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19th Place - 12th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2006)
A mystic detective story. The plot as such is solid enough, but the game uses too many barely interactive sequences, and tends to degrade into CYOA too often. Would work much better as a conventional story it seems.
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A good game and a worthy addition to the genre., August 16, 2016
by FraterI’ve always had a soft spot for noir – hard bitten detectives and troublesome, though beautiful, dames. That said, its a genre with a well-earned reputation for pulp and cliches, and more than one author has stumbled into the genre and managed to offend anyone who’s even pretended to like noir in the past. Thankfully, this is not one of those.
The story is the focus of this particular game, as it tries to be a puzzleless IF. I have to say I applaud his efforts in this direction – as one of the many puzzle-challenged IF aficionados I quite appreciate not having to worry about forgetting to pick up an object at the start of the game that I’ll need for the endgame. I played that way anyway, out of habit, but its nice to know that it wasn’t necessary.
Its also good to see we’re finally making advances with multi-threaded stories. Often a “multiple-endings” story, is just that. A story where the ending is a result of something you do during the game (such as score.) For many games this is merely cosmetic, another way to tell you your score. In Requiem, several decisions change not only the story’s end, but your place in it. This might be as simple as your job – the events that took place still took place, but who you were in them changed – but it was well executed. A true “multiple ending” story, though I’m not sure if I would count a lot of the lesser ending. “And everything stopped.” whilst clever, given the plot, isn’t a satisfying ending.
The main problem I found with the plot lies in the first scene. The story opened with the main character in trouble. This is a common literary device and can be quite effective. However, depending on how you act in the game, you might never get to that point. This is important as its a scene that’s happened, you showed it to us already, and by having a character die or fail to reach that point it’s a breach of causality. You’re telling a story from the point you started (it even refers to that point by referring to time as “Seven days earlier”), so the character should, from a good plot sense, always reach that point.
I also found the characterisation a little flat, particularly the female lead. We’re told quite often that the main character thinks she’s insane, and even shown her diary which would seem to confirm the fact, but she never actually feels insane. The antagonist does, but even so he never feels as frightening as he should.
Overall its a good game, well worth a go. Not a lot of games get me to play through multiple times but I did with this, to try and get the optimal ending. The plot was nicely convoluted and, as I said before, I like how it splits into separate threads.
Review originally published on Silicon Dreams during the 2006 Interactive Fiction Competition
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