IFComp 2019 review: Faerethia

spoilers follow

Faerethia doesn’t look like it, but in a sense it’s actually a mystery game.

You begin the game in Faerethia, exploring this game-space that feels like a timeless utopia: a feeling of infinite permissiveness, no limits, life without death. Which raises the questions: what is this place, how did it come to exist, and how did you get here?

Between your continuing explorations of Faerethia, the game leads you through a series of very different narratives that begin to give you clues to the mystery.

(This is where Faerethia uses its simple but elegant Twine styling to great advantage: different fonts and background colors are used to differentiate the various narratives.)

Over the course of the game, you spend time in Plato’s cave:

You play a delightfully retro lemonade stand simulator:

Unfortunately, your lemonade stand business lasts just two rounds before a fully automated robot lemonade megacorp crushes your dreams (literally):

You also make an important but incremental mathematical discovery, design your own Personal Paradise(TM), conduct an interview with the first sentient computer, observe the moments before your own death and the uploading of your consciousness…

And in the end, of course, you are back in Faerethia. You have answers to some of the questions you started the game with, but you also have an entirely new set of questions. (Is there a self? Is the self in Faerethia the same self that once existed in a human body? Are the consciousnesses in Faerethia machine or human? Is simulated happiness meaningful? If so, what is justified for the sake of maximizing total happiness?)

Faerethia brushes up against lots of ideas–Plato’s cave, the end of capitalism, utilitarianism, and simulation theory–and allows the reader/player to engage with those ideas on their own terms. Thought-provoking, witty, insightful, philosophical but accessible: very much worth playing!

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