Photopia: A Recommendation [Spoiler-Free!]

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text.pngAlright, usually I have no compunctions about spoiling a game when I attempt to dissect, analyze, or even just comment on it. Especially if the game, like Photopia, is ten years old. But this situation is different, because I know there are people out there who don't get as much vitamin IF as they should, and because the game in question is so overwhelmingly about narrative experience that spoilers would ruin it completely. That said, Adam Cadre's Photopia does touch on a number of themes that I'd like to talk about in greater depth. Which makes for a dilemma.

So here's what I'm going to do: today, I'm going to recommend that you go play Photopia. If that's not enough to make you actually do it, then let me mention that the game comes well recommended. It won the 1998 Interactive Fiction Competition and has recently been favorably reviewed by both Play This Thing! and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Go ahead and read those reviews if you need convincing, they won't spoil anything either.

Photopia is interactive fiction, light on the interactive. The story is extremely linear, and although it does contain a couple puzzles, they're simple and pretty straightforward. There should be little of the adventure-game-style frustration that often accompanies this kind of game, although it is text-based so you will have to work with a parser. The other thing I'll say about it is that it's only about forty-five minutes long, and it's worthwhile to find yourself a little block of time to play through the whole thing. I played it over the course of two days, and I wish now that the experience had been uninterrupted. Oh, and also, I want to repeat RPS's advice: when the time comes, for God's sake, talk to Alley about astrophysics.

After you've had a chance to play the game, I'll talk some more about the specific things it sparked for me. So here's your warning: sometime in the future, subsequent entries on this blog will contain Photopia spoilers. And you will be much better off, as a reader of this blog and as a human being, if you've played the game before that time comes. You have been warned!

ETA: PTT! has links to the game and relevant interpreters, so go there for the download.

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