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6th Place overall; 1st Place, Miss Congeniality Awards - 12th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2006)
Winner, Best Writing; Winner, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best NPCs; Winner, Best Individual Puzzle; Winner, Best Individual PC - 2006 XYZZY Awards
The first puzzle is a kind of maze, although more like Robert Abbott's "logic mazes" than the twisty little variety that everyone seems to hate. [...] To put it briefly, I loved this puzzle. The mansion opens up a little bit at a time as you play. Manipulating the mansion properly will allow you to reach a new area, which you can use to manipulate another bit of the mansion, which will allow you to reach another new area... and it keeps going on like that until you've explored the entire place. You always have either a new room to visit or a new thing to play with. This pacing kept me interested and engaged through the entire puzzle. [...]
My recommendation: Get this game, and just play the first half. (That's until you use the first intention.) That half of the game is well designed and well worth your time.
-- DJ Hastings
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Number of Reviews: 10
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
This is a fascinating game - especially at first, when trying to work out exactly what is going on. The lack of the ability to pick up or manipulate objects in the normal way seems frustrating initially, but it's easy to adjust to. One great feature is a notepad that tracks what the player character has discovered about the workings of the mansion - a nice touch.
The second part of the game has split reviewers more. This takes place in the same mansion, while aforementioned party is going on. The events of the party are fractured in time: the same characters appear in different locations simultaneously, to indicate their participation in events at different stages of the evening. The player must collect "intentions" and unite them with the appropriate person. In doing this, a murderous (albeit poetic) tapestry is unravelled.
I thought both parts were intriguing and original. The first is indeed a stronger concept and more satisfying to solve, but the second part is startling (and, in places, baffling) enough to make it distinctive.
One of the conceits of Wallpaper is that the setting reacts to your presence: passageways will open or close depending on your movements. This is not very friendly for somebody like me, who can barely keep track of the relative position of moderately complex rooms when everything's standing still. And, for reasons that will hopefully become clear as you play, nearly all non-movement verbs other than examine have been disabled, so if you don't like mazes you ought to go home now. Or you could, like me, take advantage of the walkthrough to get through this obnoxious section: after spending a frustrating half-hour trying to solve it on my own, I eventually followed the walkthrough to the letter, barely paying attention to room descriptions.
If you do manage to make it to Wallpaper's second half, you'll be rewarded by one of the most fantastically innovative chunks of gameplay IF has produced. I won't spoil anything, but you'll be dealing with potentialities and motivations rather than physical objects, and the puzzles are simultaneously mind-bending and logical, sadistic and satisfying. If you get stuck in either section, the command "read notes" will help; here, it provides some rather illuminating hints, both to the puzzles at hand and the larger story. Helping everything fall into place is an unrivaled joy.
While I can't support the migraine-inducing maze, I can say this: Delightful Wallpaper is the most paradigm-shifting half of an IF I've yet encountered.
I though the first half of this game was really fun. A definite 5 stars for the first half.
If the second half was presented on its own, it might get a 3 or 4. It wasn't necessarily bad, but I didn't find it as interesting or captivating. And I felt like it required a lot of trial-and-error.
DESCRIPTION PART 1:
This is a puzzle-y game. The subtitle in the splash screen talks about a murder mystery, but the goal of this game isn't really to solve any mysteries or murders. Some people are describing it as a "maze" which I don't agree with. But the first half of the game is a puzzle based on how you travel through the rooms of the house, so perhaps that's the reason?
Once you accept the fact that you can't physically interact with anything (apart from walking over things), you have to figure out just what you can do to affect the world around you. I think this made for an ingenious puzzle, which involves traversing through the rooms of the house in the right order so as to achieve the effects you desire.
I wonder if those who were frustrated with the "maze-like" aspect thought to plot a map of the house as they went? I never once thought of the house as a maze since there was almost always a clear way to travel from one room to another. The key was just to make sure you travelled through the rooms in the correct order on your way to your destination. This isn't difficult as long as you have a map detailing the different entryways and you remember to keep the in-game notes in mind.
DESCRIPTION PART 2:
I didn't particularly dislike the second half, though I can understand why some people did not find it as enthralling.
In the second half you no longer have to worry about the house. Instead you focus on the guests that have finally arrived. The goal of the second half of the game is to place "intentions" onto the characters or object in the rooms in order to manipulate the characters into a certain action. This did not feel difficult but (for me at least) it required mostly trial-and-error to get a final result. The notes seem to hint at a specific configuration but I couldn't find a way to arrange the intentions exactly as the notes suggested.
They weren't difficult, though the second puzzle took a lot of trial-and-error.
The house puzzle was internally logical. The cause-and-effect actions were always consistent and the notes were indispensable for keeping track of them. The behaviour of the house never felt random or like the game was trying to trick me
I can see similarities between the two main puzzles of the game, since they are both in a similar vein of strategizing. In the first, you want to strategically plan your routes through the rooms so as to manipulate the house appropriately. In the second, you want to optimize your arrangement of the intentions to ensure everyone gets a conclusion. But it feels like two different games.
A very helpful part of the first puzzle is that the notebook you keep on you will automatically update itself and help explain to you just what effects you have had on the house (in case you missed the alerts in the text as I know I often did).
The language is nicely stylized. It has a sort of Victorian flair that lends to the atmosphere about the game. The narrator seems to get distracted by wallpaper on occasion, though I still don't understand why.
You aren't given an initial motivation to explore the house, nor are you given a goal at the start of the game. I assume the player is meant to eventually realize that they should be trying to open all the closed doors, but it isn't ever explained why. (You are eventually rewarded for your efforts with an item that you need that leads to the second half of the game, but I don't recall the game ever telling me I was looking for it, or even that I was searching for something at all).
(Also, though I say "all the rooms" I still never figured out a way to open the uninteresting doors).
In regards to story, from my understanding the purpose of this game is to present the "mansion murder mystery" from a new perspective. While you are able to observe the guests while in the house, you know nothing of them outside their behaviour in the mansion, and you can not interact with them in any substantial way. However, once you reach the end and learn who (Spoiler - click to show)(or what) the player character really was, I think it helped that aspect of the game make sense (the house still wasn't explained but I'm happy to leave it to a willing suspension of disbelief).
Don't get your hopes up for a scientific or real-world explanation for what happened. There is an air of supernatural about the story throughout (the house responding to your movements, for instance; as well as the message you receive if you try to touch anything) which is reinforced by the short concluding blurb. Even though it was only a couple sentences, I felt like the ending conclusively explained the character's motivations (but I'm sure some people might not agree with the sort of "non-explanation" explanation that was given).
My biggest advice is make a map. And label the types of doorways or arches or entrances. It will make this game immensely easier than if you don't. (I use Trizbort for maps, and there is plenty of other map-making freeware out there).
See All 10 Member Reviews
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Xyzzy "Best Individual Puzzle" winners by Nusco
All the games that won the Best Individual Puzzle award, year by year. I'll avoid giveaway spoilers in my comments, but I'll still comment on the type and difficulty of the puzzle. I'll describe the puzzles by my own categories....
PollsThe following polls include votes for Delightful Wallpaper:
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I'm interested in examples of excellent individual puzzles in IF. In other words: not 'Spider and Web' so much as 'getting out of the chair' in 'Spider and Web'
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Some puzzles--like chess problems or sudokus--can be difficult even though you know all the rules. I'm looking for IF games with this kind of puzzle: you can get to know the rules by simple exploration, and then you still have to solve...
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