Review: Barcarolle in Yellow by @Victor_Ojuel
At some point in life I got somehow hooked on Italy, the beautiful country, the art, the old ruins, the scenery and the Italian language. So, having noticed that there is now an entry in the IFComp that is set in Venice, I just had to try this game out and attempt to write this short review.
Right in the beginning, some title texts are presented cleverly in the middle of the on-going game, which creates a nice start-of-a-movie -like effect.
At many locations in the game, the atmosphere is just excellent, achieved by just a few well selected words and short descriptions of the characters and the weather.
As for complexity, I managed to fail many times, either due to my lack of intelligence or sometimes because of not finding the exact command for the parser to understand. So, as a small improvement suggestion, adding just some more synonyms for the parser to understand might make the game a bit more fluent for the player at times.
Still, the hint system worked quite well, and was also funny in a subtle way. And also, thinking about some old school parser based games, if the parser could not understand a given command, it might say “Unknown noun”, etc, but in this game this aspect was also turned around, and was given as a warning or a command for the player to to finally get her act together. Nice touch!
There is sometimes - and no doubt this is deliberate and well thought out - a sense of being on some meta layer or level of all the acting and filmmaking going on. Whether you are in the reality or in the script, the line between the two can get ambiguous.
Despite some typos here and there, overall I found this game to be an impressive and immersive experience, with some expert quality work in the textual representation, the in-depth knowledge about the giallo genre and the description of Venice and the districts.
The way the story carried forward hovered somewhere between reality and film script, so the game itself, as the flow of it was modified and driven by the way the player played it, actually wrote a unique script for that game session.
Having just seen the excellent new film, Fallen leaves, by the Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, there was something in this game that made me again realize how a unique style carried out with grace and consistency can make all the difference in the experience, whether it’s a book, a browser-based interactive fiction game or a full blown movie.
I really enjoyed and appreciated the overall quality of Barcarolle in Yellow and the excellent experience it provided.
If my vote counts, I would grade it 9/10.