Tale of Tales’ Fatale
Reviewed by Nov 4th, 2009

Sometime last spring I coughed up ten bucks to buy The Path, also by Tale of Tales. I later played The Graveyard and The Endless Forest, as well. Tale of Tales’ work tends to polarize people quite a bit. Some say it’s boring and pretentious crap, others think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I can sort of see both sides of this, and some of the games require a lot of patience and perhaps a certain temperament to appreciate them.

In any case, you can’t just talk about the games when talking about the games, because they are more experiences than they are games. The Endless Forest was an interactive environment; The Path was based on Little Red Riding Hood. Fatale is based on the story of Salome in the Bible, but moreso on Oscar Wilde’s version of the story, his play, Salome. This shows up mostly in text excerpts in the first area of the game.

One thing you can’t really complain about is the price. The Graveyard was more or less free, with an added scene if you paid $5; The Path cost $10; and Fatale costs $7, payable via paypal on the website. It’s about 139 Mb. Go here to buy it or for the system requirements.

Fatale is in first person perspective, but before you reach for the Dramamine, it’s designed to minimize motion sickness. That’s reassuring, I guess.

The gameplay, while minimal, deserves some mention. There are, more or less, three levels: the cistern, the terrace, and in the sunlight. The first is a dark area where your only instructions are “wait for the end.” This isn’t quite descriptive of what you need to do, but it’s close enough. You wander around and see some things, then it ends. The terrace is a moonlit area which seems to go on forever. You can see a city in the distance, but your objectives are all in the terrace area, and they all involve extinguishing lights and looking around.

After what seems like an eternity spent doing this, the view shifts and you are given the option to quit. I thought I was supposed to be doing something here, and cursed at the screen when I accidentally (or so I thought) clicked on “quit.” As it turns out, that is your only option here. I guess that is one of the odd things about the game. You have to quit here and then restart to see the epilogue.

There are a lot of similarities to previous ToT games, and a lot of differences. The textures and modeling is nicely stylized as always, and the lighting effects are very nice. The “gameplay” seems purposely repetitive and frustrating. You sort of do the same things over and over, with little in the way of rewards, knowing full well that you will never see your seven dollars or that hour of your life again. Is it worthwhile? I thought it was, but I can also see how people could dislike this, and any ToT game, really. Like The Path, this is another Slow Game. They’re really into that genre. They may, in fact, be the creators of that genre. While it’s also very nice to look at, I found it a lot less compelling than The Path. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure it’s something I’d play repeatedly.

Is it a game? As in The Graveyard, it’s difficult to say. It is perhaps a game-like art piece. I’m not sure about the anti-game sentiments some place on these games. If the team truly hated games, I don’t think they would be making art games in a game format. Certainly, they challenge the idea of what a game should be, and how a game should be played. Doors don’t open. Interaction is limited. You do a lot and it often feels like you don’t get much of a reward. Very little is explained. It is more of an interactive environment, though you do at least have objectives in the terrace level. Visually, it’s very nice. There are sun and moonlight effects, graininess filters, flowing garments, and candles everywhere. It’s a unique experience, with a bit more of a mysterious feel to it than The Path had.

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