Author: Emily Short
Development System: Inform
Cruelty Rating: Merciful
Length of Play: 15 minutes
My Rating: 6
Awards: Best Individual NPC — 2000 XYZZY Awards
Galatea is an impressive piece of coding of an art critic interacting with a statue. Around the turn of the century there were many games that tried to create incredibly in-depth characters that would respond to anything, not to mention Scribblenauts, which tried to allow for a near infinite amount of actions. Of all in this genre I’ve tried, Galatea is the most successful at being interesting; yet, the shine wears off quickly and I stopped caring quicker than I thought possible.
Short is a superb writer, and her ability to write engaging dialogue with a statue still makes me jealous. The perspective she creates is infinitely interesting and I wanted to find as many conversation topics as possible to just hear more of what Galatea had to say.
Unfortunately, the game quickly turns into an exercise of trying to find as many endings as possible (of which there are 70). While I enjoyed this premise in Aisle, I find it tiresome here as finding various endings requires repeating some dialogue options multiple times while purposefully trying to manipulate Galatea’s emotional state. At times it felt gross, and it didn’t help that the PC is mostly an unsympathetic snob.
I believe I would have enjoyed this much more if Short had allowed the player to focus more on exploring Galatea’s mind without worrying about triggering the next ending. In that case it could have been an extraordinary character study. As it stands it felt too much like I was playing with a gimmicky toy. Still, I would recommend everybody play this, if even for a brief time, just to experience the high concept.