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About the StoryYou have always been different.
One in a trillion have your gift, your curse: to move between worlds,
never settling, always alone. To Wayfare. Yet there are others like
you, and something stronger than coincidence binds you together, bumps
your lives against each other like charged particles.
Now you feel the Call again, and know another of your kind is in need.
But when you arrive there are no answers. Just an old man with fraying
sanity and secrets buried deep. A tropical paradise more alive than it
seems. And a conflict left unresolved that could change the course of
two civilizations forever.
There are no easy choices, wayfarer. Your decisions will shape the
fate of many things. Three worlds. Two lives. And what your own story
Winner, Best Game; Winner, Best Story; Winner, Best Setting; Nominee, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual NPC; Winner, Best Use of Medium - 2009 XYZZY Awards
3rd Place - Spring Thing 2008
Those looking for a more visual novel will most likely find Blue Lacuna a little too text-heavy, but anyone willing to look past the simplistic interface will easily be able to lose themselves in the twisting, memorable story. The good news is that you'll know instantly whether this is going to be a journey made for you.
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Lacuna is not a stoic environment. Tsunamis and storms strike the island. The pale moon of the night turns into the blistering sun of day. All of these things can affect the locations on the island, changing what you can do or see there. They aren’t completely random, either. What actions you take influence what is introduced into the story and when. Around the time you start to feel like there’s nowhere else to explore, a character will arrive with something to tell you, or you’ll stumble across a clue for the puzzle you’ve been working on, or a woodland creature will inadvertently reveal a new path. All of this is done as subtlety as possible, so that it never feels like a solution was thrust upon you, but that you were simply in the right place at the right time.
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Risks and Experiments
Blue Lacuna doesn't make it to the horizon as an artistic work, and I don't even think it's entirely successful just as a game (it's a little short on beta-testing, and the puzzles are a mixed bag), but it's important in a way most recent games aren't: if you're interested in IF as a genre, you should play Blue Lacuna, and there's nothing I'd rather say about a game than that.
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Jay is Games
Emergent or branching narratives have been seen as a red herring in game development for a while. [...] This is really where Reed excels. After the prologue, you find yourself on a nearly-abandoned island. Your only companion is a mad hermit, a man who talks in broken sentences and shouts at the ocean. Throughout the game, your interactions with him (or even actions in his presence) shape his opinion of you, his relationship with you, and how the eventual ending plays out. Depending on your actions and conversation with this man, the game could play in vastly different ways.
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Universally in Blue Lacuna, the portrait of humanity and interpersonal relationships is a bleak and twisted one. People are selfish and dishonest, closed to communication, inconsistent and typically blind to their own pathology; in short, pure sociological wreckage, and it isn't clear whether this was done on purpose.
When you play Blue Lacuna, which in general I think one should, the key is to simply enjoy the scenery.
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IndieCade 2010 Wrap Up
There's no better way to describe this game than by calling it a beautifully written interactive novel. If the creators of Zork or Witness had a copy of Blue Lacuna travel back in time and appear on their computers, they would have wept openly.
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|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 8
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
Interactive fiction games are wonderful for blind computer users, as they allow us to experience settings and scenes we might not otherwise, perhaps more so than for the sighted people in this world. That was a large attraction of Lacuna for me, the richness and vibrancy of its island setting are unparalleled in the annals of interactive fiction. Other games may have similar esthetics or similar talent for description, but none I know of simulate day and night and tide with such loving detail. The world and how the player perceives it changes radically with each passing hour, and it was a joy just to wander around the island, soaking in the ambiance of a place too beautiful to be real as it changed over the course of my playthrough. I was beyond pleased to look up at the night sky and notice that the moon was implemented, and that it had phases which changed from day to day, as irrelevant as that might be to the actual plot.
What, I'm two paragraphs in and just starting to talk about plot? Yes, the game has a plot, and it is a big, sprawling thing just like the setting I raved about so much. Sprawl here is used in a loving sense--the length is not too long in my opinion, though I may quibble, just a bit, about the pacing here and there. Being IF, naturally there's potential for choice, and while the broad strokes of the plot remain the same throughout every game, there is much potential for interpretation and outright variation. A lot of that last comes from interaction with the single main NPC, who deserves a place all his own.
The single main NPC--you'll know him when you see him--is very well done. He has his own backstory which is central to the overarching narrative, and does his own thing in a manor to make you forget for a moment that he's a mass of programmed instructions. Conversation is topic-based, and sensitive to the mood of the characters--there's some Galatea-esque tracking going on in there, certainly. All told, he's a wonderful companion throughout, or was in my playthrough.
Bugs? I feel ashamed to mention them, but there were a couple minor ones. Most significantly, the NPC will occasionally go invisible--you can still talk to him, but finding him is difficult when he doesn't appear in room descriptions. I've reported this one to the author, and hopefully a fix is forthcoming. Tiny typos were perhaps a bit more noticeable thanks to my screen reader, but none jarring, and honestly they pale in comparison to the constant mispronunciation of a character's name, but that's my reader's fault and probably fixable on my end, anyway.
So, once again, play this game. Explore its setting, indulge in the plot at your own pace and according to your own whims, be swept away by the many good qualities here and enjoy a modern masterpiece of IF. I can say no more.
You, as the PC, have the ability to Wayfare - to travel between worlds and places by creating art. When called by another of your kind, you rush to the rescue - only to find yourself on a near-deserted island with a crazy old man and some very creepy trees. Who called you here? And what do they want with you?
