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Eurydice

by Anonymous

Mythological
2012

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Number of Ratings: 32
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- Wanderlust, August 3, 2017

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Alack! Alas! A loss of mine time, February 27, 2017
by Audiart (Davis, CA)
Self-indulgent purple prose with very little plot and punctuation. I suspect there is a very good reason the author did not write their name on this game. Do yourself a favor and spend an hour with Ovid instead.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A mid length parser about loss and remembrance based on the Greek myth, October 26, 2016
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: melancholic
You, the PC, are mired in grief for the loss of Celine. Everything in the house, the initial setting, reminds the PC of Celine, down to the most trivial detail.

The setting, here, is both used to elicit the PC's memories and to create a sense of claustrophobia. Despite the social nature of funerals, the PC's grief is so intensely private, that to share it with others would be an invasion, almost. The tone is bleak - actions are sometimes rebuffed with terse messages: "You've been better"; "You can't remember anything important now".

Unusual turns of phrase - the curve like that of a human spine; the baboonish chatter - make everyday settings seem strange, something highlighted with the reality-bending lyre, one of the most obvious elements borrowed from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

The game allows for exploration and is generally forgiving, except for the endgame, in which the player's sequence of actions is crucial.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Grief via Virgil., July 18, 2016
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: IFComp 2012, Inform, fantasy
(I originally published this review on 6 October 2012 as part of my blog of IFComp 2012. This was the 9th of 26 games I reviewed.)

When I was in high school, the music students (not me) put on a production of Orpheus in the Underworld. I found this embarrassing because the cool school where my dad taught would put on normal shows like Grease and Dracula Spectacular. Anyway, I didn't go to see Orpheus then and I didn't read his story at any time in the intervening period, leaving me in a theoretically weaker than ideal position for playing Eurydice, an adventure about bereavement named for Orpheus's wife. The game is initially character focused and entirely realistic, showing some very strong writing in this area. It then takes an unexpected turn into more fable-like territory. My preference that the game had stayed entirely in the first mode is irrelevant; it has many fine qualities.

Before the game opens, the male PC's dear friend, maybe love, Celine, has died. The circumstances of her death are sketched in over the length of the game. The PC and his flatmates are having a wake-like gathering of some friends and acquaintances when play begins. This first part of the game is essentially puzzle free, and sees you wandering around the house reminiscing, feeling strange and self-conscious and finding it agonising to interact socially. The quick elucidation of the PC's relationship with each of the friends is superb. Talking to each person for the first time produces at least one paragraph of sentiment free appraisal of their role in your life and in Celine's life. The sharp observations make the cast and situation feel real.

I've been keen and am keen to play a game that works well in this fashion for its duration, and which is also not just a short story on rails. I thought this game might be it, so I had to admit my disappointment to myself when, after strolling out of the game house, I came across a character who was clearly a Charon the Ferryman type ready to paddle me to some fantasyland. Perhaps the prevalence of afterlife games in IF in general weighed into my reaction here.

Transported to the underworld, the player's goal is now to (Spoiler - click to show)find and retrieve Celine from a mental hospital staffed by incarnations of the characters from Virgil's Eurydice tale. This is nowhere near as Ingmar Bergmanesque as it sounds. It's not like you walk in and meet a chap who says, "I am Hades." That chap is a doctor in this game, and some of the parser's responses to your actions describe him as Hades, but he never mentions that name himself that I noticed, nor do any of the characters mention any of the Greek names. I didn't study the tale of Eurydice until after I had played, and the technically subtle approach of the game to the twinning of the hospital residents and the Greek characters is clever.

Eurydice the game may become more traditionally puzzley in style in this section, but it was a bit disingenuous of me to draw a blunt line through the midpoint of the game, as the PC's recollections of events and time spent in Celine's room maintain the realistic and sometimes poignant outlook established in the early scenes. It's just that now additional ways to move forward may include (Spoiler - click to show)playing the lyre.

