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Galatea

by Emily Short profile

Mythological
2000

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Reviews and Ratings

5 star:
(86)
4 star:
(105)
3 star:
(50)
2 star:
(17)
1 star:
(9)
Average Rating:
Number of Ratings: 267
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- Kommissar Verboten, July 1, 2019

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Fantastic writing, wish I could appreciate it more, June 20, 2019
by comfortcastle (Sheffield, UK)
Galatea is a weird one for me, because I always butt my head against it for reasons that might not even be its fault.

As a story, it's wonderful. Galatea herself is a great character, a little bitter and capricious, entirely defined by her sculptor and fundamentally unable to have a life outside of his memory. It's a fantastic character study.

As a game, I always struggle a lot. You're supposed to pick up on keywords in Galatea's responses to follow conversation threads, but not every word you'd expect to get a response is a keyword, and some keywords are sort of implicit, but it's difficult to get at certain concepts you want to talk to Galatea about. The effect for me is a sort of dialogue maze where I talk round and round in circles until I give up and look at a walkthrough so I can enjoy the writing more.

I think it's interesting that the game knows its own limitations in this respect. In some of the happier endings, the PC seems to have a moment of clarity where they see Galatea as a personality rather than a living statue. This may just be my own interpretation, but I see a parallel here with seeing an NPC as a living conversation rather than a list of topics to run down. I think this is a lovely bit of writing which could merge the player's feelings and the PC's feelings at its best. I wish I didn't keep running into conversation loops so I could experience it. (The effect is compounded if you exhaust a topic early on and your character sneers something like "how can I treat this art as real when it has such a limited encyclopaedia?" I guess this is supposed to anticipate and play with criticisms of the game, but I wish it wouldn't remind me of its own limits when I'm trying to meet it on its own terms.)

This is all unfair, really. Galatea was one of the first works to really explore and improve conversations in IF (in my limited understanding of IF history), and Emily Short has built off this game wonderfully - her later game City of Secrets has the best conversation system I've seen so far. Once I looked up walkthroughs and read the work as a collection of stories rather than a conversation, I liked Galatea a lot more, but I think I've come along too late to appreciate it in its proper context as an influential game.

I'm leaving the game unrated because I don't think I've given it a fair shake. Maybe I just prefer puzzle games?

- Xylah, June 19, 2019

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
No statue has ever been erected to a critic, June 7, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)
Galatea is an impressive piece of coding. Around the turn of the century there were many games that tried to create incredibly in-depth characters that would respond to anything, not to mention Scribblenauts, which tried to allow for a near infinite amount of actions. Of all in this genre I've tried, Galatea is the most successful at being interesting; yet, the shine wears off quickly and I stopped caring quicker than I thought possible.

Short is a superb writer, and her ability to write engaging dialogue with a statue still makes me jealous. The perspective she creates is infinitely interesting and I wanted to find as many conversation topics as possible to just hear more of what Galatea had to say.

Unfortunately, the game quickly turns into an exercise of trying to find as many endings as possible (of which there are 70). While I enjoyed this premise in Aisle, I find it tiresome here as finding various endings requires repeating some dialogue options multiple times while purposefully trying to manipulate Galatea's emotional state. At times it felt gross, and it didn't help that the PC is mostly an unsympathetic snob.

I believe I would have enjoyed this much more if Short had allowed the player to focus more on exploring Galatea's mind without worrying about triggering the next ending. In that case it could have been an extraordinary character study. As it stands it felt too much like I was playing with a gimmicky toy. Still, I would recommend everybody play this, if even for a brief time, just to experience the high concept.

- Spike, May 11, 2019

- Mwe, April 12, 2019

- Steffan LW Sitka (Los Angeles), February 28, 2019

- Princessthe1st (USA), February 6, 2019

- Stian, January 22, 2019

- IanAllenBird, January 17, 2019

- SchnickelFritz (TX), December 26, 2018

- Zach Shifflett (VA, United States), December 11, 2018

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
exceptional, November 27, 2018
by IFthenXYZZY
Related reviews: galatea
Above the vast expanse of interactive fiction, Galatea stands alone.

Emily Short has taken a block of code and crafted her vision of Galatea so perfectly it will reach from the screen and touch you. Unforgetable. Immortal interactive fiction.

The player is asked to abandon the comfort of traditional maps and mazes and enter into the labyrinth of conversation

While standard games reward the player with material trophies, or the pride of (relief of) having solved a puzzle, Short rewards the player with the feeling of human intimacy.

" ...My love is like a storybook story But it's as real as the feelings I feel..." ~ 'Storybook Love,' Mark Knopfler; The Princess Bride

- illuki, November 3, 2018

- ellact2000, August 30, 2018

- doodlelogic, July 29, 2018

- ialessan, July 10, 2018

- lavieenmeow, July 8, 2018

- DustyCypress (Hong Kong), May 19, 2018

- Mutagen, April 4, 2018

- RoboDragonn, February 28, 2018

- fredfredfred, February 9, 2018

- gnarp, January 29, 2018

- LatinAlice (Canada), January 29, 2018

- eme, January 23, 2018


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