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For a Change

by Dan Schmidt profile

Surreal
1999

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Number of Reviews: 7
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
The Case of the Missing Spinster, August 17, 2010
I'm on a bit of a kick about solving games without hints, and I very much wanted to add this one to the list. I failed to, however, because I didn't quite get what was going on in the endgame. In particular, I didn't think of the needed action because I was too occupied with wondering whether or not the situation I found myself in was inevitable (as it turns out it was). This is a meta-issue about design forgiveness, etc., that I probably should have anticipated correctly.

This game is one of the most well-known exercises in IF defamiliarization. It uses synaesthesia and a type of blurring of other semantic categories to suggest the manipulation of alien technologies. Everything is a symbol, and the actions that you take are almost certainly large-scale allegorical constructions of many long-term actions. It reminded me somewhat of being in control of some type of simulation game whose rules you have to infer and whose internal operations are completely incomprehensible.

The author mentions Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun as an influence (along with Ben Marcus's The Age of Wire and String, which, unlike the Wolfe, I wouldn't have guessed), and there are particular resonances with the events described in The Urth of the New Sun, though I didn't pick up on any similar cosmogonic or theological concerns.

A brief problem, which I allude to in the title of this review and which might have been due to my failure to pay attention is (Spoiler - click to show)What about the spinster? I found nothing to do with it during the course of the game, and, after I looked at the hints, I noticed they said that its use would become apparent when the time came. How so? Was there something about it if I examined the model during the deluge? You can't see it afterwards, can you? Was it just a red herring?

Comments on this review

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thomasjent, October 26, 2011 - Reply
I was concerned about the spinster as well. I hate loose ends.

I suppose it became relevant when there was sun again, but I'm not sure what its affinity for the player signifies... It is entirely possible that it is just a metaphor. If anyone knows how to interact with it, please speak up! :)
Jim Kaplan, June 8, 2013 - Reply
I took it to mean that the spinster was a hint to the player about the light puzzle. In any case, it's not the only time the hints are less than completely honest with the player!
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