There are minor proofreading issues and implementation gaps scattered consistently across the game. The only ones which actually disrupted my play were the fact that the hospital doorbell was not described as a button, making me wonder why I couldn't pull or ring it, and that the hospital ground descriptions gave the impression that there were many more enterable buildings than there were. These are typical minor mistakes for what appears to be a first game, and all of the game's important elements are solid: its clear setup and (unexpected) trajectory, some well considered endings and brief but very good character writing. The overall combination of elements is novel and there are human truths in here.

- E. W. B., February 23, 2016

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Beautiful, short game about loss and Greek mythology, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
Eurydice is one of those games that felt intimidatingly large, but after playing through it, I was relieved to see it is actually short, sweet, and simple. A huge number of NPC's lie in an early room, but only require minimal interaction. It seems at two different points that there are many different directions to go in, but in both cases the different directions lead to small areas.

The game is a modern retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice. It has a beautiful and haunting atmosphere, and excellent writing.

I won't spoil the plot too much, but this short game has 4 possible endings. The main NPC is painted vividly, while you yourself are left vague and nebulous. The whole feeling is that of a dark afternoon on a November day when the snow hasn't fallen but the world is already dead and gray.

Recommended for everyone. Incredible game.

- Doug Orleans (Somerville, MA, USA), November 21, 2015

Well-written but needs a bit more polish, March 23, 2015

by Simon Christiansen (Denmark)
This review was previously published on a blog in connection with IFComp 2012

Eurydice is a game about dealing with grief. It is well-written, and quite moving at times, but it needs some more polish to reach its full potential.

(Spoiler - click to show)The game begins with a boxed Tennyson quote, which unfortunately covers up the initial room description, and refuses to go away. A bit of experimentation revealed that the quote box worked fine on other interpreters (I am using Frotz), so I am willing to give the author a pass here, but still kinda set the tone for the game to come: Lots of small errors interfering with the otherwise very good writing and atmosphere.

The main character is grieving over the dead of his friend/girlfriend Celine, who has apparently committed suicide. It’s not quite clear what kind of relationship they had, but it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that they clearly cared for one another, and the main character is having a hard time letting go. The “help” text implies that the game is based on the experiences of the author, in which case he is doing a great job describing his feelings.

The game starts in the upper floor of a house, where you wander around alone, exploring Celine’s now empty room, your own room, and maybe some of the others. A sense of desolation and abandonment pervades everything. Celine’s room has been emptied, and all the stuff in your own room just serves to remind you of your loss. The lyre in your room is the only item that doesn’t really fit the mood, which is just as well since you are supposed to notice it and take it with you.

When you finally come down to the ground floor, the atmosphere changes to one of social oppression. Tons of people either live in the house, or has come to show their support, and you would really prefer to be left alone. The scene in the living room turned out to be one my favourites in the game. All of the character’s can be examined and talked to several times, and they all seem like three-dimensional people, even though you don’t get to spend much time with them. I loved interacting with these people, and wished they had played a greater part in the story.

Unfortunately, the implementation problems with the game started to become really apparent by this time. While the things the author wants you to interact with, like the people in the room, are implemented very deeply, he tends to forget everything else. Nothing but the people seems to be implemented in the living room: The sofa, the table, the go game and lots of other things don’t actually exist in the world model. While the implementation can be delightfully deep when it wants to, it’s in sore need of more breadth. Mowing through all the “you can’t see any such thing”s, becomes a chore.

There are also a few too many Inform standard responses for my liking, but most of them aren’t really the kind of actions you would naturally try – unless you are like me, and like to obsessively go through a ton of standard actions to see if the author thought of them.

The writing is very good, with lots of beautiful metaphorical language that only occasionally tends towards the melodramatic. It does a great job of setting the mood, and making you identify with the main character. Unfortunately, it’s also marred by minor technical mistakes. There are several spelling mistakes, some odd formatting errors, and some very long paragraphs that would benefit from being broken up into smaller pieces. Still, it manages to work very well, and I’ll take good writing with spelling mistakes over impeccable mediocre writing any day.

