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Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best NPCs - 2006 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 3
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Moon-Shaped is a typical puzzle-based interactive fiction, save that it favors fuller prose over fuller geography. Puzzles are of moderate difficulty and clued fairly well, and a menu interface offers progressive hints. A wonderful annotated walkthrough is also available separately, though experienced players will likely not need it. The overall result is a work that favors readers over game players and thoroughness over lateral thinking.
Two things kept me from granting Moon-Shaped a full five stars. One, a compass rose and/or a GO TO command would be greatly appreciated by us beginners who disorient easily. But more importantly, I never really felt close to anyone in the work despite the time I spent with it and the spacious in absentia flashbacks. I felt that each such scene was afraid of giving away too much, and the reticency caused me to rely on my knowledge of fantasy instead of the knowledge of the particulars of the work. Consequently, I saw where the work was headed far too soon.
Regardless these idiosyncratic nitpicks, Moon-Shaped is a good work, and I especially recommend it to those who enjoyed Emily Short's Bronze.
(This review is for release 2 of Moon-Shaped.)
All is really not as it seems, though, and this is no walk in the, well, woods. What I liked about this were the refreshing twists on the story we’re so used to. The idea behind the game was creative enough, and, after playing, still remains ingenious. The story is mostly linear, though it contains several alternative endings, all determined by the endgame.
However, several things detracted from enjoyment of the game. There are alarmingly long stretches of text in the form of ‘visions’, which seems, above all, to be a rather lame attempt to force a lot of backstory into a few actions. This, unfortunately, occurred several times, especially toward the end of the story. Part of the moral of the story feels very heavily laid on in the beginning of the game, to the effect that it sounded very artificial. Yet nothing was said about this moral in the endgame.
The game also felt slightly glitchy at times. Some descriptions did not change even after performing actions which should have changed the object; some actions must be performed at specific locations to be able to progress with the game. The game could have been more robust if it were more flexible for the player, but this is really a small matter.
Don’t get me wrong: Moon-shaped is enjoyable in parts and does have an interesting story, but it was let down by the textwalls of backstory.
Moon-shaped begins as a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, and branches out from there. Puzzles are enjoyable, with a nice flashback system. But the game is somewhat sparse. The world feels empty, with short descriptions.
Perhaps I enjoy this game most because of the great storytelling in the flashbacks. The multiple endings involving big moral choices are also good.
I recommend this game to everyone.
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This is version 6 of this page, edited by Jason Ermer on 22 November 2015 at 6:24pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item