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Full Version, Release 4 *
Contains BlueLacuna-r4.gblorb
For all systems. To play, you'll need a glulx interpreter - visit Brass Lantern for download links.
Spring Thing Release *
Contains bl-preview-1.gblorb
Incomplete "Sneak Preview" version.
For all systems. To play, you'll need a glulx interpreter - visit Brass Lantern for download links.
* Compressed with ZIP. Free Unzip tools are available for most systems at www.info-zip.org.

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Blue Lacuna

by Aaron A. Reed profile

Science Fiction

Web Site

(based on 90 ratings)
8 member reviews

About the Story

You have always been different.

One in a trillion have your gift, your curse: to move between worlds,
never settling, always alone. To Wayfare. Yet there are others like
you, and something stronger than coincidence binds you together, bumps
your lives against each other like charged particles.

Now you feel the Call again, and know another of your kind is in need.
But when you arrive there are no answers. Just an old man with fraying
sanity and secrets buried deep. A tropical paradise more alive than it
seems. And a conflict left unresolved that could change the course of
two civilizations forever.

There are no easy choices, wayfarer. Your decisions will shape the
fate of many things. Three worlds. Two lives. And what your own story
will become.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: April 3, 2008
Current Version: 4
License: Free
Development System: Inform 7
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
IFID: 3C25ABF2-C0EA-4388-A69D-B38B87577B13
TUID: ez2mcyx4zi98qlkh


Winner, Best Game; Winner, Best Story; Winner, Best Setting; Nominee, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual NPC; Winner, Best Use of Medium - 2009 XYZZY Awards

6th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of all time (2011 edition)

11th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of all time (2015 edition)

3rd Place - Spring Thing 2008

Editorial Reviews


Those looking for a more visual novel will most likely find Blue Lacuna a little too text-heavy, but anyone willing to look past the simplistic interface will easily be able to lose themselves in the twisting, memorable story. The good news is that you'll know instantly whether this is going to be a journey made for you.
See the full review


Lacuna is not a stoic environment. Tsunamis and storms strike the island. The pale moon of the night turns into the blistering sun of day. All of these things can affect the locations on the island, changing what you can do or see there. They aren’t completely random, either. What actions you take influence what is introduced into the story and when. Around the time you start to feel like there’s nowhere else to explore, a character will arrive with something to tell you, or you’ll stumble across a clue for the puzzle you’ve been working on, or a woodland creature will inadvertently reveal a new path. All of this is done as subtlety as possible, so that it never feels like a solution was thrust upon you, but that you were simply in the right place at the right time.
See the full review

Risks and Experiments
Blue Lacuna doesn't make it to the horizon as an artistic work, and I don't even think it's entirely successful just as a game (it's a little short on beta-testing, and the puzzles are a mixed bag), but it's important in a way most recent games aren't: if you're interested in IF as a genre, you should play Blue Lacuna, and there's nothing I'd rather say about a game than that.
See the full review

Jay is Games
Emergent or branching narratives have been seen as a red herring in game development for a while. [...] This is really where Reed excels. After the prologue, you find yourself on a nearly-abandoned island. Your only companion is a mad hermit, a man who talks in broken sentences and shouts at the ocean. Throughout the game, your interactions with him (or even actions in his presence) shape his opinion of you, his relationship with you, and how the eventual ending plays out. Depending on your actions and conversation with this man, the game could play in vastly different ways.
See the full review

Play This Thing!
The result is that it feels gratifyingly spacious, as less ambitious IF cannot, and there is room for emotional effects to build gradually.
See the full review

Universally in Blue Lacuna, the portrait of humanity and interpersonal relationships is a bleak and twisted one. People are selfish and dishonest, closed to communication, inconsistent and typically blind to their own pathology; in short, pure sociological wreckage, and it isn't clear whether this was done on purpose.

When you play Blue Lacuna, which in general I think one should, the key is to simply enjoy the scenery.
See the full review

IndieCade 2010 Wrap Up
There's no better way to describe this game than by calling it a beautifully written interactive novel. If the creators of Zork or Witness had a copy of Blue Lacuna travel back in time and appear on their computers, they would have wept openly.
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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 8
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful:
Lacuna, a Blind Man's Textual Paradice, June 1, 2011
by Zack Kline (Corvallis, Oregon)
I'll get the verdict out of the way first: Blue Lacuna is a wonderful, evocative piece of work, and you should go play it right now. I know I have to justify that statement, so here goes…

Interactive fiction games are wonderful for blind computer users, as they allow us to experience settings and scenes we might not otherwise, perhaps more so than for the sighted people in this world. That was a large attraction of Lacuna for me, the richness and vibrancy of its island setting are unparalleled in the annals of interactive fiction. Other games may have similar esthetics or similar talent for description, but none I know of simulate day and night and tide with such loving detail. The world and how the player perceives it changes radically with each passing hour, and it was a joy just to wander around the island, soaking in the ambiance of a place too beautiful to be real as it changed over the course of my playthrough. I was beyond pleased to look up at the night sky and notice that the moon was implemented, and that it had phases which changed from day to day, as irrelevant as that might be to the actual plot.

