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Symetry

by Ryan Stevens

Lovecraftian
1997

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Number of Reviews: 2
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Mirror mirror off-the-wall, September 22, 2020
by AKheon (Finland)
Related reviews: IF Comp 1997, horror, parser-based, Inform
Symetry is a short parser-based horror game by Ryan Stevens, or Rybread, published in 1997. It's about a posh aristocrat who has an encounter with a haunted mirror.

With a small game world and a completely linear story, the gameplay basically boils down to figuring out the next command that lets you progress; sometimes it's easy, sometimes hard. The design is usually not very intuitive; for instance, the first item you find is a letter opener, but you don't even use it to open the envelope that you are carrying. The worst part is (Spoiler - click to show)the finale where plot-critical clothing - a night gown - appears on your character out of nowhere in the middle of a frantic timed section. I don't think this section is impossible to figure out without a walkthrough, but it's still quite nonsensical and unfair to the player.

The writing style is both pretentiously ornate and riddled with typos, like a bad imitation of classic gothic horror. The poor writing and the pompous yet crude tone almost makes Symetry seem like some sort of a parody game. Who knows, maybe it is? But to the game's credit, some of the imagery is otherworldly enough that it does have a somewhat memorable or unnerving effect.

The game has some bugs too. On my first playthrough I somehow managed to turn off the lamp so that I ended up in complete darkness with nothing happening afterwards, although I no longer remember what command created this result.

The game comes with a walkthrough as well as some other "bonuses" which seem fairly random.

With a better implementation and writing Symetry could have been a decent horror title. But, as it stands, it's closer to a clunky curiosity. It could still offer some fun for 15 minutes if you're willing to accept a few design shortcomings and other peculiarities.