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Metamorphoses

by Emily Short profile

Fantasy
2000

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Number of Reviews: 7
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Technically Innovative and Narratively Intriguing, March 27, 2012
by Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.)
Related reviews: emily short, fantasy
Play it if: you have a thing for fairy tales, ancient Greek philosophy, non-linear puzzle-solving, or general weirdness.

Don't play it if: you want truly difficult puzzles or a backstory that completely wins your heart.

Metamorphoses has many of the traits I like the most about Emily Short's best work: a fascination with the past, a fairy-tale atmosphere, and innovative game mechanics - traits which can be found to various extents in works like Galatea, Savoir-Faire, and Bronze.

In this game, it is the mechanics which come to the foreground, with your ability to resize objects as well as change their chemical composition. It's absurdly tempting to lose sight of the game altogether and just spend time looking for different configurations you can achieve with random objects in the setting.

True to form, the puzzles in this story have multiple solutions - courtesy of the above-mentioned game mechanics - and while this substantially reduces the overall difficulty of the game in some ways, it in no way detracts from the fun. In fact, a couple of puzzles may even be harder, since you are forced to consider the uses of not only the normal objects in your inventory, but also the potential objects. In this sense the game is nothing short of mind-expanding in terms of how interactive fiction can model worlds.

The rest of the game, while solid, is more textbook. As you solve puzzles you learn more and more of the protagonist's backstory and understand something of her role in this world. It's good stuff and quite intriguing, but by itself it won't really hook you or haunt you afterwards. Which is fine - a game can't be everything at once - but it does mean that you'll be more likely to find the game itself impressive than the story.

Nevertheless, this is a work that is definitely worth your time: a quirky setting, an interesting story, fun non-linear puzzles, and most of all some fascinating game mechanics.

P.S. Personally, I was curious as to whether or not living objects could be modified. Shame that I couldn't find an animal or something to try it out on...