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The Chinese Room

by Harry Giles and Joey Jones profile

Surreal
2007

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Number of Reviews: 3
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A large game about philosophical conundrums and philosophers, February 3, 2016
This longish game has a pretty big map, after a bottlenecking first room. You explore a world where philosophical thought experiments are given life (Plato's cave, Zeno's paradox, etc.) Philosophers are also there: Marx, Plato, Rand, and others.

The game was generally fun, but before I get to the good, I had three bones to pick:

1. The game insults those who look for a walkthrough. To me, this implies that the authors strongly believe that their game is coded well enough that someone who knows the solution to a puzzle will be able to type in the correct answer without a problem. This brings me to the second point:

2. The implementation is spotty; you must (Spoiler - click to show)LIGHT LANTERN WITH LIGHTER, not LIGHT LANTERN, and this is typical of several other parts of the game. When poor implementation abounds, it is frequently necessary to seek help.

3. The game has a condescending tone. The player is an educated atheistic male. The game has some issues with 'male gaze' (although see the comment below by Sobol), includes female philosophers but has little interaction with them, and has the same tone towards religion as reddit's atheism board: "Aren't we so glad that we are superior to those silly peasants with their moral fables?" In fact, the game bashes on religion as much as it can.

I normally don't point out flaws in the works I play, but I can't stand this much smugness.

Outside of that, the game itself is enjoyable, and the puzzles are fun. Quite a few of the puzzles depend on examining things twice (once to see something interesting, then again to see what you need). The in-game help system was well-done, and the images and writing were imaginative.

Recommended for puzzle fiends and those interested in philosophy.

Comments on this review

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Sobol, December 13, 2015 - Reply
Wikipedia says, "The male gaze occurs when the camera puts the audience into the perspective of a heterosexual man."
And I definetely sensed some chemistry between the PC and Achilles.
MathBrush, December 13, 2015 - Reply
I was thinking more about the part where the PC stares down the barista's shirt, but I see your point.
Sobol, December 13, 2015 - Reply
As far as I understand, the PC is gender-neutral. And the authors deliberately added some "fan service" with one male and one female character to cater for a wide taste.

But, to my own taste, Achilles was much more... fanservicy. The scenes with the barista are basically just talking with a charming friendly barista. Participating in a naked physical contest with a kind athletic guy - who blushes when you talk to him - and then carries you on his shoulder - and then "puts an amphora of wine to your lips" - well, that's something straight from an erotic dream.

I also liked the scene with "your mother" - a kind of moment that shows the strength of interactive fiction. You can't insert the player's mother in a graphic game.
MathBrush, December 13, 2015 - Reply
Your explanations are totally correct, and made me chuckle. I've revised my review to point to your comments. Thanks for the analysis, it made me appreciate the game more.
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