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Delightful Wallpaper

by Andrew Plotkin ('Edgar O. Weyrd') profile


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Number of Ratings: 69
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- erzulie, September 24, 2019

- elias67, March 21, 2019

- mapped, February 21, 2019

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Two games in one: solve a logical puzzlefest and write a story, December 5, 2018
What new can one say about a game that's been reviewed ten times already? Not much, perhaps, but Delightful Wallpaper is such a delight that perhaps reviewing it will bring it to other folks' attentions.

The most important thing to know about Delightful Wallpaper is that it is two games in one. The first game is basically a shorter version of Inside the Facility. (Well, Delightful Wallpaper predates Inside the Facility by ten years, so perhaps it's more accurate to say that Inside the Facility is a longer version of the first half of Delightful Wallpaper.) The puzzles all revolve around movement: Visiting certain locations or traversing certain passages triggers various doors to open or close in the mansion. You must learn and keep track of these in order to figure out how to reach all of the rooms. It's a logical puzzlefest of the kind I particularly enjoy.

You're assisted greatly by the fact that the game keeps "notes" for you that you can review. If something interesting happens when you visit a room or traverse a passage, the game records it in your list of notes, perhaps along with a question mark. When you discover what that particular action did, the game updates that entry in the notes. It makes the puzzles much easier than they would be otherwise: You don't have to worry about having missed something important in the text. It also means that the game records some solutions in your notes before you've completely figured out what's happening. I have a mixed opinion on the notes: I think they make what would likely be a fiendishly difficult game into something much more reasonable, but they also tilt the game a little too far to the easy side for my taste. However, I appreciate the challenge the author faces here, and I also can't think of a better solution for hitting the difficulty level "sweet spot" than the one the author has chosen.

The second game is very different. You have to collect "intentions" (these are sort of like motivations or actions different characters can take) and place them around the mansion. You're essentially creating a narrative for the characters. You don't have complete control of the narrative, though: There's a definite end state for each of the characters, and there are plenty of restrictions on which intentions you can place where. All in all, the second half of Delightful Wallpaper plays like a story that you're writing. It's interactive, in the sense that there are choices that you make for the characters, but you're not actually one of the characters. Instead, you're more like an author, deciding what each character does. While I think different interpretations are possible here, I felt like I was (Spoiler - click to show)Agatha Christie writing a sequel to And Then There Were None.

If I could have one wish about the second half, it would be to include a puzzle where you must put the intentions in a particular logical order in order to make the narrative work. In retrospect, the set of intention placements that I came up with did result in a narrative that made logical sense, but I would have liked to have seen the intentions constructed such that this was a bit harder to do.

So, what we have here are two games in one. And the games are very different. They're like two classic IF archetypes: the logical puzzlefest to be solved and the interactive story to be written. I suppose you could also say that in Delightful Wallpaper the opposing sides of Graham Nelson's "narrative at war with a crossword" description of IF have declared a cease-fire, with each side agreeing to take half of the game.

All in all, a delight to play.

- C. W. Gray , February 18, 2018

- Guenni (At home), January 25, 2018

- jamesb (Lexington, Kentucky), July 26, 2017

- Cory Roush (Ohio), July 19, 2017

- Xavid, December 6, 2016

- mstahl, August 19, 2016

- NinaS, July 3, 2016

First part is like a Rubik's cube; second part like a creative writing workshop, February 3, 2016

by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
The first part of the game is a completely technical puzzle. No moves can hurt you, and there are no characters or items. As a mathematician, I found this part of the game deeply enjoyable. Like a Rubik's cube, I realized that each element can be manipulated by a little "dance". These are the important "dances":

(Spoiler - click to show)Going n, e, s, w from the kitchen lowers the floor.

Going e, n, w, s, w from the kitchen raises the floor.

Going in a similar circle around the dining room changes the direction of the bridge. If the foyer is closed, go up twice through the kitchen first.

To go down or up, do a kitchen dance and approach the moving floor from w or e, respectively.

As for the second part, the idea was fun, and the implementation was fun, but the subject matter was not my cup of tea. I found it fun to explore everything, but used a walkthrough once I tried every item.

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Delightful IF, January 22, 2016
by namekuseijin (anywhere but home)
This is a thoroughly delightful IF that is at times charming, amusing, funny and horrific, all the while being quite a straightforward, polite and extremely polished game. I started playing it last weekend and finally finished it. I don't know how I've missed it all these years!

In fact, I do. When it first came out of IFComp 2006, by some guy named Edgar O. Weyrd, I wasn't too keen on the title or the unknown author. Then, I played for a very short while and wasn't too hot on the narrator's voice and quite clueless as to the purpose of the game. It seemed you could do nothing but wander around and have a few notes written in your notebook. So, I dropped it.