After a while, you decide to go for a walk, and the game gradually segues into an afterlife dream sequence, where the mythological themes become more obvious. You take the place of Orpheus trying to rescue his love from the underworld, with the underworld turning out the be the asylum where she was committed. The character’s in the asylum stand in for various mythological character’s: The Doctor is Hades, the other woman in the asylum is Persephone, and so on.

The game becomes a lot more puzzly around this time. You need to figure how to get the Charon stand-in to sail you to the hospital, how to get past Cerberus etc. At first I was disappointed that the Lyre seemed to be the solution to almost everything, but I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that you are supposed to be tempted to overuse it, as it represents the main character’s escapist tendencies. By using it to solve the puzzles you get a sub-optimal ending, in which the character escapes into a fantasy, and never learns to properly deal with his grief. The prosaic – and much harder – puzzle solutions keep you grounded, and allow you to reach a better ending.

I thought this was a really neat effect, which worked very well in my case. Puzzle based IF and literary IF are all too often considered to be at odds with each other, but you can definitely use puzzles to create literary effects, as this demonstrates.

The various endings neatly illustrate various stages of grief, although they probably work best if you get them in the right order. You can fail to deal with your grief, escape into fantasy, try to forget Celine by focusing on your friends, or truly deal with the grief and move on.

Unfortunately, the puzzles are also a bit marred by inconsistent implementation. For instance, there are several cases where you need to give objects to people to proceed, but merely showing the objects just gives you the standard “X is unimpressed” message. Being the possessive type, I tend to show things to people instead of immediately giving them away, so I struggled to solve some puzzles that were rather simple in themselves. I also had trouble retrieving the object hidden in my coat. You are told that there is something stuck in the lining of the coat, but you can’t interact with parts of the coat, or the “something” in any way. You have to type “search coat” to find it. While searching is an Inform standard action, it’s rarely used nowadays, and it didn’t occur to me to try it.

Despite of all the niggling problems, I was moved by this game, which is something that happens all too rarely. There are lots of things wrong with it, but they are all small things that can easily be fixed with some extra work. I guess my only major problem with it is that it reminds my own complete failure in trying to write a game about grief. I get the feeling that the author is an experienced writer, but new to programming. I recommend teaming up with some veteran IF testers, perhaps even a collaborator, and giving the game a few more coats of polish. As it is, it’s still probably my favorite game in the comp so far.


- Thrax, March 11, 2015

- hoopla, March 7, 2015

- Floating Info, December 31, 2014

- Sobol (Russia), September 12, 2014

- Hannes, November 16, 2013

- N.C. Hunter Hayden, October 29, 2013

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A new life for an old myth, June 29, 2013
(This review was originally posted as part of the 2012 Semi-Official Xyzzy Reviews series, and focuses on the game's nomination in the Best Story category.)

Writing a retelling of an ancient myth, especially one as widely known as that of Orpheus and Eurydice, may seem on the surface like an easy route for a storyteller to take. After all, it gives you a certain framework to follow for the plot and the characters. Furthermore, you can rely on the audience to have a knowledge of the shape of the story you’re trying to tell to a much greater extent than is usually the case. You don’t, for example, have to directly tell the player “this is Hades, King of the Underworld, and this is his queen Persephone, and this is the way their relationship works due to this aspect of their backstory.” You can just put in a character who evokes Hades and a character who evokes Persephone, without ever naming them, and the player’s existing knowledge of the story will do the rest. This applies to thematic elements as well–the title Eurydice alone should give the reader some idea of the ground that will be covered here.

