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Starry Seeksorrow

by Caleb Wilson (as Ayla Rose) profile

fantasy
2015

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Number of Reviews: 3
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Plants, plinths, and plots, May 27, 2015
by Doug Orleans (Somerville, MA, USA)
Related reviews: ShuffleComp: Disc 2
Everything about this game is charming: the premise (you are a doll who has been enchanted to protect a child of a wealthy magician couple), the setting (the garden estate of said magician couple, populated by various whimsically magical plants), the writing ("The memory rattles like an impervious bumble bee trapped inside a closed book."), and the puzzles, which involve learning about the magical plants and figuring out how to tame them and use them to your advantage. The backstory told through found memories is rather more sinister, however: a ghost story that gives an extra dimension of moral ambiguity to the characters. It also feels a bit like a murder mystery, where you have to put together the clues to identify the villain and motive.

I had trouble with two of the puzzles: one I eventually managed to figure out after some wild guesses about how to use (Spoiler - click to show)the diamondbane-- it seemed like I needed to plant it near the glass wall of the greenhouse, or else use it to scratch the glass somehow, but in fact you had to THROW it at the glass to crack it; the other I had to consult the hints for, but in retrospect it was totally fair and clever to (Spoiler - click to show)reuse the clippers to cut out the cover of the book. Unfortunately the hints file is rather spoilery; it seems formatted so as to be implemented as a hint menu where you can choose to reveal one at a time, but it's just a text file so it's hard to avoid seeing more than you want. Hopefully a post-comp release will implement the hints properly in-game.

I managed to win the game on my first playthrough without having solved one of the puzzles; I'm not sure if this was intentional. If it were, I would have expected the endings to be different whether you (Spoiler - click to show)destroyed the statue or not, where solving this optional puzzle would give you a more satisfying and final epilogue. I was slightly spoiled about this puzzle from the hints file; otherwise I'm not sure I would have thought to (Spoiler - click to show)examine the mansion, since it's physically distant rather than being an object in the room.

I like how the game incorporates the band name as well as the song lyrics. Another nice touch is how (Spoiler - click to show)the child is either Klaus or Klara, determined randomly when you start; this led to a funny moment of confusion when I read Emily Short's review and she mentioned that the child was a girl when he was clearly a boy in my playthrough.