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About the StoryA dating sim about how humanity connects through art, even out in the vastness of space.
Winner, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2014 XYZZY Awards
Rock, Paper, Shotgun
S.EXE: Creatures Such As We
When Max Payne, the dark bullet-time Sam Spade-‘em-up game came out in 2001, I thought it possessed a most ingenious game meta-narrative moment. ... I am now twenty-nine and really difficult to please, but I can say confidently that Creatures Such As We is an elegant, intricate meta-narrative about player emotional investment and romancing non-player characters. Max Payne would do a Keanuface at it.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
This is all packed into a well paced story on the PCs moon adventure with the designers of their favorite game, including that game as game within the game.
So why is "Creatures" not five stars for me? I think it lacks a bit on the game side of things. Most choices I really had to think about concerned my opinion on the game theory questions mentioned above. The choices regarding the actual plot seemed a bit bland in comparison, even though the story itself is quite compelling.
That caveat aside, in my opinion anyone even remotely interested in game design (and romance!) should play "Creatures Such As We".
This game, then, drew me in completely. This is a choice-based game about someone who is trying to understand escapism, its role in life, its benefits and drawbacks, the meaning of art, etc.
It was fun to play the character as myself, giving the answers and reactions I would. I was happy with my ending.
It was funny to play this game after Ultra Business Tycoon III,and reading online debates over whether that game is winnable, and what it would mean if it is not winnable. I don't necessarily recommend playing that game first (Porpentine has better games, like Howling Dogs), but it was interesting.
Lynnea Glasser tends to make very good games. I didn't like Tenth Plague on philosophical grounds, but Coloratura was fantastic.
I've played a lot of IF in my life. I've really explored the world of Modern IF in the last 7 or 8 years, playing lots of old comp games mostly. I've observed the community as an
outsider and generally been very impressed. Very organized and welcoming web presence. Clearly a committed, mature and sensible group. As well as creative and flexible.
On that note-- my nostalgic side is a bit offended by the multiple choice nature of this game. Some stubborn part of me can't let go of the frustrated hours I spent guessing
verbs or games I had to give up on for months or years at a time because I was stumped by some ridiculous puzzle. (It took me until high school to finally beat this old game
"skulduggery" that I started at probably age 8 or so. The advent of the internet finally let me find the solution online.)
Anyway, I'm going all tangential; my point is that I'm in the end quite pleased that for the last 20 years we've had a crowdsourcing of IF. Because it's all volunteer and money is
basically out of the equation, people have been free to experiment and develop the art form. I would guess that the obscurity of it and the technical nature explain why the
genre attracts such a disproportionately large amount of talent despite the meagre size of the audience/artist community.
Again, I'm avoiding talking about this game...
I really want to do it justice, perhaps that's why. Like the protagonist of the game, and all of us creatures such as we are, I am capable of myriad forms of self-distraction and self-deception.
My initial evaluation was that the game is far from perfect. I was confused and felt that surely it wasn't completely my fault. What is driving my choices here? Does Glasser want me to role play? Is she trying to lead meto adopt a certain role for the character, or is the game open-ended and truly a choose your own adventure story?
Fortunately, Glasser is a firm leader, just like the protagonist, and this became more and more evident. Probably about halfway into it, I let go of my own doubts and just went along for the ride. It became utterly clear to me who the protaganist is supposed to be, and how she would respond to various situations. I don't know how Glasser did it, but she convinced me hook line and sinker. I would be very disappointed if the game is indeed completely flat, and that my choices don't affect the outcome at all.
I haven't looked at other reviews or tried to replay the game. I see that the game came in second place. I've played the first place game-- In my view it is not even in the same league as this one. Hunger Daemon I would call a very well-crafted, delightful diversion. This game is breathtaking literature.
Great art, it's trite but true to say, is often underappreciated. My guess would be that a lot of people simply never understood where Glasser was going with this thing. Trying to be objective and catch my breath for a minute, I'm sure this game really is far from perfect. I'm sure Glasser could've created more consistent clues and cues to lead the gamer down the right path. I think it would serve her to be less heavy-handed and didactic at times. I don't think the web interface allows for easy replay of moves. Probably this is intentional on Glasser's part. However, for me, it would've helped me get into the story if I could've more easily tested my hypothesis that my choices really did dramatically change the story. I assume Glasser is trying to draw an analogy between the tourists in her story, and we the people playing her game. Like the protagonist in the story, Glasser is tightly and self-consciously controlling our experience.
Her brilliance is in earning our trust, just as the satisfaction of the protagonist comes through earning the trust of the tourists she supervises. And I am telling you, Lynnea, that you could've earned my trust more completely and quickly by giving me more trust.
On the other hand, I am guessing you gave too much trust to many of the people who played this game. My guess would be that this would account for the lower average reviews-- probably a lot of people just never figured it out.
A limitation of the art form. And in the end, that's just our loneliness again, isn't it? Whether face to face on the moon, communicating via text on a screen in a chatroom, or through the perhaps even less immediate medium of a novel or text adventure, none of us will ever inhabit the skin of another. Unless of course some sort of horrific human centipede reality manifests :-)
Thanks for the awesome game!!! And sorry about the rambling and embarassingly high level of incoherence in this review. I just wanted to get it out well I was still raw-- and like the protagonist I am busy and don't know when I'd have a chance to write this other than late at night after finishing the game.
So yeah, thanks again!
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