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Savoir-Faire

by Emily Short profile

Episode 1 of Lavori d'Aracne
Fantasy
2002

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Number of Reviews: 9
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
One of the great puzzle games, July 28, 2015
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)
I still haven't finished Savoir-Faire. I played through almost the entire main part of the game a couple of months ago, but then I had to move house and the game languished for a while. Returning to it, I was overwhelmed by the amount of objects I had collected and the amount of information I had at one time processed. I found it very hard to get into the game again. Enough had slipped away that I needed to replay the game, but enough remained in my memory that this would have been mostly boring. No matter. I'll put it aside for now and return at some later point in time, knowing that there will be still more for me to discover -- including de denouement.

For let it be clear that Savoir-Faire is a game you will wish to return to, not so much because of its plotting (which is slow) or its characterisation (which isn't exciting), but because of the beauty and intricacy of its puzzles and of the model world that supports them. Savoir-Faire is in many ways an old-school puzzle game, which means that it is hard; but it is also fair. Banging your head against its mysteries is bound to be a very rewarding experience, and I would encourage you not to use a walkthrough or a hint file. This game is worth persevering.

A large part of the game's beauty comes from its central puzzle mechanic, which is incredibly flexible but also strict enough to give coherence to the whole. This mechanic is the Lavori d'Aracne, which I suppose translates to the "labours of Arachne", that is, the spinning of spider webs. It is a kind of magic in which you can link objects that are like each other, and they will then start exhibiting the same behaviour. E.g., you link two boxes, and then, when you open one of them, the other will be opened as well. A large part of the game is spent exploring the possibilities and limits of this system, and while these limits may sometimes feel a bit arbitrary, they are consistent enough that one will keep faith in the game.

Savoir-Faire is possibly my favourite large puzzle game. And next time I return to it -- perhaps in a year or two -- I'll finally solve it! I'm sure of it.