new review of old game: Andrew Plotkin's SHADE

Hey, i wrote a review of Andrew Plotkin’s SHADE. It’s on my blog: enjoy! :nerd:

You should ask to have your blog put on Planet IF:
It’s the best way to tell people of blog updates!

cool, thanks for the advice!

About the question you had about the ending:

[spoiler]There is an ending other than being in the desert. From the walkthrough here:

“The figure is revealed, but is fragile. Almost anything you do to it will damage it, except just looking. Once it’s dead, read the book and wait.”[/spoiler]

(Sorry for posting this here – I don’t think I have any way of logging on to post a comment at LJ, except maybe hooking it into my Google account which I don’t want to do.)

Seeing this thread and reading about Shade in several craft/theory articles reminded to finally sit down and play it, which I did yesterday. The game was mysterious and thought-provoking, but I can’t make much sense of it. Maybe it’s not supposed to make sense, but I think there are deliberate themes that I’m missing.

Because IF makes an internal appearance in the game, I’m thinking that maybe Shade is a commentary on IF as an art form. Poems that I’ve had to study in school (probably the same ones that everyone has studied) contain themes about poetry itself, or literature in general (or art, even more generally, perhaps).

(If you haven’t reached the end of the game yet, when the game itself terminates, you may not want to reveal this spoiler)So, I suppose the little figure in the desert represents the player character of an IF game? If that’s the case, then the comment about IF is negative – that IF is pointless. But the IF metaphor probably refers to life as well. We associate life with the text adventure on the computer, and ourselves with the figure representing a player character.

This is just my best interpretation, based on the fact that Shade is the kind of work that sends me hunting for meaning, even if it wasn’t intended to mean very much.

One other thing… (you can reveal this spoiler even if you haven’t finished the whole game, as long as you’ve gotten about halfway through it or so)It’s pretty clear the PC is one of the lost hikers, right? So, he/she did go to the desert festival thing, and got lost, and then was hallucinating about his life and apartment?

I’ve read that there’s some evidence that the PC is a character from Adam Cadre’s novel Ready, Okay! (also that she’s female), but I haven’t read the novel.

I played Shade about 9 years ago. In retrospect, this game feels like it was trying to cheat the IFComp. Pretty much what Lost did (the TV series). It gives the player extremely intriguing mysteries while she’s waiting for a resolution with great anticipation. The player probably won’t finish it in two hours, so a very high score is likely since the game just feels so great, full of mystery.

But when the player actually finishes it, just like in Lost, she gets a giant middle finger in return.

In other words, a stroke of genius by Andrew Plotkin :mrgreen:

mattw- I have, and it’s an intriguing interpretation. Also, I both really enjoyed Ready, Okay! and am extremely hesitant to recommend it to anybody else without knowing their literary taste fairly well. It made me laugh, made me cringe, made me laugh again, then broke my heart. So if you’re into that kind of thing, maybe you should try it? Also if you have a healthy love/hate relationship with southern California. (It reminded me a lot of a play that I’ve worked called Be Aggressive, and not just because of the title.)

Maybe I’m just simpleminded, but I always thought the game-within-the-game was just a metaphor for what’s happening in the story, not the other way around. Using the context of IF to explore a theme, rather than making IF the theme itself.

Huh. I should play it again. I was mostly just freaked out by all of the sand.

(It was the first game that I finished and reviewed.)