Ceremony of Innocence
Windows 95/Macintosh CD-Rom by Real World MultiMedia Ltd., 1997
System Req. for Windows: Pentium, Microsoft Windows 95, 16 Mb RAM, 16-bit color, 640x480 resolution, CD-ROM drive, Quicktime 2.1 (included), RSX and DirectX (included), Soundblaster 16 or compatible sound card, headphones or speakers. I could not load this game on Win XP, but played it without a single problem on my computer with Win 95.
I thought I would write a review of this amazing CD-Rom. It isn't an adventure game in the truest sense, but it is an adventure of the mind and it tells a story, so I feel it deserves to be reviewed in case someone sees it and wonders about it.
The story is based on the trilogy of the fictional letters and postcards from Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock. You can tell the game is special right away because the box is unusual. It is a square box, red and black with the image of half a yellow sun and half a blue moon on the front. The front of the box shows a mask and a boy climbing and words, handwritten and typed. The back of the box shows screen shots from the game and this description: "Immerse yourself in a mysterious interactive love story, told through the intense correspondence between Griffin, a young artist from London and Sabine, his enigmatic South Sea Island muse. The twisting narrative sweeps you through a series of sensationally dark and humorous interactive riddles and compelling film sequences contained within 75 letters and postcards. More than two hours of original soundtrack enhances the story with a haunting dance of voice, imagery and music. The journey through Ceremony of Innocence is an intensely personal experience -- each participant will have a unique emotional response to the haunting relationship of Griffin and Sabine." I wish I had written that description myself. In fact, I wish I had written the entire game, or the book trilogy. When you open the box to start your adventure, you find a plain black interior on one side with a recessed square that holds a jewel case, and the recess has a tab that you pull to get the jewel case out of the box. I found that choice interesting, because it is a sort of illustration for the concept of the game. The game consists of 75 letters and postcards that represent correspondence between a man and a woman, separated by land and ocean. To access each of these cards and letters, you have to activate them, and that reminds me of the tab that must be pulled to receive the jewel case in the first place, and the fact that you have to remove the CD from the jewel case to access the information inside.....you get the picture. If you are looking for difficult puzzles to open the letters and cards, you will be disappointed. The triggers aren't made to frustrate or distract you from the story that is being told. They are meant to highlight a theme contained within the trigger, or to evoke an emotion or just pure pleasure in watching the beauty or darkness of the message unfold.
When the letters and cards are opened or activated, they are read aloud by Paul McGann (Griffin), Isabella Rossellini (Sabine) and Ben Kingsley (another character later in the story--I don't want to spoil anything!). As I listened, I couldn't believe how perfect the choices were for the voice actors. I've never really noticed Paul McGann before, but his haunting rich voice with delicious English accent was enough to make me scurry to the computer to look up everything he has done, so that I can hear that voice again!
You might be wondering what the purpose of this game is, and all I can say is that it is just for enjoyment. Have you ever had the urge to read a letter or diary that someone has written? Wouldn't it be even more enjoyable to not only see the letter, but to also hear the author read it, hear the emotion in his or her voice? There is a mystery about this couple and as each letter or card is opened (with its stunning art work) the mystery has twists and turns that have to be interpreted and absorbed. I've only played it once and I'm not sure I've gotten even half of what the pictures might have represented, or why the words were presented to me in a particular way.
If you like to look at beautiful things, listen to enchanting voices and read books just for the pleasure of it, then I can heartily recommend this haunting adventure/game/experience. I don't think you will be disappointed.
What lies behind you and what lies before you are tiny matters compared to what lies within you.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson