As has been my practice for the last few years, I’ve set my RSS feed to truncate entries so that I can post reviews without spoilerage. Within an entry, there is a short, spoilerless discussion (though the comp purists may want to avoid reading even that before playing for themselves); then spoiler space; then a more detailed discussion of what I thought did and didn’t work in the game.
You are probably already familiar with my policy about tested games. This is an Eric Eve game, which means that I didn’t really feel I needed to check the ABOUT text to find out whether it had been tested, but I did anyway.
This is distinctly odd, and I’m not sure what to make of it. It’s competently assembled and engaging from moment to moment, but it’s very hard to get a good handle on what’s going on: the story pops the reality stack a few too many times, with dreams, flashbacks, hypnosis and lies all mingling in the protagonist’s head and making it hard to know what’s what. When all was said and done, I didn’t feel like the story meant as much as some of the hinting imagery might have suggested.
Okay, to get this straight: the story is that you’ve been asked to fly some equipment through a snowstorm into the Rockies to make important measurements. You’re sidetracked by a guy who tells you he’s an FBI agent and your package is drugs. Instead of doing the obvious and actually checking the content of the package in any way, you’re forced to pick a side to trust. Moreover, the faux FBI agent has access to a magical hypnotizing crystal that has allowed you to see a (truthful, or at least correctly-warning) future in which you die in a plane crash… and another future in which, uh, maybe climate change has been responsible for an apocalyptic event. And there were some dreams and flashbacks and visions.
And through all this, in your dreams and your interactions, is an image: a field of white with a strand of gold, recapitulated in the unicorn and the lily and the butterfly, the gold thread in the skeleton, the heronweed in the snow bank. This is evocative stuff, more memorable in some respects than any of the layers of plot (none of which sticks around for long): some metaphor, I had assumed, for death and the soul, the mortal flesh and the unquenchable spirit.
At some point I thought the story might turn out to be about sacrificial action: risking yourself to deliver the package, perhaps, because you’re convinced after all of the importance of the delivery. That might make some little bit of sense out of the nested stories and images.
But instead it’s purely a whom-do-you-trust puzzle (Eric does a lot with that idea), where there’s even less evidence than usual because the story is so convoluted. There is of course the correlation between the agent and the wolf we met in the hypnosis sequence, and between the guy who gave us the package and our hypnosis mentor. Still, I wasn’t clear on what exactly that meant in terms of whom to trust, given that the wolf in the hypnosis did us remarkably little harm, while our mentor appeared to be at the very least severely misguided.
Perhaps the safest thing is to apply Rule 1 of Eric Eve Games: Always mistrust the mysteriously attractive character:
she he is lying. Maybe not about everything, but definitely about something.
But this, I feel, means calling on information external to the game.
So… am I missing something?