Cacophony by Owen Parish

The sand stretches around you in all directions.

There is a grassy countryside. Rocks are scattered about.

You are in a room. The room has walls and a ceiling.

You blink. It seems as though you've been standing here forever. You feel suddenly stressed; There is something you have to do.
Information in this game listing is copyright AmberShards, Juhana, is taken from IFDB, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
01 Nov 2015
This story is outstanding. Note that I said "story", not "game." As a work of fiction, it is interesting, intriguing, and surreal. As a work of interactive fiction, it is cryptic, frustrating, and hard to understand. The difficulty level in this game is through the roof. There are things you can only find by doing specific commands, and there are sequences that can only be triggered by the most perplexing means imaginable. Sure, a lot of it is ingenious, such as the notebook puzzle, the picture puzzle, and the use of the suitcase and workbag to transport objects from world to world. Then there are things that just drive players up the wall, such as the three men who accompany you in the dream world. By analyzing their personalities, one could determine what objects and commands must be used. Mr Green is the most reserved, followed by Blue, who is the most intellectual. Mr Red exists in stark contrast to the other two, as an impulsive entity. Naturally, I found myself interacting with Mr Red the most, asking him about things, giving him objects, and generally trying to get some reaction out of him. Ironically enough, Mr Blue, who I originally assumed was the least important man, actually turned out to be the most helpful. In some respects, the game was a bit disappointing. I don't know if there are areas that cannot be accessed by any means, or if they're meant to stay undiscovered, but I really wanted to see what was at the end of the hallway to the south and up the stairs to the north in the apartment realm. This was furthered by the phrase "You can't go up there. Ever." That's some serious foreshadowing. Maybe there was something I didn't try, or an event that I didn't trigger, but as far as I cared to venture, there's no way to get to these areas. Speaking of which, the areas in the game are quite nice. It's satisfying to see a text game that gives the player a sense of vastness, and this game really did it. Despite this, players are more likely to wander around in the same two worlds, trying to find out if they missed something. Overall, I loved the writing. I'm a huge fan of the surreal genre, and the picture element gave me fond memories of the 1996 game Obsidian (especially in regards to the difficulty). I actually kind of hoped for more. Each ending doesn't really give a lot of information to the player about their location, motives, or backstory. Also, breaking the fourth wall is always a hit or miss, and it was a hit with the subtle addition of the notebook. However, the not-so-subtle talk directly from the narrator was a bit too much. I am glad that I found this game; it is an obscure gem. Now, this may seem like an obvious point for a text game, but the writing is the rope that holds it together. I've always been a fan of interactive fiction for one reason: It's a way to write in the second person point of view without sounding odd. A lot of stories I read online try to use the second person POV, and they never get the tone right. Text adventures, on the other hand, are the perfect way to make the reader feel like part of the story. What I truly love about them is that you can create a story that reads like a film, expressing actions through text without making it sound like a monologue. That's what I love to see in text games, and what I'm trying to achieve through mine, a book that makes the reader feel like an observer in a strange, unpredictable world. Great story.

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