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Options Reviews 

Author: David Whyld
Date: 2005
ADRIFT 4.0


Reviewed by A Ninny

Basic Plot:

This is the third installment in the series of games that also includes Choices and Decisions. You once again play Melissa and are working to solve the mysteries of the ever enigmatic Susan Harris, your lesbian lover, who has disappeared under suspicious circumstances.

Overall Thoughts:

My reactions to this game are mostly informed by several obvious aspects of it, namely that it is a gamebook, and I'm not really enamoured of the format (more on that in Gameplay section); and that it is so big and involved that I only managed to actually see a fraction of it, despite several attempts. Having pointed out those things, I have to say that I did enjoy most of Options. It is well-written and the story, at least the first half, is smart and immersive. I think David got carried away with trying to make the story surreal in the latter portions of the story, and that is where I thought it became weaker. The early part of Options is very involving. You're sucked in to the mystery of Susan's past and why she has disappeared. You investigate seedy bars and meet dangerous, desperate characters. It all seems like it's going in a certain direction - dark detective fiction with porn thrown in for good measure. The transformation into the really dark surreal fantasy that it becomes is abrupt, and, I think, ill-explained.

Puzzles/Gameplay:

The strengths and weaknesses of the Gamebook format have been discussed at length in reviews of the earlier entries in the series, and still hold true in Options. The main strength is that it's very straightforward to play. You simply choose from two or more options as to how you want to proceed at the end of each block of text. In the more cohesive sections of the game, I believed that I could make informed decisions as to what I wanted to do. But once the game entered the more surreal parts, I was just making wild guesses - nothing in the text really seemed like it gave me anything to go on as to what to choose. In some cases, the story hearkened back to Choices and Decisions. Perhaps if I had played those games more thoroughly, I would have had a better idea of the best options to select.

The Gamebook format also makes it necessary to replay the game - if you want to see a majority of it, that is. You'll never see everything unless you do, nor will you discover how to get the multiple better endings.

Sex:

This has been commented on before, but bears repeating: there's very little interactivity in the sex, due to the format. I knew that going in, so I wasn't surprised. The sex sections in the game are mostly shorter scenes scattered at regular intervals. They're well written and fairly detailed. One rape scene in the game I thought was more detailed and explicit than almost anything I'd read from this author in the past.

Technical:

David Whyld released a patched up version of the game, and that is what this review is based upon. I didn't note any inconsistencies or bugs, just a few minor grammatical and spelling errors.

Final Thoughts:

Options is a deeply considered, complicated (almost convoluted) story, a big game that requires a lot of attention and time; it's a dark, surreal fantasy with odd plot twists; it's a character study of people at their most desperate. Finally, it's fun, but it's a lot of work.

Rating: B

 


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