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About the StoryIn this sci-fi/fantasy game you are Nick Wayne, a recent college graduate with one of those degrees that does not lead to a job. While flipping burgers to pay the rent, you manage to get a new, high-paying job for a mysterious employer who assigns you to work on a secret project. Lured by the prospect of high pay, but knowing nothing about the project, you begin your first day on the job full of excitement and anticipation.
6th Place - Spring Thing 2014
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Number of Reviews: 2
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The environment is very interactive and the NPC's are decent. The conversation system is very nice and certainly beats the old "talk to [x] about [y]" or "ask [x] about [y]" guess-the-word system. Some of the puzzles are interesting -- I particularly enjoyed (Spoiler - click to show)the one that opens the portal -- and the storyline is easy to follow. I only got stuck in one place trying to guess the proper sequence of words, but I was able to find a way around it, so I wasn't stuck for long. There's a lot of exposition, but the vast majority of it is optional. The map is fairly linear and doesn't require too much backtracking.
The ending is satisfactory and fitting, though not quite how I personally would've wrapped it up. It's short enough to play in a single sitting but long enough to be interesting. Re-playability (if that's even a word) isn't extremely high -- after I went through it once, there were a couple of things I wanted to go back and play with some more, but after I did that, I wasn't in a hurry to play it a third time. (Of course, some games barely warrant a second play-through.)
All in all, a good game -- one I would certainly recommend to others.
The majority of puzzles involve combining magical spells to produce an item that is useful in an exchange. This magic system is interesting in that it is based on ethical values of balance and equality. These values fit quite well with a maxim of traditional adventure games: each item unlocks something new; each cost has a payoff.
However, some puzzles showcase these values better than others. Apart from one or two puzzles, I never really felt that the exchanges held any emotional cost or benefit for the characters, or ecological cost or benefit to the world. (The puzzle in which you (Spoiler - click to show)repay Axia by catching a crab is one of the best. Most other exchanges simply seemed to involve random items, despite being cleverly structured puzzles.)
That said, relationships between characters are well-developed when considered independently from the puzzles. Each character is part of a complex society of magical creatures that is smartly based on ecological values. The society is sublimely beautiful but not blandly utopian. There are tiny tastes of tragedy within a kind-hearted world; the predator-prey relationships demonstrate this brilliantly.
My only other criticism: the writing needs to be trimmed in some places. There's an introductory scene in a helicopter with quite a lot of plot exposition. A little exposition is okay, but I didn't appreciate the stuffed file folders that were thrust at me. I would additionally suggest that the author edit and condense the magic list and magic book into one item.
Fortunately, those few floods of information are mitigated by a good conversation system, and most of the plot is distributed fairly evenly throughout the game.
All in all, fun IF with a happy ending.
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