Now, the very first thing I did this time around, besides learning it to be by Plotkin, was to take a careful look at that subtitle right there: A Cozy Mansion Mystery in the Making. I did not notice it my first time around and it makes things a lot clearer.

Here's how this bright IF opens up:

Grey gravel crunches in the drive. Grey windows retreat behind wrought-iron balcony rails. Grey skies press down over the looming, shadowy edifice.

You /do/ enjoy your job, but the decor can become a /bit much/ sometimes. You shall hope that the inside of this mansion proves to be cheerier.

Let me tell you right away: the narrator as pictured above is one of the most effective I've ever seen in parser IF. It's voice will stick in your head. It's able to convey your surroundings with the same ease as it strongly characterizes the PC all along, besides bringing your attention to the important points in the narrative. Yet, when I first played, somehow I was under the wrong impression that it was about some home decor designer abated by the bad weather and bad conditions of the old house. :D I don't know if it was intentional, but it can be interpreted that way at first. This time around, I took a more thourough view of my surroundings and the protagonist and got a far grimmer picture of what was really happening.

Then, as I wander around the house, taking notes on this and that and commenting upon the decor, some unexplainable things begin to happen. Doors open and close, parts of the house spin, the floor comes to life and even some portcullis appears out of nowhere. Spooky, huh? It really is a cozy mansion mistery story after all, but with one hell of a twist.

The game is divided in two parts: exploration of the mansion and the "solving" the cozy mistery proper.

The mansion is in itself a puzzle: initially, only a few rooms are open and many doors closed so your puzzle away how to open them. The fact that the protagonist seems unable or unwilling to touch on things, you'll learn other ways to open the doors. This is done by simply going around, trying different paths. Passing under some kinds of archways or doorways will produce different effects on how the house "sees" itself. Understanding how to open the different regions of the house is the puzzle and it is highly engrossing and fun.

So, besides being a traditional cozy mistery story, it's also a traditional explorative text-adventure with puzzle-solving and a few treasures to hunt after. But it doesn't feel that way, it takes those genres and bends and distorts them until something very unique came up. While there is the exploration of a map, the map is not huge, it's not overly difficult walking around it. The difficult bit is observing the effects your paths produce. But, ultimately, even an unobservant player should eventually unlock all regions by simply traversing all possible paths. Sounds boring, so, yes, be observant and read all the notes. After you explore all the map, all doors are open and the protagonist finds the "treasure", which fits just nicely in the inventory and also makes it even more clear the nature of the protagonist.

Then comes the second part, when the "guests" arrive at the mansion. If you haven't figured out the identity of the protagonist so far, the way the narrator projects the doings of the many NPCs to the future should make it clear that the protagonist sees all their actions from out of time. Your task it to figure out their intentions and connect each one to the wheres and whens around the mansion. This last part plays sort of like Clue, but in an immensely more narrative-focused and fun way. The notes in particular are striking, resembling versing couplets from Edward Gorey, I guess.

After that, your job here is done.

So, this was my review of a very enjoyable piece of parser IF that is traditional and novel at the same time and engaging and puzzling without being overly difficult nor terribly long. It's just the right size. It's also polite in the cruelty scale and you can't get stuck or be put in an unwinnable state. Give it a spin and you won't be sorry.

Now that that is over, my spoilery opinions, be warned.

(Spoiler - click to show)
You are the grimm reaper. Yeah, he does seem to have an eye for decor like one woldn't normally associate with him, but given he's so restless going around reaping the souls of mortals, one can't blame him for having some hobby, even if mildly appreciating the decor in the places he visits. It may be an old stone and pipes mansion, but at least the wallpaper is bearable enough.

His nature explains why the houses reacts to his presence: he's a supernatural being, a kind of a ghost bound to earth under perpetual grey skies, a poltergeist disturbing doors.

It also explains why he sees a portcullis in the middle of the foyer or the actors in the future or in all rooms: he sees all of it out of time, all at once - how it was in the past, how it is today. That's also why intentions look like a frozen explosion.

It seems the dual nature of the game got mixed reviews: some liked only the first part, others hated it but enjoyed the latter part. I enjoyed it throughout. I can't see how some likened the first part to a maze. Really? It's just walking around rooms, not even that many. Could it that the mention of the novel Maze in the About page did it for them? By the way, while certainly influenced by some of those, this is really one of a kind. Is it right that Plotkin came up with a fairly novel anagram for Edward Gorey? never heard of him, guess he had less exposure than Dr. Seuss.

