Wednesday, October 21, 2009

[IF Competition] Resonance

Today's spoiler space is a quote from Isaiah Berlin's The Roots of Romanticism, in which he talks about how romanticism severed--really for the first time in Western thought--the ideas of truth and moral goodness.
Suppose you had a conversation in the sixteenth century with somebody fighting in the great religious wars which tore Europe apart at that period, and suppose you said to a Catholic of that period, engaged in hostilities, `Of course these Protestants believe what is false; of course to believe what they believe is to court perdition; of course they are dangerous to the salvation of human souls, than which there is nothing more important; but they are so sincere, they die so readily for their cause, their integrity is so splendid, one must yield a certain meed of admiration for the moral dignity and sublimity of people who are prepared to do that.' Such a sentiment would have been unintelligible. Anyone who really knew, supposed themselves to know, the truth, say a Catholic who believed in the truths preached to him by the Church, would have known that persons able to put the whole of themselves into the theory and practice of falsehood were simply dangerous persons, and that the more sincere they were, the more dangerous, the more mad.
Of course, for a Romantic like Byron, admiring sincerity was more or less the essence of ethics.

So, I have been playing Resonance, and it was one of the most purely enjoyable experiences in this competition so far. There is a certain overall lack of polish, there are a couple of bugs, the conversations are very railroaded and the story is loaded with clich├ęs and dubious genre conventions about the portrayal of women, yes--but I was having a good time, which makes me willing to forgive many things as long as the author promises to mend his ways. (A promise which I will for the sake of convenience consider made when I score this game.)

What's to like? The game keeps the story flowing steadily, giving you enough guidance to keep moving forward, but also giving you enough freedom to feel engaged in the story. Indeed, there are a couple of significantly different episodes than can happen in the main story line, which is impressive.

In addition, the whole game is terribly good-natured, even as it describes the most gruesome things. It is the opposite of Condemned, in this respect: in that game, eating an egg would have been a gloomy experience pointing to death and destruction; in this game, the useless death of five police officers exists side by side with tin-foil hats and garlic-yoghurt candy bars. Resonance is straight-faced but fundamentally unserious, and this makes the shallowness of the story acceptable and turns into something you can simply enjoy.

That may not be the highest possible achievement for a piece of IF, but it is certainly a fine achievement to start out with. With another round of beta-testing, this game could easily become one that can be whole-heartedly recommended to those looking for amusing, not too difficult IF.

And I would now like to give Matt Scarpino the "Special Award for Humiliating Victor Gijsbers", for making a riddle to which I not only did not know the answer, but did not even know what the word that turned out the be the answer meant.

Guess that means I have to rehearse my English vocabulary! (Audible groans throughout the audience. The Gaming Philosopher removed from seven RSS-feeds.)

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