Mr Reed is an intransitive writer. His prose has no object. The reason why I use the honorific is because I know several Aarons and Mr Reed could never force his way into their company. It’s not just that his prose is immature and purple, that his narrative voice is that of a droning dullard or that his “insights” verge on idiocy – what is of far more concern is that his writing is empty of substance. Mr Reed’s sentences can be rapidly written and once one learns how banal they are, their reading need not be hampered with comprehension. It’s like watching a bricklayer lay bricks. You might as well take a nap or watch the news while the author diligently drones on, laying words on top of words. And is Mr Reed a diligent bricklayer! Oh boy! According to one player, Blue Lacuna is roughly the equivalent of a 1000 page novel.
Never mind the Aryan Girl fetish or the trite metaphors. What is truly nutty about this passage is that Mr Reed apparently fancies himself a wisdom writer. The wisdom he offers is this. Blonds have “cold” souls, and should you run into one whose soul is “warm,” consider yourself lucky.
The single most amazing thing about Blue Lacuna is that it uses the Inform parser and yet feels like something written in Adrift. The troglodytic parser and the hilariously unhelpful tutorial are unfortunately the game’s only comedic relief. The writing is a monotone of humourless, pompous kitsch that is quite refreshing in its sameness. Normally writers have their ups and downs, especially if the project takes several years to complete, as was apparently the case here. Mr Reed has somehow managed to consistently scrape bottom, never lifting above “dandelion touches on delicate nerves.”
The secret of Mr Reed’s prose? Slip in an archaic term (‘bough’ is so much better than ‘branch’), latinate your diction a smidge (‘infuse’ is after all much more classy than ‘fill’), always tell and never show (why bother describing a graceful arrangement of pine branches when you can simply call them graceful), never shirk from the painfully obvious (make clear that the forest is outside), avoid wit at all cost (which should be easy for Mr Reed) and hope that your tongue swimming in its sea of spit becomes a poet’s quill.
So the parser has been deliberately broken and the prose is execrable, but what about the design? At the very opening the game forces the player to make a series of explicit choices: the PC’s gender, the Significant Other’s gender and love xor art. This is never a good idea. Leather Goddesses of Phobos did a similar thing, only there the choice was made implicitly and rather unexpectedly and was in fact quite witty. Here it is not only painfully explicit and inelegant but also utterly useless. No matter what gender configuration you choose, the sex that follows is the same, the only difference being the pronouns.
Considering that Blue Lacuna has had no fewer than eighteen testers, the sheer sloppiness of its implemenation is astounding. Perhaps they were hypnotised by the monotonous drone of Mr Reed’s prose. Or maybe they learned that the secret of reading a mammoth of an infodump, written by a guy who thinks having sex is like touching oneself with dandelions, is skimming the words while thinking about something else.