What, I'm two paragraphs in and just starting to talk about plot? Yes, the game has a plot, and it is a big, sprawling thing just like the setting I raved about so much. Sprawl here is used in a loving sense--the length is not too long in my opinion, though I may quibble, just a bit, about the pacing here and there. Being IF, naturally there's potential for choice, and while the broad strokes of the plot remain the same throughout every game, there is much potential for interpretation and outright variation. A lot of that last comes from interaction with the single main NPC, who deserves a place all his own.

The single main NPC--you'll know him when you see him--is very well done. He has his own backstory which is central to the overarching narrative, and does his own thing in a manor to make you forget for a moment that he's a mass of programmed instructions. Conversation is topic-based, and sensitive to the mood of the characters--there's some Galatea-esque tracking going on in there, certainly. All told, he's a wonderful companion throughout, or was in my playthrough.

Bugs? I feel ashamed to mention them, but there were a couple minor ones. Most significantly, the NPC will occasionally go invisible--you can still talk to him, but finding him is difficult when he doesn't appear in room descriptions. I've reported this one to the author, and hopefully a fix is forthcoming. Tiny typos were perhaps a bit more noticeable thanks to my screen reader, but none jarring, and honestly they pale in comparison to the constant mispronunciation of a character's name, but that's my reader's fault and probably fixable on my end, anyway.

So, once again, play this game. Explore its setting, indulge in the plot at your own pace and according to your own whims, be swept away by the many good qualities here and enjoy a modern masterpiece of IF. I can say no more.

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful:
Truly Interactive Fiction, July 14, 2010
by Rose (New Zealand)
The words 'interactive fiction' imply a story you can truly influence - that you're part of the process of telling the story. Unfortunately, few titles actually accomplish this. Even when the game contains multiple paths, you're still essentially playing through a detailed puzzle box. Blue Lacuna is an outstanding piece due to its true interactivity.

You, as the PC, have the ability to Wayfare - to travel between worlds and places by creating art. When called by another of your kind, you rush to the rescue - only to find yourself on a near-deserted island with a crazy old man and some very creepy trees. Who called you here? And what do they want with you?

This game goes far beyond multiple paths: you genuinely do shape the story. The characterisation of the PC is entirely up to you and you're able to act in almost any way you feel fits. In turn, your actions shape the environment, the outcomes of the story, and the attitudes of the one main NPC in ways that frankly boggle the mind. Progue is an incredible NPC; your behaviour towards him influences his towards you, as well as what encounters you will have. He can be your mortal enemy, love interest, or anything in between. No two playthroughs will be the same. Sadly, the game is so huge and time-consuming that it's difficult to live up to the near-unlimited replay potential.

The setting - the island of Lacuna - is a character in itself. Complete with succinct but vivid descriptions, day-night and weather cycles, random environmental events and an expansive but intuitive map, it's the most detailed setting I've ever seen in a work of IF. Even on third and fourth playthroughs, I'm still discovering new treasures hidden away. Exploring Lacuna even without a plot to drive you would be well worth the effort. Speaking of the plot, it's one of the few things that don't replay so well. The main events of the plot (particularly the (Spoiler - click to show)dream sequences) are less adaptable than the rest of the game, so even the most haunting parts grow dry and familiar after you've read them once or twice.

Aside from the story itself, Blue Lacuna breaks ground in other ways. You may select between story and puzzle modes; this adds to the re-playability, and means the game will appeal to both fans of narrative (like me) and those who like a challenge. I loved this touch and wish more games would offer it. While not exactly a new idea, the (optional) compass-free movement commands heightened the realism and made it feel like you really were exploring the environment instead of a game map. (Spoiler - click to show)The backstage commands were a brilliant touch; they made it way easier to find new endings and to otherwise mess around with the game environment, which is always fun.

Unfortunately, with great interactivity comes great complexity, and with great complexity comes great bugginess. (Is that a word?) On my first playthrough, an essential plot event (the (Spoiler - click to show)tsunami, if you're wondering) never triggered and the game was rendered unwinnable. Though nothing that bad ever happened again, the interpreter kept crashing during one of the conversations and there were way too many bugs and minor inconsistencies to count. I understand that the huge scope of the game makes it impossible to debug completely, but I had so many issues dodging bugs it's enough to lower the game one star in my estimation.

