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About the StoryShe wanted answers. He wanted a cure. You just wanted to live.
Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2010 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
I totally recommend that you play the beginning of this game. It is very much worth it. And then just decide to end the game when you’ve escaped the house. Pretend that that’s the end of the game and call yourself a winner. It’s OK; you have my permission. (Of course, this is subject to change if/when a post-Comp version is released.)
On one level, this game has a beauty, an allure... a sensuality running through it. A spell. I felt like I couldn't stop with it, and this is the first comp game in a long time where I remember going far in excess of the two hour mark. I wanted to find the end. I cared.
That said—and there's unintentional metaphor here—the critical ingredient of the spell that binds you tightly and draws you through the game? The bit that makes it possible to find its ultimate conclusion? The walkthrough. I honestly don't see how you could get through this game without it.
At first blush the game is silly and on rails, but then suddenly it grows sinister and seductive and opens up in such a vast way that the interactor has no clue where to go, what to do. I tried an attempt without the walkthrough—and got far!—but could never have found the end alone. I'm not sure how this could have been mitigated, either. On the one hand, I enjoyed the agency it gave me, but it gave too much, too quickly. I drowned.
I said I was deeply conflicted on a few levels, and I've only touched on a couple. I should move on with that.
There are other things this piece does really, really well. For example, it does a great job of show—don't tell—with accents. By the time I was half-way through, I was reading dialog in my head that dripped of humid Southern nights laced with cicadas. This was done exceptionally well, without misspelling everything to hit you over the head with it. Maybe I only picked up on this due to having spent a lot of my time in the South, though. I'd be interested to hear others' views on this point.
To continue with respect to the writing: it is this lovely mix of succinct matter-of-factness, evocative descriptions, and eloquent dialogue. This is what hooked me fairly early on, kept me going through my initial dismay, and teased me far enough along that I couldn't let go.
Also, we begin with this sense of being a slave, of being directed, and gaining volition... earning it. That was well done, though (as mentioned above) I think the author loosened the reins just a touch too quickly.
(Spoiler - click to show)I've been asked what I thought of the Voodoo. It is, at its core, the sensationalist sort of voodoo you get in horror novels and Hollywood. But that's what this is meant to be, despite the author's research. It's obvious he knows a bit about Voodoo, though if this is because he's spent time in New Orleans or just read a lot of articles on Wikipedia, I'm not sure. I'm completely unfamiliar with Louisiana Voodoo.
But I know enough of Voodoo from a trip I made to Haiti and books I've read since that trip and research into some of the artifacts I brought back with me that I understood a lot of the terminology used in this piece of fiction. It was interesting to compare and contrast what I knew of Voodoo to this. I'm not sure if the areas where things diverge are on account of Louisiana culture, or just the sensationalism.
It's a work of fiction. It's probably pretty offensive to some. But I took it as a work of fiction, and I enjoyed it.
I didn't realize (for some reason(!)) until after I'd completed the game, that there was a hint menu. Maybe that would have been enough. Maybe I could have gotten through without the walkthrough. Maybe I could have found my way without feeling led. That's really all that held me back on scoring this very, very well. But I rather doubt that to be the case. Some of the things in the walkthrough felt so. poorly. cued. I stand by my original statement: I don't see how you could have gotten through this game without the walkthrough. If you did, please leave a comment. I'd love to know.
I wanted this to be more. Really wanted it to be more.
I should probably give this a 3, but I enjoyed it too much, and thus gave this a 4. That is, admittedly, a bit of a gift.
Some of the fun in the game is figuring out what is going on, so I won't go into too many details. Suffice it to say that this game uses a setting that is rare in interactive fiction, and seems to be based off of extensive research.
I played without a walkthrough through the opening section, which most reviewers agree is an incredible part of any game. Then the game opens up and dumps you in the middle of nowhere. I had fun exploring for a while, and picked up a few tricks. I tried over the course of a couple days to see how far I could get, then turned to the walkthrough.
I'm glad I tried on my own first. The walkthrough works, but is confusing if you haven't tried the game on your own first (some actions get hinted later on).
The NPCs are amazing. Those taken from the author's research are vibrant and rich, with striking imagery. I will probably play this game again just for fun. Recommended, with a walkthrough, after an attempt.
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