IFReviewed by Andrew Plotkin on 2006-07-01 04:22
I must confess to mixed feelings. This is an excellent work. The writing is very good; the sound and visual touches add to the experience. It's an effective presentation of four viewpoint characters and a fifth, the artist whom they are all viewing.
However... it's very static. And I say this as someone who thought Photopia was a fully interactive game. This isn't, not even superficially. You move around and look at paintings. Everything that you learn comes out of that; there is no other form of interaction.
So the work is, without any irony, a portrait rather than a story. Or maybe "history" would be a better word. Things happened, but they don't happen now, and they don't happen to the player. So it's not really what I'm looking for in interactive fiction.
I was also a little disappointed that the characters didn't all mesh together. Two of them have interacted with the artist, and figure in his story, and therefore in each others' stories. But the other two seem to be entirely in their own worlds -- spinning ideas that seem to have nothing to do with the artist's reality. I guess I could take that as a comment about art; everybody's view is valid. But it felt like a waste of an opportunity.
One interesting touch is the use of first-person narrative. As I said earlier, third-person IF really annoys me, but this voice didn't. It was certainly appropriate -- four characters speaking, as if to the (observing) player.
Possibly the very passive game-nature that I'm complaining about makes this work; since the protagonist never acts, only observes, there's no discomfort -- nothing to be distanced from. Or, maybe it's the other way: the first-person voice adds to the feeling of non-interactivity. Hard to tell.