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About the StoryIt's been almost a month since your parents disappeared.
One Tuesday, they just didn't come home, and there's been no sign of them since. For the University and the rest of the town, the mystery is beginning to pall. To those people, it's as if Claire and Scott Colborn suddenly stopped existing -- strange and inexplicable, to be sure, but forgettable in the long run.
But for you it's as if the ground beneath your feet stopped existing, and you've been plummeting in freefall ever since. Your brother Austin, though, has been a rock through the whole experience, handling the numbing details, the endless meetings with useless detectives, even sorting through Mom and Dad's lab in hopes of finding an answer. Now you stand outside the lab door, clutching his note, hardly daring to hope that such an answer may have arrived at long last.
-- Emily Short
It's obvious that a great deal of care went into making this game intuitively interactive. Several conversation systems are provided, so that the player is free to take whatever approach he likes: this is novel, and possibly overkill, but it expresses a good faith intention to put the control fully into the player's hands. More impressively, perhaps, the game accounts for a wide variety of behavior on the player's part.
-- Emily Short
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An IF Comp entry, Earth and Sky takes no chances with the recommended timeline for gameplay; it seems impossible that you might not finish within the allotted two hours. Its relatively linear story -- usually a big turnoff for me -- is compensated for by the fact that this story is fun to read and still somehow offers a sense of freedom. Rather than feeling railroaded by the plot requirements, you feel swept along by the fast-paced events you are involved in; instead of feeling pushed, you are racing to keep up.
Like the early Lone Ranger or Flash Gordon serials, this work is unapologetic in its use of cliche conventions and its cliffhanger ending. It has no need for apology -- indeed, it shows us why those cliches exist in the first place, and the authors have delivered on their promise for more in the game's two award-winning sequels.
Though I haven't felt the urge to replay the game since I first tried it a few years back, this is a fun one that's well-suited to a lunch-hour diversion, or as a friendly introduction to the form for an IF newcomer.
I went looking for a bit of fun playing with superheroes in IF, and this game both satisfied my craving and fixed my gaze hungrily on the next installment. Earth and Sky is very brief (less than 30 minutes for some players, I'd expect), and, within its chosen scope, very satisfying.
Well, the game is very short, and we don't really get to use our powers except (a) in a training sessions, and (b) in a very straightforward and easy fight at the end. One feels little of the empowerment that usually comes with gaining special abilities in games.
But what is especially off-putting is the story. It makes no sense, and has no depth. Now I can understand that the superhero genre is not the most realistic, but that doesn't excuse the absurdities of this plot. I'd love to rage against all its stupidities, but it is impossible to do so without spoiling most of the story. Think of people who receive a deadly dose of nuclear radiation, and thereby develop X-ray vision which allows them to look through walls even though there is no source of X-ray radiation anywhere nearby -- that is the kind of logic you're in for. And there is no deeper layer of human interest which excuses it.
The implementation is slick, and I can see why people would enjoy playing through the game. But man, that story.
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