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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:Beautiful, March 31, 2018
by ryantan5577(note: this was previously a private review, written prior to creating this account - it has been edited for clarity)
I loved Harmonia. The annotations were genius, breaking the boundaries of interactive fiction and indeed, digital games in general. The contrast between the messy scrawls and the neatness of the rest of the text helped emphasise the game's authenticity, a feature that was further reinforced by the references to 19th century utopian texts. There was just one instance in Chapter Eight in which the annotations for the ceiling and the floor overlapped, but even then it was possible to read the topmost layer by highlighting the chunk of words, and in any case it wasn't a major obstruction to the story. An issue raised in the post-mortem was the dilemma in deciding whether or not to choose a different style for hyperlinks that advanced the story as opposed to those that simply provided extra information. While the decision to keep things simple did achieve its effect, I was sometimes bothered by the possibility that a hyperlink I clicked on would cause the others to disappear. The result of this was me having to make a decision between two choices that might have been equally tempting, and to do so with choices that might not even have been mutually exclusive in the first place. Besides this minor complaint, however, I have nothing to say about the annotations besides that they were exceedingly creative.
On the topic of design, one review commended the texture of the game, and I cannot agree more, what with the breathtaking pictures, and the different fonts for the readings, articles, and posters. I was honestly left shaking my head in admiration upon returning to the synopsis after completing the game and realising that it is supposed to be "edited by E. Merchant", a detail which explains the scrapbook style of the game as a whole. That these themes run so coherently throughout the game is no surprise, considering how polished it is.
The plot of Harmonia was just as good. One review mentioned predictability, but the clues left leading to the uncovering of Alice's identity didn't seem especially obvious, at least from my point of view. Harmonia was written as a mystery and I thought it worked well as one. The only issue I had was with the most significant choice at the end, where the player decides whether Abby or Lynn goes into the machine. Apart from the fact that Lynn had been deprived of water for a period of time, which might have affected his state of mind, I didn't think it entirely plausible that he would fall for the trap of going into the machine, judging by his writing and especially his annotations which suggested a much more intelligent character. It might have been more effective if Abby instead wrote like an unreliable narrator, not disclosing the fact that she was operating under a plan, such that the impact on the readers would have been similar to that on Lynn, whose reaction would then have driven the story forward. Nevertheless I liked the choice itself and the opportunities it presented.
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