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Shade

by Andrew Plotkin profile

Travel
2000

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Reviews and Ratings

5 star:
(80)
4 star:
(102)
3 star:
(42)
2 star:
(7)
1 star:
(10)
Average Rating:
Number of Ratings: 241
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- Callust (Michigan), January 2, 2011

6 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
What happened?, December 29, 2010
Some people might think from my breathless review of Spider and Web that I am an Andrew Plotkin groupie. This is not the case. While I have tremendous respect for his fearsome combination of seamless coding and tight story-telling*, he is, in the end, only human. Shade is the reminder.

The start of this work exhibits all of Mr. Plotkin's hallmark qualities: his trick of making the mundane seem interesting with inventive prose, his expert sense of how long to keep the player in suspense before providing the next clue about what's going on, his knack for making the story follow you before you can follow it. The excellence of this work set up some high expectations about what would come next.

To me, everything about the first half of the game seemed to be pointing towards a particular moment of revelation, in which the player would literally "wake up" and begin a new section of gameplay. This never happened. Instead, things take a sharp turn towards the weird and abstract, and the story leaves the player in the lurch, confused and unsatisfied about which, if any, of the tensions introduced in the first half were resolved.

When abstraction is introduced, art is always in danger of sliding down the slippery slope from transcendent to incomprehensible. Shade, unfortunately, goes right over the edge. While it is tempting to think that I just "missed it", it seems more likely that Mr. Plotkin's profound intuition misled him here in deciding how to communicate whatever he was trying for. [edit: Turns out there was quite a bit I just missed. (Spoiler - click to show)The studied opinion of IF master Emily Short shows that a careful reading of the text provides plenty of evidence (subtle though some of it may be) to support a consistent and interesting interpretation of the end. I've upped my rating by a point to reflect this.]

This game is still worth playing at least once just to marvel at the genius of its functioning as the story's central mystery unwinds. I can't even conceive of what the underlying code for this game looks like, but it feels like something deeply elegant and beautifully simple. If the story had the same coherence, this might have been another landmark work in the field.

* Or is it tight coding and seamless story-telling?

- Carlo, December 26, 2010

- mojay, December 19, 2010

- rootmos (Stockholm, Sweden), December 19, 2010

- GreenSnake, December 4, 2010

- Markoff23, November 22, 2010

- Sophronisba, November 7, 2010

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
a defining title in the genre, November 6, 2010
by The Year Is Yesterday (California)
The "first" IF I played, aside from some Zork as a child, and therefore my first experience of interactive fiction that went beyond mere "text adventure," blurring the lines between literature and game. To this day, the experience hasn't been surpassed. There isn't much challenge here: let the story unfold, and just try not to get drawn in by the bleak, arid atmosphere.

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Ultimately unfulfilled, October 20, 2010
by Sig (Olalla, WA, US)
Related reviews: newbie
...though perhaps that was part of the point.

Initially, I felt like I was humoring the game, waiting for it to give me some reason to do something. Then I was weirded out. Then I was very weirded out. (Spoiler - click to show)Having spent some time in Afghanistan, I am more familiar than I care to be with sand that gets in everything--I had a rather strong emotional reaction as things started getting, er, shifty.

Unfortunately, after a while, I just started getting annoyed. Part of that is simply from inexperience with the medium--I have not done many of these, and I have a better sense now of what is needed to progress than I did starting out. But after a while it became clear that everything was heading in a certain direction, and it was only left to me to figure out the right keywords to make it go that way in a timely fashion; this is where the annoyance really came in.

The ending was odd. It's hard to strike just the right note of ambiguity without leaving most people scratching their heads wondering what just happened. For me, it wasn't quite right, but other people apparently were enthralled with it, so I'm not willing to criticize too much.

Enjoyable. Creepy, particularly if you have spent much time in deserts. The more I think about it, the more I like it. Even if you end up hating it, you'll probably think about it a bit, and it only took this tyro about 50 minutes--surely you can spare an hour.

- FeralPawn (Australia), October 15, 2010

- Adam Rezich, October 10, 2010

- Chris Longhurst (Oxford, UK), September 30, 2010

- Brian Lavelle (Edinburgh, Scotland), September 12, 2010

- Aaron (Lille, France), August 28, 2010

- peterb, August 26, 2010

- Clemency Jones (England), August 26, 2010

- Telvayne (Tennessee, USA), August 18, 2010

- Alder (San Francisco), August 15, 2010

- Joel Webster (Madison, WI), July 26, 2010

- Celestianpower (Gloucestershire, UK), July 25, 2010

- Buffaloelvis, July 22, 2010

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), July 19, 2010

- karcher, July 10, 2010

- Stickz (Atlanta, Georgia), June 22, 2010


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