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Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best Setting; Winner, Best Use of Medium - 2000 XYZZY Awards
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
In short, this is a gimmick game that shouldn't be a gimmick game. It's got a couple of good gimmicks which are fiendishly clever, but the real strength is in the characters.
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What this game does best is unsettle you. The whole game has an extremely eerie atmosphere, and half of that is due to the strange plot (or lack of a plot, I’m not sure which.) The other half is due to some Adam Cadre writing, and the strange ignoring of player input. (Christian Baker)
In its own way, then, Shrapnel is quite a story, and that it's less interactive fiction than a forced march isn't a major drawback, in the end. (Duncan Stevens)
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Number of Reviews: 13
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The strong point of the game is its presentation. Using several fun gimmicks and some surprising twists and turns, Cadre manages to keep us interested in playing the (short) game even when the story doesn't make much sense.
The weak point of the game is that there isn't much of real interest to be found in it. The basic story might have been powerful if it had been expanded upon, but is hardly moving or illuminating it its current fragmented state. And the deus ex machina explanations of the meta-plot that we get at the end do not rise beyond the level of forgettable SF.
Two stars because the story is lazy and the gimmick mostly gimmicky, or three stars because the execution is very good? I'm going with three stars, partly because the game is so streamlined and short that it is worth checking out even if you probably won't be blown away by it. Bad pun very much intended, of course.
There were no instances of "guess-the-verb," nor any traditional puzzles. There are no puzzles in the traditional sense. For the most part, the player/character wanders through the game as an observer (in a very literal sense) until the climax is reached.
And that is why I could not give this game a higher rating. As enjoyable as it was, this game really flowed on rails, taking the player from one scene to the next smoothly and easily with minimal interaction.
All in all, this brief game is a pleasure to play, and was executed skillfully. It would perhaps be a good game for newcomers to IF to understand what the medium has to offer.
First of all, you are in a small area similar to Zork's white house. And you get killed. Then you restart and get killed a different way. And so forth.
One of my big complaints in this one is the lack of interactivity. There are 4 or 5 rooms you just wander around in until some plot happens. The big gimmick here is the way the game interprets things (Spoiler - click to show) Such as forcing you to RESTART when given the quit or restart options on death
I am a big fan of Cadre's other games, to the point where I am now seeking out his other works to play them. This one didn't strike me, however. There was a lot of info dump at the end, and little interactivity.
What was interesting was the choice of medium. For the style of story he was writing, he had 2 choices: IF, or Short Film (in a memento style). The use of IF was daring here, and he is definately one to experiment with his IF styles, and for that I give him credit. This one, I just didn't feel. Even photopia, with its limited choices, gave the illusion of freedom, and I-0 seemed way open, with multiple branches to the ending. With this one, most of the game was pressing the space bar to advance the text, and that wasn't what I was looking for with the IF.
Still, if you're a fan of the story- the story itself is fairly interesting.
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