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10:27PM - WTF?

  • calunio
  • 04/05/2011 01:38 AM



The reasons I played this game are:

1 - It looks "different", which is often a good thing.
2 - It's a short game.
3 - People told me "you should play The Mirror Lied".

So I did.

When I set myself to play this game, I said to myself: it appears to be a game with no clear story, with things left to interpretation. So I'll play it, write the first half of the review based on my own perception. Then I'll read other people's reviews, and write more, because maybe I'll have misjudged it for missing important things.

Ok, so here we go.

Spoilers may follow. I mean, spoilers WILL follow.

9:55 PM First Half - My perceptions

No idea what I just played.
There's this cool weird intro with objects showing up in an initially empty house. Interesting. Then I take control of this faceless girl. That's it, no more intro, no more instructions. I'm in a big well-mapped house, and I start exploring. There's a small description to every object. Most of them are useless and decorative. Some of them hide items. There aren't many items, and lots of thems are keys used to find other objects, like more keys. The house isn't very big. I keep on exploring. Then stuff happens. Then I get these messages from "someone" telling me stuff about "birdy". I don't know who she is, and the messages are not clear. Then I explore a little more. And then the game ends.

Before I continue with my WTF rants, I should say: this game has beautiful graphics and music and maps etc. Just saying.

But yeah, no idea what happened. Birdy is an actual bird. It flew me away from the house, but I killed it. The person on the phone told me to, many times. I should kill birdy before he flies somewhere. It looks like I killed myself in the process.

I'm a pretty creative person, and I've had my share of reading symbolic interpretation material. I'm also a psychologist. I could try and write a lot of personal interpretations of what I think all of that meant. But there's a big chance I would be entirely wrong, and then I would be making a fool out of myself. There's also a chance that the story doesn't mean anything per se, and the experience is left to each player's interpretation. Bust I just don't like that.

So, yeah, so far I do not like this game. And I don't think I'll change my mind and/or understand more of it if I play it again. It's not like I forgot or missed anything, because the game is very short. Maybe something about clocks and numbers.

Whatever, this is a high-ranked game, I'll read what other people have said about it, and maybe it will enlighten me.

10:18 PM Second Half - Reading Reviews

So I read all of RMN's prior reviews and a couple more reviews outside RMN.
There are two positions I don't understand and don't agree.
One: I don't understand any of this game, but it's brilliant. (X, X)
Two: This game is a bit too vague for me, but the gameplay is indeed very good. (X, X)
Gameplay is basically getting keys to open cabinets to get more keys, so there's definitely no independent charm to it.
I've also noticed some intepretation disagreements on things I thought were obvious. Max says it is birdy who keeps calling you and sending you messages, but it seemed clear to me that someone else was sending messages ABOUT birdy. Also, someone mentioned something about "finding your missing friend" (???).

I guess everyone agreed that there is not a single meaning behind the stuff that happens in the game, and it's open to interpretations. Max was the single person who dared to make one, and maybe that's why he was the one person who seemed to truly love this game. His interpretation is somewhat plausible. But after reading all of what I read, I get the feeling that the game is not so "open to interpretation" as it seems. There is real, intentional metaphoric meaning behind everything. It's just not clear enough. Possibly impossible to understand without the author's explanation (which will likely never happend). But it's there.

If that's the case, making a game that's impossible to understand is not a good idea. In the case there is one correct interpretation, but it's really tricky to understand and it demands some serious thinking and research... then I'd say this game is brilliant. But since I haven't grasped such brilliancy, I'll give it 2 stars.

If you're someone who likes to intepret and over-analyze, good luck with this one.


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The thing about The Mirror Lied: It's basically the Donnie Darko of RPG Maker games. I think that Reives has stated a bunch of times that he created the game not so much as a coherent entity but as a sort of gaming Rorschach blot. The Mirror Lied gives you a box of mismatched puzzle pieces and challenges you to put them together into a coherent shape. The fun comes in creating your own personal interpretation, sharing it with other people and then taking bits of their interpretations into your own until you reach some sort of consensus.

But yeah--it's hard to "grade" The Mirror Lied as a game, because there really isn't much "game" there to grade. Then again, say whatever you like about Reives's games, but his skills at creating atmosphere are probably unparalleled in the RPG Making scene, and The Mirror Lied is probably the best expression of that aesthetic that he's created so far. Part of me wishes that Reives would finish Quintessence, because for all that game's gameplay flaws and plot holes, the graphics and the music were beautiful.

Anyway, nice review, and a good counterpoint to other reactions to the game.
Calunio is the party-pooper of ambiguity & interpretation. :P
I never really understood Donnie Darko. Not completely, anyway. And it's one of my favorite movies, I've watched it many times.

