Tag Archives: Sam Barlow

Telling L!es

Publisher: Annapurna
Developer: Downing a Mermaid Productions & Furious Bee Ltd.
Year: 2019
Platform: Windows, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Mac, iPad, iPhone

Rating: 8

Has it really been almost five years since I reviewed Her Story? Sheesh, I’m getting old. Back then I said I was looking forward to Sam Barlow’s next project. I think I forgot about that as I didn’t discover Telling Lies until about 18 months after its release. Still, it was very much worth the wait.

Mild spoilers under the break. You might enjoy the game more knowing nothing about it.

Continue reading Telling L!es

Aisle

Author: Sam Barlow
Year: 1999
Development System: Inform
Cruelty Rating: Merciful
Length Of Play: One-Move Game

My Rating: 7

Awards: Best Use of Medium — 1999 XYZZY Awards

Perhaps the first serious game that would automatically end after one move. The premise is quite simple as you play an ordinary man in an ordinary supermarket who has stopped in the pasta aisle next to a woman who is also shopping. There are exactly 136 possible moves you can make that produce 136 separate endings. There is neither a puzzle nor a plot, and one would be hard pressed to say this is even a character study, as some of the endings’ portrayal of your character’s history contradict each other.

I do wish there was something more here to unravel, but as it stands this is quite a pleasant diversion thanks to the imagination and quality writing of Sam Barlow. More importantly, Aisle inspired many future authors in experimenting with the genre, including a few entertaining games that mimic this one.

I still come back and play Aisle about every five years. There’s just something about the protagonist’s world view that makes me smile.

Her Story

Publisher: Self-published
Developer: Sam Barlow
Year: 2015
Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

Regrettably as the older I’ve become, the less effort I’ve found myself willing to put into playing computer games. I prefer to blame the time constrictions of maturation: fatherhood, home ownership, Netflixing with my better half. Ultimately, however, the greatest factor is my waning patience with gratification. This extends to all forms of media; if I have to wait longer than five minutes for stimulation, my interest wanders. Thus, the piled up bin of pilot episodes (sorry Nurse Jackie), second chapters (you too The Girl Who Played with Fire), and barely played computer games (maybe later Quest for Glory 2) awaiting continuation but more likely relegated to eternally gathering dust. Despite this I’m also not looking for cheap and unsatisfying thrills (I’m looking at you Angry Birds). Her Story may be my panacea, motivating me not only to play through its story, but also to forge on and try other games that have been sitting on my virtual shelf for far too long.

Continue reading Her Story