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About the StoryRosalita Morales is dead, and you have to figure out who did it. The four people closest to her had the motive and the means: her partner, her secretary, her ex-husband, and her sister. Re-live their memories of Rosalita's last days to discover what really happened. But be careful: Everyone has something to hide, and everyone will Color the Truth.
Color the Truth is conversation-based murder mystery game that takes roughly 2 hours to finish. It is designed to be accessible to players who have never tried parser games, and comes with adaptive hints accessible by typing HINT.
The source code is available for use under Creative Commons Attribution (BY) license.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Games of Mystery and Discovery from IF Comp 2016
Color the Truth invites the player to investigate a murder by (as typical for IF) examining various environments and also (less typically) by interviewing various characters. When a character gives you a statement, you play through a sequence as that character, getting to see the environment and suspects from their perspective... By the time the game is over, youíll have played through the events of the murder multiple times from the perspectives of each of the major characters. Itís a pretty effective way of letting the player pull together evidence and conflicting information.
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IFComp 2016: Five Authors and Six Games
While it features puzzles, it relies on a specific puzzle mechanic. Detective stories have been used a lot in adventure gaming and IF, but Color the Truth gets a lot of mileage by keeping the focus tight: Itís a game about interrogation. You take statements from witnesses, ask them questions, and try to catch them in contradictions that gradually unveil what really happened.
The appeal here is definitely in the satisfying conversation mechanics, but itís elevated by some details in the execution.
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Thus, the Topic Inventory and the the Interactive Flashback dovetail, one providing the means of pointing out contradictions, the other providing the results. Itís quite neat.
Maybe a little too neat. The story itself feels a little bloodless to me, with a player character whoís as uninvolved in events as the player, and nothing happening once the investigation starts other than the investigation. But perhaps Iím only saying this because is contrasts with another piece Iíve written up recently.
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Parser Fiction is Not Dead Yet!
A good mystery is one of the most difficult forms of genre fiction to write, because they involve so many plot twists. The author must weave together lies and truth and peel them back in a sequence which allows the reader to solve the mystery at precisely the same moment as the protagonist. "Color the Truth" achieves exactly that. This is as good as any IF mystery I've ever played.
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On the whole, the game is well-crafted and solidly designed. I like the innovations in the gameplay and, as I've said before, I like that it's a mystery game. It feels compact and self-sufficient, like a sort of breakfast sandwich. Everything in a single, handy package. There's meat and there's egg and there's cheese. Maybe it's lacking a bit of sauce, but it leaves you wanting more even though you're technically full now and shouldn't have another one. And to finish, a small chai latte: just a little special and trendy, but it's tasty and it does the job as well as any workhorse coffee you could name.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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"Color the Truth" is a detective adventure, in which you collect the statements of suspects in order to find hints, or rather topics, as they are called here. Topics represent a specific aspect of a suspect's statement, and sometimes this aspect is in contradiction to a topic from another person's statement. Then you can link the two contradicting topics in order to get a new one, that in turn will prompt a new statement, until you finally discover the truth.
So far so good, but the knack in this mechanic is that each statement is a mini adventure, played from the viewpoint of the interrogated suspect. You get to play through each of these minis several times, each time revised in the light of the new topic you raised.
This all works very well, and analysing and combining the hints and playing the resulting new statement is a lot of fun, as it conveys a sense of steady progress in revealing the mystery, and also because the writing is on point.
I have to say I was a tiny bit disappointed of not being able to play out the murder itself in a statement (I like creepy adventures), but probably that would not have fit the tone. My only other caveat is that the case at hand is rather simple and therefore has only few surprises. Maybe Mr Rush or someone else uses the mechanic for a more involved case in the future. I would certainly play that!
In the end, it seemed like this game had cool mechanics but wasn't necessarily maximally suited for a parser game. (Spoiler - click to show)In the present, really all you did was decide who to talk to, which topic to bring up, or what to link. The flashbacks were mostly fake interactivity and while it was cool to see the same places from different perspectives, it got old to repeat the unchanged parts of a flashback. I would've enjoyed a few more layers with less-obvious linkages. Also, I was disappointed that the color-based perspective didn't really end up being relevant to anything.
That said, I enjoyed this game and its link mechanic a lot, and look forward to future games by this author.
The writing was skilled and the mechanics were enjoyable, but I didn't ultimately feel as connected to this piece. While the overall polish is high, the mechanics are excellent, and the writing is evocative and tight, but for whatever reason, I failed to have a sense of deeper connection with the piece.
I finished the piece two days ago and have been mulling over my disconnect since. The characters feel real and believable, but the flow of the story and the pacing seems to break down; I had a sense what had happened fairly early in the story, but didn't feel a sense of satisfaction when I had solved the puzzle. I think it might benefit from some more steps, or some other modifications to the pacing; maybe keeping a sense of mystery even at the climax? I'm not sure what the answer is, precisely, but I'd still recommend this piece "as-is" to anyone who enjoys detective work and investigations in interactive fiction.
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Recommended ListsColor the Truth appears in the following Recommended Lists:
Detective and mystery games by MathBrush
These are games where you play a detective or someone else investigating a mystery. Most of them are realistic games which I am splitting off of my realistic list. Some are more magical or science fi-ish.
Doug's Top Ten of IF Comp 2016 by Doug Orleans
I played all but one of the 58 entries in IF Comp 2016 (I couldn't play Labyrinth of Loci because I don't have access to Windows or Mac OS). These were the top ten games on my ballot. Note that I rate games on slightly different criteria...
PollsThe following polls include votes for Color the Truth:
Cool Murder Mystery/Detective Games by Christopher Caesar
Hey everybody. I am looking for a murder mystery text game. I finished An Act of Murder a while ago and want to play more games like that, where to get to solve the murder yourself. If you could tell me some of your recommendations that...
Games with Toys by IFforL2
I want to distinguish four IF game elements: Puzzles require the player to find a solution to a problem in the narrative. If she can't find a solution, she's stuck. Branching allows the player to steer the plot of the narrative....
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