There is one important difference between the way I see Donnie Darko and the way I see The Mirror Lied: I think I understand MOST of Donnie Darko, though there are some pieces of the story that don't fit, they don't make sense to me. But I like DD because of the things I understand, not because of the things I don't. Now as fot TML, I don't get any of it. It's not like the ending doesn't make sense. None of it makes sense.

The Rorschach test is great because it's an INSTRUMENT, not because the ink blots are beautiful. You wouldn't paint a senseless ink blot, have different people say different things about it, and then say "OMG this is beautiful".

But the thing is, I don't believe TML is Rorschach. it's not senseless. It's just hard to understand. I'm pretty sure there is an actual meaning behind the stuff. But I don't get it, no one gets it, maybe no one ever will get it, and thus I fail to graps the brilliancy.

As for the atmosphere, it's very nice indeed, but not the best I've seen in RM. The Longing Ribbon is better. Eyes Without a Face is better.
I never really understood Donnie Darko. Not completely, anyway.


This explains it all, pretty much.. It's the book that grandma death wrote. (fictional book, but some of it was written-up as a companion/promotional thing for the movie, I believe).

On-topic.. I really liked TML and I know I was one of the people who said you should play it. I thought the general tone of the symbolism carried the game without need for specific details spelled out.
if squallbutts was a misao category i'd win every damn year
This game I actually played, and yeah, I agree, there isn't much going for it in terms of understandability or game play, but the atmosphere is great, and I felt I sort of understood it at times- a search for an escape out of a small, cramped space with many keys that seem to lead nowhere. It can be a metaphor for anything- not a good metaphor, some might think, but I think it's constructed with finesse.

It's not the sort of game I'd review imho. It...isn't really a game. I don't know what to call it, but it isn't really a game.
It's not the sort of game I'd review imho. It...isn't really a game. I don't know what to call it, but it isn't really a game.

Why not?
I loved the symbolism and room for interpretation in this "game". There are different clues in the game that "Birdie" is an atomic bomb and the world is getting destroyed by these weapons. Did you see the continents on the world map dissapearing one by one during the game?

It's not a game for everyone, but if you like these kind of projects, it deserves at least 4 stars.
It's not the sort of game I'd review imho. It...isn't really a game. I don't know what to call it, but it isn't really a game.
Why not?

no random battles
You know you're in for some real intellectual stuff when the title of a review has "WTF?" in it. Good job, professor.

By the way, I actually understood what was going on in Donnie Darko. I'd say it was still the most goddamn movie I've ever seen, but the original Japanese version of Pulse felt like it won't end and I'm fairly sure I felt asleep at some point watching it. It was so unbearably dull.

author=yamata no orochi
The thing about The Mirror Lied: It's basically the Donnie Darko of RPG Maker games.
I wouldn't say that. The writer of Donnie Darko had a solid plot and focus that drove the film. Although it was done ambiguously, there was a definite story behind it, linking every significant event to the whole.
Reives has admitted that there is no story behind his game, they are all just seemingly random (apart from the nuclear bomb/birdy situation which apparently did have some thought put into it) events pieced together with no real direction, which is what made the ending such a cop-out. It's all well and good to leave the player in a state of curiousness, taking all the bizarre events and attempting to piece it together in some sort of meaningful way but knowing that none of the events had any significance/linkage to one another sort of ruins the entire concept.

Saying that, i actually really liked this game when i played it (which was a very long time ago), I thought the atmosphere was great. Was just a huge let-down to find out there was no real thought put into the story as a whole.
I have to agree with Max's interpretation. I had this one sitting around for the past year or so, so I decided to try it tonight.

While I was initally confused, I got the feeling that our faceless heroine (Leah) was alone in her own world. There are vague clues thrown in, but not enough to really make any coherent sense. So here is my interpretation on this. She had some sort of disease (perhaps terminal) as shown through the microscope and would rather die than live. However, she did not have the courage to do so, and felt trapped in her world. The bird might have been a symbol of freedom for her, and when she finally climbed the plant in the end, she was able to find that freedom, which empowered her to kill herself.

Edit: I thought about this awhile, and maybe this would have made more sense had the title been "Bye Bye, Sweet Birdie", or something of the sort. This would drive the player's focus on the bird as the symbol, and create the interpretation that our heroine really is trying to free herself from the confines of the physical world. Of course, then, people would play it, nod their heads, and move on. Calling it "The Mirror Lied" causes deeper thought, as people are trying to understand what part of the story represents a mirror, and how this all connects.

In any case, I was suddenly reminded of a song from 2nu (Ponderous), which makes almost as much sense as this game, and yet I still love that song to this day. So to anybody who wonders... the answers must be in the eyes of the beholder.

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