Wow. That’s all I have to say after playing the Interactive Fiction game Shrapnel. I decided to check it out because we had talked about it in class and I wanted to learn more. I was so frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t quit the game, that I felt like there had to be more to it. After I played a few minutes in class, I became hooked, went back to my room and played all the way through it.
You “play” as a character who is from the Civil War era. You have been in war, you have been wounded, and you keep on dying. It’s infuriating. It doesn’t matter what you do; you will always die doing it. However, you keep waking up in different places and as different people. (Warning: Spoiler alert). As you go through, the time periods also change as well as the places and people. After dying several times, you go into more of a story mode than a play mode. You come in contact with Green who really reveals he is from the future and is in love with your daughter. He reveals all about you. He knows that you are a father who was wounded, went into a risky business venture, raped your own daughter who later hung herself, and he was trying to go back in time to save you from getting injured, so you wouldn’t do any of these things. He used a time machine in which to do this but while he was trying to save you from the shrapnel, his time machine got destroyed by some shrapnel of its own. This sent the two of you into a limbo like area, where you find yourself, blipping back and forth between times in your life until you eventually just die and the game ends.
You have no control much like the main character in a lot of this game, if you can even call it a game. Adam Cadre not only gave you the story part of the game, but he used the little parts of the game, like the fact that you can’t quit the game when you die or sometimes you don’t have a choice as to what happens next, to show you how frustrating it can be to not be in control of your destiny. It is a very easy game to play. You do not have to do much to try and figure out what you are doing. There are few movements to the game, in which you are almost trying to die so you can learn more. The point of the game is to just figure out what the heck you are doing and what is happening to you. There is a lot of reading involved but I was so into the game that I didn’t care because I was so confused that I wanted to know as much as I could.
I loved it. I loved the slap in the face realization at the end. Cadre did the same thing for me in his Interactive Fiction “Photopia”. In both “Shrapnel” and “Photopia”, Cadre does every scene out of order. This causes more confusion but it makes the ending that much more of an eye-opening realization of what was really happening. I would recommend everyone playing through “Shrapnel” and experiencing it for themselves. It was awesome.