I can see that people might get shocked and disturbed at scenes such as this:

Little girl with silver bell / Lost it down the garden well
Little girl she followed after / Trailing silver bubbling laughter

But the reaper is no murderer. He merely sees intentions and collect their souls after they themselves take their foolish steps towards their departure.

I though the finale to be in the same tone as the rest of the work:

Which brings this assignment to a timely, if somewhat exhausting, close. No rest for the messenger, of course. The next pack of cards is already being shuffled, and their road has yet to be paved.

not exhausting at all, very fun, very worthwhile. Yeah, I can see how achieving this level of polish might be exhausting for the game designer, but quite the banquet to guests of the house... delightful

- branewurms, January 15, 2016

- Snave, January 12, 2016

- fallen-avengers, June 5, 2015

- Herah, April 9, 2015

- Christina Nordlander, March 13, 2015

- Thrax, March 11, 2015

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
The first half is absolutely despicable. , January 2, 2015
by Chai Hai (Kansas City KS)
I really enjoyed the second half of this game, but I must detract points for an unsolvable first half.

It was a maze of hideous design in my opinion, having to walk through the rooms just right or else you're screwed. I gave up and had to follow the walkthrough. Even then I was screwed.

One would think that if one has given up, all one needs to do is find the entrance point and then follow the walk through. NOPE.

You have to enter the rooms in some precise manner, and I had to completely restart the game so I could get the maze mechanics correct.I like exploring my surroundings, but when exploring becomes detrimental to a complex puzzle, you're doing it wrong.

Also, I found the game incredibly dull and boring at the beginning. You just wander through rooms, without realizing you're in some complex maze puzzle, and you can't pick up anything. To me, half the fun of CYOA games is the objects and what you do with them. Being told I can't do squat irritates me.

Not being able to open doors was infuriating as well. Ok, I must be a ghost. if so, then why can't I just bypass all the doors? Ok, I can't do that, so why are there unopenable doors? How the heck am I supposed to continue the game? What is the point of this game then? GBNGVERGER

I then decided to check the games home page to see what all the fuss was about. Reading reviews it seemed there was a second part that sounded fun. It was. I enjoyed the riddles and seeing the events unfold and deciphering motives, but sadly my frustration with the first part soured my fun with the second half.

- VarunG (Mumbai, India), November 15, 2014

- Janice M. Eisen (Portland, Oregon), November 12, 2014

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
What is it about mansion murder mysteries?, November 9, 2014
by CMG (NYC)
When you do a mansion murder mystery wrong, it's just another cliche. But when you do one right, you see why mansion murder mysteries are a thing in the first place. The medley of characters, the capacity for both realism and theatricality, the layered motivations, the rooms upon rooms each opening into more scenarios, expansive and yet bounded like a prison, and the wonder and horror and greed and lust and ego that naturally bubble up from the mixture.

And death. There's always death.

This game is two games in one. The first game is about the mansion itself. The second game is about the characters who inhabit it. In both games, you're initially presented with various obscure elements, but as you play along they click together to reveal totally logical underpinnings.

The mansion is mechanized. Its doors open and close, its floors raise and lower, and its tower bridge turns depending on which rooms you've entered in which order. It's not exactly a maze. You can't get lost. Rather, you have to explore your environment until you understand the principles behind its clockwork. After you've unlocked the mansion, then the second game begins.

The cast has arrived, suspended in tableaux in every room, stuck in time (which does not exist here in the usual sense). Now you aren't exploring the rooms but the characters by reading and rearranging their "intentions," which can be taken and moved like physical objects through the mansion. The intentions interact differently with different characters in different rooms. As you piece together who is really doing what to whom, and why, you're rewarded with humorous and grisly couplets describing each death that takes place. The couplets will rewrite themselves depending on how you organize everyone's motivations. It's a murder mystery in reverse, where the player doesn't solve whodunnit, but actually lays the psychological groundwork for "it" to be done.

My only disappointments with this game were that there was not a bedroom (what missed potential) and that one tower is ultimately irrelevant to both the puzzles and the story. It also would've been nice if the mansion had a plot-related purpose behind its mechanization.

It's true that the game is disjointed due to its distinctive halves, but each half is entertaining and I wouldn't sacrifice either. Although I do think the second half is where it really shines. The whole thing is a little like an interactive Edward Gorey book, which also makes "Delightful Wallpaper" about the best title I could imagine for it.

tough with a good story, November 2, 2014
The first part was dizzying. I almost gave up! After reading some other reviews, I finally settled on finding some help to get through it. The second part was much easier and ultimately made the game worthwhile. Check it out!

- Joshua Houk, October 18, 2014

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