewhat unsettled, but if so I’m afraid it didn’t do a great deal for me. The good implementation and writing, together with a story that is interesting (if increasingly disorienting), mean it gets a decent score for me, but the aforementioned problems (at least from my point of view) mean the score isn’t as high as perhaps it might have been.

Comments on this review

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Audiart, April 6, 2010 - Reply
I didn't consider the beginning of the game to be part of the pilots hallucination. Rather, the beginning and end are separate parallel universes. The 'vision' is an alternate (in this case, unhappy) path for either protagonists journey.

There are actually quantum theories about parallel universes having points of intersection such as the one in this story! Whether or not that's true, it makes a good basis for science fiction.
Metz77, June 19, 2013 - Reply
This is an interesting theory, but if it was the author's intent, then it wasn't communicated clearly enough and just ended up being baffling.
Dannii, November 18, 2009 - Reply
Thanks for noting that there are really three realities, that makes quite a bit more sense. The question is, what is up with the first?

Also, don't the dream sequences seem out-of-character for our heroine?
JonathanCR, November 20, 2009 - Reply
Yes, this is what really baffled me. (spoilers ahead!) I can understand why the Wolf of reality 3 would induce the illusion of reality 2 into our heroine (to persuade her not to fly). But why does he induce reality 1 first? *Does* he induce it, or is that some kind of independent hallucination? Why is it the longest and most detailed one? I find this very puzzling.

You're right about the dreams too. I find it hard to see where they fit in. They occur during reality 1, the status of which is, as I said, very vague to start with. Should we think of them as dreams within dreams? (That said, they are very well implemented and striking.)
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