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Shade

by Andrew Plotkin profile

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Number of Reviews: 30
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The logic of Death, September 28, 2016
by Form 27b-6 (Southern California)
The true merit of Shade is that it poses the question of free will and fate through interactive fiction. The game (experience?) gives a semblance of freedom to the player. However, as the character explores his room and his grasp on reality weakens, and as he ultimately fails to escape his ordeal (or is the tragedy already behind us?), the player can't quite derail the scripted structure of the game. And thus Andrew Plotkin bonds the player and the character through constraint rather than freedom, which in itself is a bold and original proposition.

The result can be somewhat frustrating, but also conveys the stressful and helpless nature of the situation. However, Andrew Plotkin was clever enough to alleviate the tedious trial and error pattern common to these types of games, by offering some tools to the player. I particularly liked his use of the (Spoiler - click to show)To-do List, to guide the reader through the sequence of events.

Overall, I think Shade is a truly accomplished work, both from literary and technical standpoints. It's definitely morbid, but also very atmospheric and poignant, and the author doesn't lose focus on his main themes throughout the entire game. Players hoping for rewarding puzzles should look elsewhere though, as Shade doesn't offer any meaningful challenge. I was able to complete my first play through without hints within an hour or so. It makes Shade a really good introduction to IF, especially for people interested in the less "gamey" fringe of the medium. This was my first contact with the work of Andrew Plotkin, and it made me crave for more.

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Who reads reviews of Andrew Plotkin games?, July 17, 2016
Seriously, who does that? Of course the game is going to be freaking amazing, it is Andrew Plotkin. Just download it and play it already.

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Eerie and Powerful, May 1, 2016
by Rollersnake (Rogers, AR)
"It's like an interactive episode of The Twilight Zone" is a line that probably doesn't do Shade justice, but it's something I always say when I'm recommending it to anyone—it's about TV episode-length, really grippingly weird as you're playing it, and something you'll still be thinking about years later. Shade is always the first game I bring up whenever I'm introducing someone to IF, and it's one of my favorite pieces of weird fiction—in any medium.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
very cool, April 7, 2016
nothing like simulated mental deterioration...once everything clicked into place (Spoiler - click to show) the radio! it kinda blew my mind. moral of the story: (Spoiler - click to show) don't do drugs in the desert.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
One of the few games to truly frighten me (because I thought it wouldn't), February 3, 2016
Shade is a surreal game. It is an almost one-room game, where you are trying to leave your apartment, but encounter more and more difficulties.

Shade is one of the most well-written short horror games available on IFDB, and has been sold as an iOS game.

There were two points in the game that I wasn't expecting and deeply unsettled me. I won't list them here. Unfortunately, this whole review is a bit pointless, as nothing is scary if you are told it is scary. The scariest story I ever read was NES Godzilla, and it was only scary because it was such a ridiculously stupid story that when it actually got scary, it surprised me. On the other hand, I was told The Lurking Horror was one of the scariest games of all time, so when I actually played it, I was pretty disappointed.

So your best bet is to forget this and the other few reviews, wait a few months, think, "Oh, what game is this?" and then play it.

Most of the game, including the ending, was not that scary. Just a few moments stuck out for me, but they were big moments.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Uniquely Casual, August 26, 2015
by RusticSage (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)
Related reviews: Surreal, fantasy, psychological
To qualify my review, I'd like to first say that this is the first IA/text adventure game I've played in a number of years, so my experience is not necessarily indicative of regular readers. That being said, I think it may provide its own insights into the title.

This game was very surreal, and without going into too much detail, the conclusions you draw from the game, once finished, are ultimately quite abstract in character. What I particularly enjoyed about this game, despite not necessarily being all that blood-pumping of a title, is the deeply tactile and atmospheric quality of the story. Along with it's atmospheric quality, the nature of the environment you are put in is quite small, albeit requiring lots of searching to make sense of.

For these reasons and more, I think it is an ideal title for a new beginner to interactive fiction, but also well-suited as a palette cleanser or reprieve from more complex adventures. Though I would have wished for a more concrete narrative, and ambiguity of the story, when coupled with its aesthetic, is by no means a thematic platitude.

I will definitely recommend this to friends who might enjoy IF/TA, and I look forward to reading more of Andrew Plotkin's work.

You have no desire to look night in the face., May 11, 2015
by scottmbruner (alameda, california)
It's a testament to Andrew Plotkin's skill as an IF writer that this is my least favorite of his works that I've played so far, and yet I would still highly recommend people experience its tight, disturbing narrative. (and plan to do so, soon).

It's a "one-room" game with no real puzzles nor ability to affect or shape the main narrative, but that's probably the point. The "reality" of your situation and this inevitable illumination of your predicament is superbly crafted.

My gripe is that it didn't impact me as much as others, and I can't explain why. I was more frustrated with trying to understand what was going on and the psychological horror elements never entirely took hold, and the final denouement also added to cognitive confusion (at the expense of an emotional gut punch). That being said, it's such a perfect example of what IF can do when it colors outside the lines, and it's such a short game, I can't imagine there being any reason not to experience it and see how your mileage varies.

Plotkin has created, through details such as the songs that play on your apartment radio to the transfiguring plant in the corner, a very believable world which then compels you to stop believing in it.

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Good, but getting stuck is a pain., December 31, 2014
by Chai Hai (Kansas City KS)
This was a good game, by all means. I enjoyed it, the mechanics of delirium were done well. My main complaint is the claustrophobic setting of the game, especially in earlier parts where you can easily become put off by the lack of action. I know that was intentional and is part of its "charm", but I almost gave up early on with the vacuum.

The ending was also a letdown, being ambiguous about what actually happened. Tell us one way or the other, not some weird could be whatever ending. All in all, good game.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Hmmm... huh?... ho hum., December 30, 2014
Very well written -- moody, evocative, and not too heavy-handed -- but I found steadily declining pleasure in it, especially once I got to the (Spoiler - click to show)fiddle-with-every-damn-object-until-something-happens section. Eventually the puzzle-solving part of my brain checked out and went on vacation somewhere, leaving me to go look for a walkthrough.

It didn't help that I saw the plot twist coming from the minute I saw (Spoiler - click to show)sand.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A reference, December 2, 2013
by Simon Deimel (Germany)
SHADE is not a long game. It is not an extensive game in the sense of locations. It has a quite linear course. It is not very difficult, once you get the hang of it. SHADE is simply awesome, just because of the story that is tells.
After a long time, remembering the old text adventures that I played on my old Amstrad machine, I decided to look for something similar nowadays, and I started with SHADE. Now the game is surely much shorter than commercial games were 20 years ago, but the atmosphere was overwhelming. After a while it was easy to find out what to do next, and each action is rewarded with another disturbing reaction of the environment. I felt drawn into the story and could hardly stop until the end, which can be interpreted in various ways. The game takes place in a single location, but the many implementations create a true-to-life experience, even as things start to change.
All in all SHADE is a reference how interactive fiction has to be composed. It is a delightful treat for both beginners and veterans of text-based games.


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