This knowledge on the part of the player is, however, a double-edged sword: they already know how the story goes, so the writer must work that much harder to keep their attention, to convince them that there is something here that they haven’t seen before. Fortunately, Eurydice puts in that necessary effort. Yes, the plot hits most of the expected notes–the loss of a loved one and the journey to the underworld to get her back, dealing with a ferryman and a three-headed dog and an authority figure whom the protagonist must convince to give up the spirit of the dead loved one–but underneath the mythological trappings is a real, raw, meticulously-observed portrait of grief that keeps the game feeling grounded even when the narrative is at its most fantastical. The underworld in this case takes the form of the mental hospital in which the deceased loved one, Celine, seems to have spent the end of her life, and as the protagonist journeys through it in search of her, memories of her arise. The underworld-hospital is full of small details which build up a very human portrait of both the protagonist and Celine–but which also create a general sense of helplessness. The protagonist plays Celine’s favorite card game with her, buys her a radio and a houseplant for her room, promises to rewatch a forgotten television show with her; Celine gamely goes along with all this, but it’s clear to the protagonist and the player alike that her heart’s not in it, that none of this is really helping at all. These scenes do an excellent job of getting the player on board with the protagonist’s drive to save Celine. The sympathy for the protagonist and Celine and the desire to do something to make things better for Celine draw the player on even though we all know what’s coming.

Or do we? The game has four endings, each of which provides a different conclusion to the emotional arc of the story, and here is where the game begins to subvert the player’s expectations. If you follow the myth to the letter, playing the lyre at every opportunity and turning around as soon as the game suggests that Celine might not in fact be following you, you’re likely to get the accurately-named Failure ending, the least satisfying of the four. In this ending, the protagonist simply gives up and goes home, having failed to confront their feelings or come to terms with anything–the whole journey has been utterly pointless. The stated reason for these actions leading to this ending is that playing the lyre signifies seeking an easy, “magical” solution to real problems that can’t be fixed that way, but in a way it may also reflect the player’s refusal to engage with this specific iteration of the story, going through the mythological motions without really thinking about what it all means for these particular characters.

What if you play the lyre and then don’t turn around? Well, then you’ve really lost touch with reality: this earns you the slightly puzzling Fable ending, in which the protagonist seems to lose the ability to distinguish between their own life and the Orpheus myth altogether and descend into delusion out of unwillingness to deal with the fact of Celine’s death. This ending is at least somewhat more interesting than Failure, but it’s not terribly hopeful. The player is still relying on their knowledge of the myth here, although they are at least trying to change its outcome.

More satisfying are the Flowers and Friendship endings, which show the protagonist remembering the good times with Celine but accepting that she really is gone and beginning to think about moving on, possibly through renewing connections with their still-living friends. These endings require the player to find alternate solutions to dealing with the underworld’s various obstacles, using everyday objects from the protagonist’s house rather than a magical lyre that appears out of nowhere and may not be real. The idea, according to the writer, was to reward the player for finding more practical, real-world solutions to problems, though unfortunately this does not work out quite as well as might be hoped: the alternate solutions are still very adventure-gamey. It’s a different kind of unrealistic, but it’s unrealistic nonetheless. That said, this still rewards the player for engaging with the specifics of this story rather than following a pattern they think they already know. Even if the execution isn’t perfect, the decision to have breaking from the established story lead to more interesting and satisfying results than following it is an interesting one which makes the story aspect of the game more compelling.

All in all, despite a few missteps, Eurydice is a very solid take on the Orpheus & Eurydice myth, with a deft personal touch and some interesting ideas behind its multiple endings. It is well worth playing, and certainly deserves the recognition it has gotten as one of the stand-out games of the past year.

- Robb Sherwin (Colorado), June 21, 2013

- Ann R. J., June 10, 2013

- DJ (Olalla, Washington), May 9, 2013

- Edward Lacey (Oxford, England), April 16, 2013

- Stier, March 27, 2013

- drumsfellow, January 13, 2013

- LaFey (Porto, Portugal), January 3, 2013

- zylla, December 17, 2012

- semotus, November 21, 2012

- Nusco (Bologna, Italy), November 20, 2012


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