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Through the Looking Glass

  • nhubi
  • 05/28/2014 07:36 AM
Right from the get go this game captivated me. That opening title graphic is lush and gorgeous and the music is haunting. Then we get silence and the intro, simple and yet evocative. You get given a choice from the start which determines the make-up of your party. There are three classes, Magician, Offensive and Defensive, dependant on your answer you'll be one of them and your two companions will each take up one of the other roles. Straight off the bat this little tweak guarantees replay.

This game has gleefully subverted my three favourite characters from Alice in Wonderland, because honestly even as a child I could never stomach Alice herself, but the Hatter, White Rabbit and Cheshire Cat always drew me back to the tales with a smile.

Carroll's rabbit never said that!

This rabbit however makes me laugh out loud. Though I'm not sure that particular expletive is contemporary with his supposed milieu, but given the comedy value, I'm happy to forgive the anachronism.

Humour is notoriously subjective, but it's obvious from the start that the developer of this game and I are on a similar wavelength, some don't quite hit the mark for me but the majority do. The Gaimanesque references towards the end and the 'you can see it coming but can't look away' NZ joke are worth the price of admission on their own.

A magician, a madman and a teapot, priceless.

You hit battles pretty much from the first screen you walk into, the system is classic turn based, but some of the skill-sets are innovative and fun. Hatter can mimic which means he basically copies the spells of the enemy and adds them to his arsenal so for me that's always his first action. Rabbit's main offensive abilities require a sacrifice of a percentage of his HP to accomplish but he can also vampire to damage his foe and replenish his HP so he can carve away at an enemy and then vamp out and do it again. As for Cheshire, well (s)he eats things to up his/her stats.

..and to round out our trio, the ravenous Cheshire.

So it becomes a bit of fun to try and bring an enemy down low enough that when Cheshire hits it with a devour skill it's a kill shot which enables the transference of stats, it's a great element and I had a lot of fun with it.

Save always is on, definite plus, walking speed is slow and dash appears to be disabled which is a minus. I'm not a fan of the slow walk through scenes. Though given the dreamlike setting of this game, it's almost bearable.

There are quite a few one-way only transitions, so clearing out an area before moving on is a must as in some cases you simply can't go back. Though that also adds to the replay value. One section is helpfully called the fork in the road, so you know you're not going to get to go down all the paths the first time around.

I only ran across a few small glitches I'm going to put them in spoiler tags because they are probably an easy fix and shouldn't influence a review for another player. Also they hint at things that happen later in the game.
I found a bandanna in a chest but no one can equip it.
In the castle the caterpillar script flicks on and off, sometime Blank is following you, most times he isn't.
When you access the menu in the castle Lex shows up twice, as in two sprites standing next to each other, not as in you have three options and two of them are Lex.
There is one grammatical error I found, in the corridor before the dénouement, the words romantic and relationships have been run together. However it's the only one I found and I actively notice them, so well done.

The exposition in this game is well handled, neither too much nor too little and spaced with enough time to digest the information given and consider some of the ramifications before the next piece is handed over. As always I appreciate the use of 'show, not tell' for story progression and that is done with a level of finesse here. The only part that feels a little forced is the homoerotic comments between Rabbit and Hatter, but they are rarely easy to get right irrespective of gender preference. In addition since this game appears to be part of a greater in-universe tale I know there are subtle clues and interactions I am missing, but truthfully that just makes me more likely to play the other games by SorceressKyrsty to find how these characters, in whatever incarnation, fit within the grander scheme.

In case you haven't worked it out from the screen shots and my starting praise, this game is beautiful. The snow encrusted landscape is pristine and stark, the graphics and face sets are superbly rendered and the overwhelming mood is well polished and a pleasure to behold. It's not pretty, it is stunning.

You just knew there had to be a rabbit hole.

One of the things that truly attracts me to a game is the attention to detail and this one has a plethora of them, little moments or niceties supplied by the developer that indicates the attention they have lavished on this work. A prime example of this is Rabbit, he changes during the course of the adventure and not only does his character sprite and face set change, his description and his battle image changes to match as well, it's a single vision carried through every scene.

The music played through the majority of the game has a dreamlike music-box quality, with gentle tinkling notes that both fit the snowy expanses in which you walk and is reminiscent of the ticking of a clock, which or course makes you think of the White Rabbit and his ubiquitous pocket watch. It's perfectly suited to this snow-clad dream-scape.

Right to the end, I'm laughing.

This game is a gem, a small but well polished ruby in the snow. Go play it.