IF Comp 2014: Laterna Magica (Jens Byriel)


Laterna Magica is a short choice-based piece about meditation and cosmic experiences. I interacted with it for a while; I didn’t reach an ending, but I’m not sure that there was one to reach.

Laterna Magica presents, on each screen, a question, followed by a choice between two answers that concern to understanding one’s position in the universe, or dealing with one’s emotional and spiritual state. Most of these answers appear lead the player back to previous screens, cyclically. All of them present advice about, e.g., how to experience a feeling of oneness with the cosmos, and the answers are things like

B: The cosmic experience as we have come to understand it, is that we are one with all there is, and that we are aware that this is so, and that the cosmic experience is truly all there is.

I am honestly not entirely sure how to take this. It might be meant as genuine philosophical and spiritual advice, in which case I fear it didn’t speak to me very much.

On the other hand, when I got tired of going around in circles, I did crack open the source and found some references to magicians who are able to alter physical reality using powers gleaned from consultation with their third eye. Perhaps the idea is that this presents a fantasy-philosophy, that it’s meant to be a book or treatise that has fallen through to us from some world in which such magicians exist. If the latter, I did not find Laterna Magica a very compelling way of presenting the story of those magicians, due to its circularity, vagueness, and lack of actual incidents, settings, or characters.

Also reviewed by Sam Kabo Ashwell.

4 thoughts on “IF Comp 2014: Laterna Magica (Jens Byriel)”

  1. I think I reached an ending (It said I reached enlightenment and that “A new king is born”, or something like that), but I completely forget how I reached there. I think it keeps track of what passages you’ve seen and gives you an ending if you’ve seen however many of them. (Perhaps all?)

    1. Aha! I’ve figured it out! (rot13 below)
      Lbh arrq gb ernpu gur “rayvtugrazrag” cnffntr ng yrnfg bapr. Guvf frgf n synt gung bar bs gur bgure cnffntrf purpxf, juvpu yrgf lbh gnxr gur cnffntr vagb gur raqtnzr. Fryrpg gur “vaare yvtug”* pubvpr, naq lbh’ir ernpurq gur raq.

      * (V guvax guvf vf jung vg’f pnyyrq; ertneqyrff, vg’f jungrire bar vfa’g gur “rayvtugrazrag” pubvpr.)

      This certainly was a weird one. I don’t think the references to magicians necessarily means it’s set in a fantasy universe. Certainly there’s some New Age-y groups that believe in magic, and this game is nothing if not New Age-y.

      1. Aha! Okay. Thanks! I’ll see if I can give it another go later. As I mentioned, I did *look* at the source, but Twine source runs together a bit and isn’t super easy to read, so I missed that option. (And I have mixed feelings about looking at the source anyway.)

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