Life Flashes By is a sort-of graphic adventure by Deirdra Kiai (who also did Pigeons in the Park and Chivalry is Not Dead). The protagonist is Charlotte Barclay, who in the first scene appears in a tulgey wood with Trevin, the Near Death Fairy, and is told that since she has just had a terrible car accident, is in the OR room, and may shortly die, it is mandatory, in the usual way of things, for her to undergo a "life review." In other words, the set-up is, or ought to be, familiar to us from It's a Wonderful Life, if nothing else, with Trevin being a purple-goateed hipster fairy presumably because angels are too, too cliche.
There are seven "levels," if you want to call them such, each representing an important moment in Charlotte's life when she chose one path, but might have chosen another; after playing each through, an alternate scene, showing what might have happened had she chosen otherwise, unlocks. More...
Off With Her Head is partly an experiment with an alternative conversation system; partly an exploration of a morally dubious space; and partly the sort of game the purpose of which is to uncover the different endings (ala I Wish I Were the Moon or The Majesty of Colors).
The backstory is that the King has gotten annoyed that no one will marry him, and has decreed that all unmarried women must join his harem, or die. You are the king's executioner, presented with a series of women. You must attempt to persuade them to join the king's harem or, of course, execute them.
Gameplay is in a series of dialogs with these women; rather than entering text, IF-style, when it's your turn to respond, you press one of the arrow keys: Up for Yes, Down for No, Left for "ask question" and Right for "answer." At left top are a series of red light-bulbs for you, and yellow ones for the woman you're talking with; if her row of light bulbs is reduced to zero, she succumbs, and you have saved her life. Contrariwise, if your row declines to zero, you've run out of ideas, and must execute her. Some other dialog choices also lead to her execution (e.g., answering "yes" if she says "You're going to kill me now, aren't you?")
It's actually a somewhat awkward game to play; as you, or the woman, speaks, text appears in a scroll, and the instant she stops talking, your light bulbs start to disappear. Thus, to play effectively, you must be ready to respond instantly. As a result, though the dialog from the woman is often interesting (and pathetic), you wind up ignoring much of it and hammering on a key to avoid losing light-bulbs. A little more time to respond would improve the game, I think.
As the executioner, you are, of course, in a morally repugnant position; neither execution nor slavery is exactly a desirable alternative, of course, but if you fail to do your duty, the king will execute you instead (and call in a new executioner -- game over and restart, in other words). Still, perhaps where there's life, there's hope, so conceivably the least repulsive option is to earnestly try to persuade the women. But of course, some of them are very resistant, and there's certainly a temptation at times to say, hell with it, kill the bitch.
In addition to the clearly undesirable ending (the king kills you), there are at least two others: one in which you have persuaded enough women to satisfy the king, and another in which you execute the king. They're hard to get to, however.
Deirdra Kiai is an adventure game developer, mostly working in the Wintermute engine, who has created a series of games that explore the functional space of the game in interesting ways. I'm not at all sure that's her intention, actually; my impression is that she's simply creating things to satisfy a personal aesthetic. And yet the results are interesting enough to merit a degree of intellectual analysis that most commercial titles, hackneyed as they are, do not.
In Chivalry Is Not Dead, she created a short graphic adventure where (in Doug Church's conception of the term) player expression dictated outcomes, and the "beads on a string" linearity of most graphic adventures was abandoned.
2010 IGF Nominee for Audio, Technical Excellence, and the Nuovo Award
Closure is a stark, black-and-white and rather mysterious platform puzzler. On the first level, you walk away from a burning car -- but into an unexplained world of levels, with the typical exit at some location. Controls are typical -- arrow keys to move, up-arrow to jump, and down-arrow or space to pick up.
The gimmick is that while each level has a fixed layout, only illuminated areas exist. That is, if you pick up and carry one of the balls of light that exist on each level, you may find yourself walking along a continuous platform. But if you drop the ball and walk out into the darkness, the part of the platform you passed previously in the light no longer exists, and you fall through it.
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