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5th Place - Spring Thing 2005
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Number of Reviews: 1
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:Everyone wants a second chance., January 15, 2014
In a bizarre and unnerving limbo, the somewhat sleazy salesman Everett Rhodes is offering you that chance. "You made some mistakes, friend. Bad mistakes that have crippled your life. Today you can fix them. TODAY you have the opportunity to SET MATTERS STRAIGHT. Just shake my hand and everything will be YOURS to decide.”
The game (or Rhodes himself) puts you in several different characters' shoes, as you attempt to work out just where your life went wrong in order to put you in this position. It is highly probable that you will need to play through the game multiple times in order to reach a good ending - requiring not just a second chance, but a third, fourth or even fifth. However, each playthrough gives you a better sense of your characters and their relationships, and the satisfaction gained from doing a little better each time outweighs the minor annoyance at quickly re-solving a section you'd already completed.
There were some situations where I felt that the options available for solving the puzzles could have been expanded, or that the solution would not have been effective in real life, but full realism is impossible to achieve without sacrificing gameplay, and no solution was entirely counter-intuitive. There was also one particular glitch that I noticed towards the end-game, where a description from another part of the game appeared, but it did not affect the gameplay aside from breaking momentum a little.
A minor warning: many of the characters are unpleasant and hold contemptible views, and the author himself warns that the game contains bad language and violence. While Whyld certainly is not espousing these views himself, he gives minimal moral narrative in favour of reflecting a realistic form of character. And the characters are well drawn, as you get a good sense of their lives even as you spend little time with most of them.
Overall, this is a very well-written game with a compelling premise. Ultimately it is a game about free will conquering determinism. This is made more interesting when considering the relationship between player and player character, the latter of whom inherently lacks will at all. In a way, you the player are the enigmatic Rhodes, holding cards your character can't see, but equally it is Whyld who flashes you the smile as you struggle, nodding, and saying: "Just shake my hand and everything will be YOURS to decide.”
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