It's taken me a while
to play through this game and, having done so, my enduring impression is
confused. A bit like the game itself. Rate the parts, and some would get
top marks. Rate the whole and you get – well, I am not completely sure.
If your passion is puzzles, generally hard ones of
the type where you pull a lever to see what it does, then put it back to
pull another one, and by pulling enough of them you can work out the what
and then the how of the puzzle, you will find a lot to like here. If you
enjoy a virtually solitary experience, where you wander and ponder, and go
back and forth and try another room, and get stuck and go elsewhere then
come back and try again, then ditto. If you like lots of that (and don’t
need much else), then you will likely rate this highly.
If you don’t like those things, or if to enjoy them
you need a clear story, a sense of direction, a coherent logic between the
environment and the puzzles, or even an inventory, you will probably rate
it less highly.
I like all those things, especially lone puzzle
fests. But I play games rather than buy a puzzle book because I want them
joined up by a narrative, and I generally want more than a self-contained
puzzle on a page. I want to scour the gaming world, learning things here
that I can use there. I don’t need other people to talk to, but if they do
talk to me, I want what they say to add to my experience in some way,
rather than just being background noise. I want things to come together,
not feel like a loose assemblage of bits and pieces.
It will be apparent that I wouldn’t be mentioning
these aspects if they weren’t present here. I did find the puzzles a
little “tacked on”, the storyline was too metaphysical for its own good,
and the game lacked some direction. Puzzles just “were”, and while they
functioned as locked doorways to (essentially) another puzzle, this “why”
was not readily apparent.
The story involves a chip implanted into your head,
by which you become an agent for the Strategic Intelligence Alliance. The
chip enables you to experience the alternative reality, or the spaces in
between reality, known as Slip Space. You are following (or looking for) a
man called Webster Wotsletter and his five sons. The embarkation point is
a strange, disappearing building called The Golden Age of Advertising.
It's through that building that you enter The Shave, the home environment
There is a fair bit on the developer’s website about
the story, and you can find a development journal on the web which
provides further insights if you want to dig deeper. I confess that the
revealing of the story got lost in the telling during game play, so I was
thankful for these resources.
Graphically, the game shows its independent roots.
Scenes lacked some definition, and had a tendency to be busy. But the
blurring and melting of colours and edges depicted the oddness of an
altered perception rather well. The point and click slideshow approach
meant there were often views I couldn’t get, but I didn’t feel
disadvantaged in my exploration to any significant degree by this.
Puzzling is a high point, and is not for the novice.
The first two puzzles bookend what is to come; the first being the easiest
and the second, in my opinion, the hardest. Those in between -- and there
are quite a few of them -- are much more like the second, and you will be
tested not just by how to solve them, but by understanding what it is that
you are trying to solve.
Once you get to The Shave, the essentially nonlinear
nature of the game means you can back off one puzzle and tinker with a
different one for awhile, something that is essential when the puzzling is
Some involve colour, some involve maths, most
involve pushing and pulling and interpreting what you see happen. What you
see is mostly what you need – just get the brain working on understanding
it. I love these sorts of puzzles, and while a little less
self-containment would have added to the experience, the difficulty made
up for it. The game took me weeks to finish, and I did need a prod more
than once along the way.
I don’t recall a lot of ambient noise or music, nor
do I remember thinking “where is all the sound?” I think these types of
games, in fact, benefit from a somewhat spartan approach.
There were no set-up issues and the game never
crashed. I generally adopted an
approach of saving before I started fiddling, so I could reset the puzzle
to its starting point by reloading if need be.
Whatever your preference in adventure games, you
have to admire the passion that went into this one. Slip Space
isn’t just more of the same, although it is reminiscent of quite a few
games and, like RHEM, it’s the work of one man. It set out to be
ambitious, and while it didn’t hit the mark in some areas, its ambition is
apparent. On reflection, it is probably those characteristics that will
stay with me, which is not a bad impression to make.
Slip Space: The Burma-Shave Analogy
can be purchased via download at the
game’s website here.
I played on:
OS: Win XP
AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz
Gx card: ATI
Radeon HD 3850 512Mb
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