Slip Space: The Burma-Shave Analogy

Genre:   Adventure, puzzle

Developer & Publisher:    Dan Markosian

Released:  Digital download March 2010

Additional Screenshots



by flotsam


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 of Webster.

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 difficult.

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 Professional SP3

Processor: AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz

Ram: 3.25GB DDR2 400MHz

Gx card: ATI Radeon HD 3850 512Mb

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