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Tricks and Truth, May 26, 2013
by Andromache (Hawaii)I started this game some years ago but never finished it. I must have gotten stuck early on. But I remembered the mystery of what I did see of the story and decided I wanted to finish it and see the whole thing. Honestly, I'm a bit confused about the meaning - what was real and what illusion.
The city was well-realized and I especially liked how descriptions change as the character becomes familiar with the place and the novelty of grandeur wears off.
Some of the sarcastic conversation options had me laughing with joy. Very witty. It's even possible to lie, and I had the character do both a time or three.
Then, later in the game, you really feel like a tourist yourself when you see all the mistakes you made. (Spoiler - click to show)The sign in the dorm. I'll probably have to replay and try different options with the benefit of hindsight one day.
Figuring out who was good and bad was interesting as well. One is led to think one thing and then in the course of talking to characters, you start seeing factions, those who are trying not to get in trouble with either side, and by the end, perspective changes again. (Spoiler - click to show)By the end, I absolutely hated Malik and wanted to kill him. Is there a way to save Simon?
There are shades of Lord of the Rings in the story, where one is forever changed by contact with a specific item and the resulting trauma.
(Spoiler - click to show)My favorite NPC was the tech guy. He didn't look like much, but very sharp. Managed to feel amiable even as he was performing minor surgery.
There were some things I didn't like.
The text-only option does not have a built-in help system.
I got stuck mid-game trying to figure out how to move the story along. (Spoiler - click to show)The Gnostic Temple puzzle. The solution turned out to be something I should have known but for some reason I hadn't tried. The clue was given only once, and if you missed it, too bad. No way to get it back short of restoring a game, if you were lucky to have one before that point. There may be a "transcript" option for this game but I'm not sure. I never use that feature. Managed to find the solution online and had no more problems, though I wish I hadn't had to resort to that.
There are some odd wrinkles in the conversations and items. (Spoiler - click to show)Specificly, housekeeping versus sweet-making robots, verbene alcohol or the plant, and an allusion to food making you ill even if you didn't actually eat it. I think that ruins the flow of the narrative and spoils the experience of the game a little.
The ending is kind of confusing. I'm still trying to piece together what happened. And I don't feel altogether comfortable with things I'm forced to do. Though I'm happy I was able to restore order.
I'm not really a fan of conversation-based games because I tend to feel like I'm not doing anything productive. For me, conversations are fun to read but not so nice to play. Harder to synthesize information gleaned from talking to people. Unfortunately, there was too much of it here. Too much repetition.
Yet, for all this negativity and frustration, the game was written so well; the world was fascinating; and the initial discovery of the city and change in the protagonist by the end made for a memorable, thought-provoking experience. And if literature doesn't make one think and feel deeply, what was the point?
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