Noah Webster's Verdict: Alack! I am here, I am available. My work lives on. I beg of thee, Rybread, use me. For I shall spin in my grave over the fact that your piece of interactive fiction... has a misspelled title.
The net.savvy Veteran's Verdict: People who get all erect over incorrectly spelled words need to justify their existence.
My Verdict: A great example of an idea that text adventures are wholly unprepared to deal with.
(Attention. This review contains a critical spoiler for this game.)
Rybread Celsius is, of course, an insane literary genius. And I don't casually throw that word around. Really, there are only three other true intellectual masterminds in the two million years since humans have walked the earth. They are:
The poor, forgotten italian that invented the pepperoni pizza.
The poor, forgotten american vice-president that ran with William Jefferson Clinton and invented the internet.
The poor, forgotten caveman that found cavewoman and invented the hummer.
So Rybread is in good company there.
You have to respect the guy, because he has grown up writing computer games for the entire world to see that are usually fundamentally flawed, have characteristically poor spelling, and ridiculed almost universally. However, he's not content to lurk and polish his material for a fickle and demanding audience. He's the text equivalent of an intentionally radio unfriendly punk band and therefore, without question -- hipper than thou.
Symetry is a work about a night where Lovecraftian-inspired dread sneaks upon a player safe and warm within a canopy bed. And, with all authors inspired by H.P., Celsius is still a vastly more competent writer. It may have something to do with the fact that Celsius has seemingly little interest to come off as a cruelly racist misogynist. Possibly, natch.
It's impossible to further discuss the game without spoiling it, so do yourself a favor right this minute and head over to ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/inform/ and pick up the game reflect.z5. Thank you. Review continues.
The problem is that there is no easy way to tell a parser "I want to stab myself on the right part of my chest." OK. Yes. One could hard-code a response for that very sentence. But you have to, in effect, spend a week bug-testing it against specific player responses. Someone may type "stab my right chest." Or maybe just "kill me." Ergo, the inherent weakness of this game is that a great idea (since your actions are reflected, a right-side piercing stabs the entity in the mirror's heart) is almost impossible to successfully implement. A graphical adventure may be able to do it, but it would require a heavy text parser for Celsius to otherwise set the mood. It's almost as if Celsius is straining against the limits of the medium to get to where he needs it to be.
(I should note that the removing of the gown is almost the very definition of a non-intuitive leap in logic -- what stiletto is going to be able to go through a sternum yet get stuck on a dressing gown? Please send the results of all such experiments to firstname.lastname@example.org before calling 911. Massive blood loss often leads to mediocre typing, so make that your top priority.)
Symetry, then, becomes an interesting experiment only when you are presented with the walkthrough. The prose, once you chill and forgive the spelling mistakes, is interesting enough, but would definitely be better served by more background and expansion. In effect, more Rybread.
Rybread Celsius is chock-full of ideas to express and things to say. Hopefully, he will continue to refine the delivery of his messages and programming skill. He will one day get it completely correct and release an absolute masterpiece and, accepting that, he has decided to let us watch him mature along the way. It takes an enormous amount of sac to do so, and for that he should be applauded.
Simple Rating: 6.5 / 10
Story: 6.8 / 10
Writing: 6.0 / 10
Playability: 2.5 / 10
Puzzle Quality: 1.0 / 10
Parser Responsiveness: 1.0 / 10
Be...I mean Fred sprach the following on September 29th, 1999
Bullcrap. Rybread Celsius is the Jim Theis of IF. "Gate of teath" indeed.
This game sucks, RC sucks, and you suck, for pandering to him.
Robb sprach the following on October 4th, 1999
My review of this game is based on a few assumptions. #1 -- Rybread didn't totally and completely lift this idea from some other source. If he did then yeah, nuts to Das Celsius and I need to read more. However, I'm presuming that's not the case. #2 -- What you read on his home page is more or less the truth. If, in fact, he is not a kid growing up and making it through high school nee college and, instead, is some 41 year old guy playing a colossal joke on guys who dig games without pictures, then again -- my bad.
However, I don't think either of those two things are the case. As I've said before, I have a serious problem with anyone that would mercilessly shred an IF writer who is not collecting cash for his or her work. Therefore, if I'm going to review their work it's up to me to constructively critique it. The beginning of an idea that Rybread had IS cool, but it is just that: a germ of an idea that could effectively be made into a longer, more detailed game. In the meantime the kid has enough testicles to release his games for the entire world to see. That is ballsy, and it's definitely something that I personally would not do. If we all had to make a prediction; put our money on one guy currently involved in IF that would eventually mature to the point where he or she will develop an absolute classic... well my Gammons would be on Rybread. He's already proven that he has the imagination and creativity to make something interesting, symbolic and disturbing. Programming technique and proper spelling can be taught. You can't, however, ever instruct someone on having something to say.
Lastly. Who is Jim Theis?
Quentin D. Thompson sprach the following on December 21st, 1999:
Jim Theis? AFAIK, he's the author of a dreadfully overblown sci-fi story, "The Eye
Of Argon", which was once voted "Worst SF Story Ever" or something.
You can grab a _hilarious_ MiSTing of it at http://adamcadre.ac/hiwriting.html; Alanis Morissette fans please abstain. ;)
Ted M sprach the following on October 2nd, 2000:
I'd like to point out that Rybread's oft-maligned title is actually exquisitely perfect.
Precisely because it's misspelled, "Symetry" becomes a brilliantly subtle clue. It connotes *imperfect* symmetry -- as in the mirror, which reverses outer actions right/left, but fails to correspondingly reverse the internal organs. And this is an achievement that Plotkin, Cadre or Graham Nelson could never pull off -- the minute *they* misspell a word, everybody'd be all over it, scrutinizing it for hidden meanings. But Rybread made the supreme sacrifice and devoted *years* to creating an online persona with the appearance of semiliteracy, for which he has received no small amount of ridicule, all so he could hide this ingenius clue in plain sight right in his game's title! That's dedication to one's art.
What a gem! Long live Symetry!
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