Blue Lacuna is a groundbreaking game that is likely to take an important place in the history of IF. If you enjoy immersive games that reward persistence and patience, then I would definitely recommend giving it a play.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Underwhelmed, April 23, 2013
by Andromache (Hawaii)
Based on prior reviews, I was uncertain whether or not to try this game. I got the impression I would like some aspects and dislike others, and I have to conclude that I was correct. But in the end, taken together, it's not really a satisfying ride. Smooth enough to keep me playing to the end, but I found a couple rather glaring bugs which made the game pretty much unwinnable if you didn't have a restore before that section. One of them actually printed a weird error message that should have been caught in beta testing. Travel by landmark was a nice touch, but conversation was sometimes clunky, giving odd responses or errors that a character was unavailable when you're standing in the same location.

I will say that the setting was remarkably rendered. It was neat to play a game where weather and time of day actually matter, and though the interface took some getting used to, I found it convenient and well-implemented for the most part. The vividly imagined environments were described clearly, but not overdone. Specific but not verbose or dull to read.

However, as great as the setting was, the characters and themes were wishy-washy, inconsistent, and frustrating. It was like the author couldn't decide who anyone was. While I understand about the importance of imperfection in crafting compelling characters, this was more like behaving based on whatever feels right at the time. And that's just not enjoyable. (Spoiler - click to show)For example, Rume chastises the player character for painting, for following her own nature, but it's not her fault. If the player tries to have her wake him to explain properly, there's a message that Rume's asleep and you'll say goodbye later. Okay then. So you paint and then Rume just assumes you weren't going to say goodbye at all. And let's say his impassioned plea for you to give up who you are for him is granted. Well, twenty years later, after your daughter abandons you to pursue her own life in anger and impatience, the player character is in turn abandoned by Rume, who says he must follow his own nature. And he doesn't say goodbye. No. He's gone and leaves a letter. Hypocrite much? And the same goes for Progue. Sometimes, he's submissive and deferential and sometimes surly. At the end of the game, it's even more jarring because the game tells you his attitude is submissive but he's willing to attack the player on his own initiative. He also scolds the player for not helping him when earlier, he said he hadn't Called her, and then uses the fact she didn't help him when he needed her as some twisted justification for why he deserves to get his way. It's flat-out emotional blackmail. It's true that people don't always act predictably, but
actions and words really should match up better. If you say a character feels a certain way toward you, that should be borne out consistently unless something dramatic changes the mood. And I don't just mean disagreement. That's not enough. It was like the characters had to do things to make the plot go a certain way, so weird contrivances without proper explanation or foreshadowing had to be used. If the player cannot tell the character they're controlling to do something, it is unfair and annoying to then blame the player for not doing it.

(Spoiler - click to show)And then there's the weird dichotomy between art and love, which I don't think are mutually exclusive. Love or hate, art or science, friend or foe. These make sense. But it's very possible to be capable of both love and art, and if anything, I think they enhance each other.

The endings, too, didn't work for me. I think they might have worked better if I could actually respect and like anyone, but as it was, everyone was selfish and manipulative, to a greater or lesser degree. They either ran away from their problems, blamed the player character for not doing as they wanted, or abandoned the player character when they no longer needed her.

"Lacuna" is worth playing at least once, for the game world and innovative interface. But don't go in expecting to connect with anyone or to have your horizons expanded. And definitely don't go in thinking you can change the story. You can move through it at your own pace and with your own play style, but you really can't influence how events play out unless you play as a manipulative, dysfunctional person.

See All 8 Member Reviews

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Recommended Lists

Blue Lacuna appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Commercial Shouldabeens by GameDesigner
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Recommendations for play-aloud IF for a roadtrip.

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See all lists mentioning this game


The following polls include votes for Blue Lacuna:

Long-Form Games That Don't Require Mapping by Steven Watson
Playing Losing Your Grip has reminded me of just how tedious I find manual mapping in lengthy games, no matter how much I enjoy everything else. So, I'm looking for some long, engrossing games that don't require the player to draw maps....

Games for Beginners by WriterBob
I'm looking for games that are suited for adults who are new to IF. My purpose is to share these games with friends and let them get experience IF without being frustrated by mazes or guess-the-verb issues. Please avoid children's games....

Games with Difficult Puzzles and a Forgiveness Rating of Tough or Lower by Athe
While searching for games that were difficult, I found many games that had a very unforgiving forgiveness rating, which I don't find very appealing. I do like puzzles, however, so I would be interested in finding games with challenging...

See all polls with votes for this game


This is version 13 of this page, edited by MathBrush on 8 February 2017 at 3:38pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item