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16th Place - 11th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2005)
Nominee, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual NPC - 2005 XYZZY Awards
The lack of motivation or direction makes it very difficult to figure out what to do in this game, and the PC's special powers only add to the problem. I really like the premise, and the author has good writing skills, but it will take a lot more to make this a good game.
-- DJ Hastings
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Related reviews: magic, magic system, simulationist, fantasy, anime, how not to do it
Gilded is mainly of interest because of its horribly overpowered magic system. The player can shapechange at will, but this is the easiest aspect of its design: you can also magically create and summon objects. This would suggest a creative, simulationist approach to puzzles, but... well, imagine Scribblenauts with a plot, an antagonist and an expansive setting, but without clear, limited objectives. Now imagine it as implemented by a single author of moderate ability. You can create or summon virtually any object, but the game almost never understands the implications of this. Your antagonist is digging a hole; you summon his spade, and he keeps right on digging. You can summon the pants off NPCs and they carry on regardless. And sometimes the system just fails entirely. You're faced with an impossibly vast array of options, almost none of which do anything significant.
This is compounded by writing that doesn't always successfuly convey what's going on with the plot. The result is something that relies on read-the-author's-mind, that's near-unplayable without a walkthrough and difficult even then. Gilded isn't exactly a work of mad genius; its core mechanics are all old ideas, just hugely overextended. But it has a strange charm, and its design is a useful cautionary tale.
The game is vast, and only the things the author thought up themselves are implemented (i.e. if you don't do exactly what they want, then nothing happens). You can 'summon' or 'create' just about anything, and shapechange.
There are a lot of NPCs, and extensive conversations/textdumps, but the game is buggy.
Fun to play around with, but not fun to try to beat.
Gilded on IFDB
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