This game goes far beyond multiple paths: you genuinely do shape the story. The characterisation of the PC is entirely up to you and you're able to act in almost any way you feel fits. In turn, your actions shape the environment, the outcomes of the story, and the attitudes of the one main NPC in ways that frankly boggle the mind. Progue is an incredible NPC; your behaviour towards him influences his towards you, as well as what encounters you will have. He can be your mortal enemy, love interest, or anything in between. No two playthroughs will be the same. Sadly, the game is so huge and time-consuming that it's difficult to live up to the near-unlimited replay potential.
The setting - the island of Lacuna - is a character in itself. Complete with succinct but vivid descriptions, day-night and weather cycles, random environmental events and an expansive but intuitive map, it's the most detailed setting I've ever seen in a work of IF. Even on third and fourth playthroughs, I'm still discovering new treasures hidden away. Exploring Lacuna even without a plot to drive you would be well worth the effort. Speaking of the plot, it's one of the few things that don't replay so well. The main events of the plot (particularly the (Spoiler - click to show)dream sequences) are less adaptable than the rest of the game, so even the most haunting parts grow dry and familiar after you've read them once or twice.
Aside from the story itself, Blue Lacuna breaks ground in other ways. You may select between story and puzzle modes; this adds to the re-playability, and means the game will appeal to both fans of narrative (like me) and those who like a challenge. I loved this touch and wish more games would offer it. While not exactly a new idea, the (optional) compass-free movement commands heightened the realism and made it feel like you really were exploring the environment instead of a game map. (Spoiler - click to show)The backstage commands were a brilliant touch; they made it way easier to find new endings and to otherwise mess around with the game environment, which is always fun.
Unfortunately, with great interactivity comes great complexity, and with great complexity comes great bugginess. (Is that a word?) On my first playthrough, an essential plot event (the (Spoiler - click to show)tsunami, if you're wondering) never triggered and the game was rendered unwinnable. Though nothing that bad ever happened again, the interpreter kept crashing during one of the conversations and there were way too many bugs and minor inconsistencies to count. I understand that the huge scope of the game makes it impossible to debug completely, but I had so many issues dodging bugs it's enough to lower the game one star in my estimation.
Blue Lacuna is a groundbreaking game that is likely to take an important place in the history of IF. If you enjoy immersive games that reward persistence and patience, then I would definitely recommend giving it a play.
I will say that the setting was remarkably rendered. It was neat to play a game where weather and time of day actually matter, and though the interface took some getting used to, I found it convenient and well-implemented for the most part. The vividly imagined environments were described clearly, but not overdone. Specific but not verbose or dull to read.
However, as great as the setting was, the characters and themes were wishy-washy, inconsistent, and frustrating. It was like the author couldn't decide who anyone was. While I understand about the importance of imperfection in crafting compelling characters, this was more like behaving based on whatever feels right at the time. And that's just not enjoyable. (Spoiler - click to show)For example, Rume chastises the player character for painting, for following her own nature, but it's not her fault. If the player tries to have her wake him to explain properly, there's a message that Rume's asleep and you'll say goodbye later. Okay then. So you paint and then Rume just assumes you weren't going to say goodbye at all. And let's say his impassioned plea for you to give up who you are for him is granted. Well, twenty years later, after your daughter abandons you to pursue her own life in anger and impatience, the player character is in turn abandoned by Rume, who says he must follow his own nature. And he doesn't say goodbye. No. He's gone and leaves a letter. Hypocrite much? And the same goes for Progue. Sometimes, he's submissive and deferential and sometimes surly. At the end of the game, it's even more jarring because the game tells you his attitude is submissive but he's willing to attack the player on his own initiative. He also scolds the player for not helping him when earlier, he said he hadn't Called her, and then uses the fact she didn't help him when he needed her as some twisted justification for why he deserves to get his way. It's flat-out emotional blackmail. It's true that people don't always act predictably, but
actions and words really should match up better. If you say a character feels a certain way toward you, that should be borne out consistently unless something dramatic changes the mood. And I don't just mean disagreement. That's not enough. It was like the characters had to do things to make the plot go a certain way, so weird contrivances without proper explanation or foreshadowing had to be used. If the player cannot tell the character they're controlling to do something, it is unfair and annoying to then blame the player for not doing it.
(Spoiler - click to show)And then there's the weird dichotomy between art and love, which I don't think are mutually exclusive. Love or hate, art or science, friend or foe. These make sense. But it's very possible to be capable of both love and art, and if anything, I think they enhance each other.
The endings, too, didn't work for me. I think they might have worked better if I could actually respect and like anyone, but as it was, everyone was selfish and manipulative, to a greater or lesser degree. They either ran away from their problems, blamed the player character for not doing as they wanted, or abandoned the player character when they no longer needed her.
"Lacuna" is worth playing at least once, for the game world and innovative interface. But don't go in expecting to connect with anyone or to have your horizons expanded. And definitely don't go in thinking you can change the story. You can move through it at your own pace and with your own play style, but you really can't influence how events play out unless you play as a manipulative, dysfunctional person.
See All 8 Member Reviews
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Recommended ListsBlue Lacuna appears in the following Recommended Lists:
Active Non-player Characters by Emily Short
Games which make use of non-player characters that have a great deal of independence, often moving around and acting on their own, or taking the lead in conversation. Some of these are more successful than others, but all are likely to...
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Games that I've found enjoyable, either because of their immersive environments, satisfying puzzles, or a combination of both. Games that I recommend to others who want to step into the world of interactive fiction.
PollsThe following polls include votes for Blue Lacuna:
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Works in which some aspect of the game's default behavior can be customized (e.g. by changing the person of the narration), especially if the game allows players to play with alternatives to standard IF conventions.
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