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About the StoryA puzzle game about secrets in the Age of Lead. You've spent seventeen years preparing for an infiltration. Stealing the Confessor's secrets is only the beginning: it will all be for nothing if you leave a trace.
Nominee, Best Setting; Winner, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best Individual Puzzle - 2015 XYZZY Awards
6th Place overall; 2nd Place, Miss Congeniality Award - 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2015)
Sub Rosa's post-comp release is now available to play. A number of minor bugs and typos have been fixed, some hints improved, and some new entries have been added to some of the exhaustive volumes in the library.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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The writing of this game is absolutely wonderful and so much fun to read. It had me laughing out loud and gasping in surprise.
And the puzzles! They were really fun! I can't say much more without giving things away. But A+ puzzle design - tough enough to be interesting, but I was never hopelessly stuck.
The length of the game is great, too. Short - but not too short! Highly recommend.
You play as someone who has a bone to pick with him. You have been preparing for years to break into the Confessor's mansion and dig up some dirt. You begin the game wearing a pellucid llama-suit that makes you invisible, and you will enter the mansion through a spatial intersection in a giant leather cliff that cuts into another physical plane.
I want to say that this game is surreal, but I don't think that's accurate. It's set in a fantasy world with very unusual qualities, but within this world everything is consistent and makes sense. There's no dream logic. There's just strange logic. The finesse required to achieve this subtle distinction in the writing is spectacular.
I don't want to say too much about the world, because the game's primary pleasure comes from exploring that world. I do think you will have to have a certain taste for peculiarity to enjoy the game though. It made me think about Edward Gorey. Consider this organization system in the Confessor's library:
You could choose a specific book or one of the seven eternal categories: damp, forgotten, implausible, pejorative, exhaustive, unsettling and beseeching.
If you look at the "forgotten" books, some titles you'll find are Urn Dwellers, Emponderations Most Wearysome, and History of The Boundless Plains. In the "damp" category there is a book about milking called Milking.
This library is probably the game's greatest achievement. It has 101 books, and you can read them all, and they are all different and wonderful and enrich the world. At the same time, the library also illustrates the game's biggest weakness, which is that it demands an exhaustive attention to detail from the player to solve its puzzles.
Sub Rosa rewards patience and critical thought, and it does not respond well to being rushed through. Some players will be frustrated by its difficulty, and the puzzles could certainly be clued more overtly, but this is exactly what will draw other players to the game who want a challenge. Even though I personally needed hints, that didn't detract at all from my satisfaction with the game's other elements.
A dark fantasy about stealth and finding secrets. Best to take your time., February 3, 2016
The house and the backstory are weird and interesting, like a 1001 Arabian Nights written by Steven Moffat and David Eddings.
As your find out very early on, your goal is to find 7 secrets to destroy someone. Your secondary goal is not to get caught or noticed.
The game is enjoyable, and the puzzles are great, but it suffers from a bit of hunt-for-clues, like Where's Waldo. There is a library with 101 books, some of which are obviously important, and others which are necessary for winning but not clearly marked out.
As another example of the hunt-for-clues issue, there is one puzzle you solve by examining a background item not usually implemented, interacting with it in an unusual way, using that to interact with another important thing in an unusual way, and then examining two things in succession.
Thus, this game is best-suited for the meticulous. Fortunately, its rich backstory makes such meticulousness very rewarding.
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Recommended ListsSub Rosa appears in the following Recommended Lists:
Best fantasy games by MathBrush
These are my favorite games that include some sort of magical or fantastical element. Games with mostly horror or sci-fi elements are on other lists, as are surreal games, fairy tale/nursery games, and religious/mythological games. I've...
PollsThe following polls include votes for Sub Rosa:
For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible writing of 2015 by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
This is for suggesting games released in 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Writing in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here...
Games with Books/Bookshelves/Libraries by Andrew Schultz
I'm interested in games with lots of books you can read through. Maybe it's just a lot of cool titles and authors. Maybe they're randomly or procedurally generated. Maybe they reference pop culture, or maybe they're the author's own...
For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible implementations of 2015 by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
This is for games released in 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Implementation in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here will...
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