[REVIEW] Familiar

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Eric Mayer

Mar 24, 2002, 8:45:23 PM3/24/02
by Papillon

The great spring of comps has turned out to be poorly timed for me
since it has coincided with a work glut. I did however play and very
much enjoyed Papillon's FAMILIAR. Given the dearth of comp reviews I
wanted to at least put in a recommendation.

First the criticism. FAMILIAR was, for me, from the mold of Jon
Ingold's ALL ROADS (and a mold I hope someone confiscates and breaks
really really quickly) in that I admit the ending(s) I got to (which
included what I took to be the "main" ones) didn't leave me feeling
satisified that I fully understood the story. Please, authors - hit me
over the head at the end. Don't ever figure most players know what's
going on. Most of the time they don't. If you have to just leave a
note lying on the floor in the last scene. "Read this if you're a

Luckily FAMILIAR was also from the ALL ROADS mold in being a terrific
game. Maybe it just pandered to my proclivities - a manageable (small)
map and easy, common-sense puzzles - but I liked this one a lot.

OK. It starts with amnesia. But how many games start with amnesia
because you've, for some reason, drunk water from the River Lethe? Why
would you do that? Now certainly there's an incentive to explore.
Actually, amnesia isn't such a bad idea. Finding out who you are is
more compelling than finding treasures.

The two main puzzles were a delight. You explore a few rooms and a
garden to accumulate the ingrediants to make a couple magic potions.
What you need isn't hidden. Your main problem is a lack of knowledge
about the herbs that are clearly growing in the garden. You do find a
weighty tome to assist you . The descriptions of the properties of
herbs therein is fascinating in itself. Of course I enjoyed being able
to solve the puzzles with no problem,but more than that I enjoyed
being able to do - well, pretty much exactly what I would do under the
circumstances - poking around the house and garden as one would in
real life, thinking things through and finding that common-sense
works. And finally, when you have the ingrediants, there's no
frustrating fiddling about - knowing you've basicaly solved the real
puzzle but facing some kind of unrealistic, guess-the verb/,mechanical
contrivance barrier.

Along the way you do learn a lot about you are are - and probably not
what you'd expect.

Again, highly recommended.

Eric Mayer
Web Site: <http://home.epix.net/~maywrite>

"The map is not the territory." -- Alfred Korzybski

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