Shade: To Keep You In The Dark

The following is my personal analysis of the interactive fiction game, Shade:

This week we were assigned to play the interactive fiction game, Shade. Shade is actually designed in a way that keeps the gamer in the dark, so to speak, until the very end when all is revieled.Though this may not work in other games, it is a true advantage to the tangled story line of this particular work because it matches the twisted shady plot. Shade is a much darker game than what I initially thought it would be. The gamer is automatically aware of an ominous dark element from the very beginning line of the game “Odd, how the light just makes your apartment gloomier.” Shade has three distinctly designed elements that make it unique, the first is the way the goal of the game is presented, the second, the tricky nature of the tasks list, and finally, the character’s misguided understanding of the situation.

Unlike many other games, in Shade the goal and plot is not explicitly stated or clearly laid out for the gamer before any action is taken. The gamer is really left to try to figure out what steps need to be taken and next and how exactly they choose to go about that action. Though it can be confusing for some to operate in a way that is not clearly explained before hand, in Shade, the gamer eventually learns that there are two distinct elements that are placed in the game to help the gamer through there quest. Both the plant and the travel book list help the gamer complete tasks and move forward in their quest. The type of the plant changes to indicate the player’s progress in the game and, as the player gets closer to the end, the plants become more and desert-esque, which also leads back into the main theme of the game. The travel book list, on the other hand, is more of a road map than it is a list. The list gives the player hints as to which task is to be completed next.

Another interesting element to the game Shade is the tricky, almost underhanded, way that the task list works. As I mentioned above, the list is designed to help the gamer decide where to go and what to do next. However, the part that really makes Shade stand out from other works like it is the fact that some task must be accomplished multiple times in order to actually be considered completed by the list and gain the ability to move forward in the game. Also, there are a few task that must be completed several different ways before they are achieved, such is the case with the search for the tickets. No matter where you check the tickets are never visible until you get to the third place you search and then you find them there, where ever the gamer chooses third place is. This small design element ties into the larger feeling of confusion that makes up the theme of the game.

The final part that makes Shade so very different from any other game is the character’s own cense of misguided understanding which in turn, shades the gamer’s understand. The character in the game seems very confused himself/herself. They do not seem to have any of their belongings together even though they have been planing this special trip for so long. Their small, one room apartment is shabby, disorganized, and a complete mess. Even their jumbled list is a mess, sitting among an even larger mess of a desk.The character does not even seem to know where they are or what is happening and all the confusion that the character feels is felt directly by the gamer as well. As the game progresses the gamer tries desperately to piece the story together until the very end.

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