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Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Warbler's Nest - A Review

Okay! It's time to review the first game! I'm excited! I've decided to review the entries based on their folder names in reverse alphabetical order. First up: "The Warbler's Nest". Hmm... Looks like we're going to be dealing with song birds? Maybe stealing some eggs and cooking them? I love omelets! Let's see if I'm right!

Note: This game is FULL of direct spoilers. DO NOT READ if you have not played the game.

The Final verdict: Creepy and enjoyable. I recommend!

The spoilery review after the jump:

Listed as a "dark fairy tale" (my favorite kind!) this is a nice solid piece of atmospheric dread! It's funny, I had been playing around with an game idea using the old legend of the goblin replacing the child with a changeling. Of course my idea was much less interesting than where Jason McIntosh went with it. My story was going to be about a trickster pretending to assist you in getting back your baby, and I don't think I'm letting the cat out the bag to say that the Trickster wouldn't have been able to be trusted!

But now that I've played THIS game, I see that "The Warbler's Nest" was a much simpler and much more intriguing way of handling the premise.

The game starts with you outside your cottage, surrounded by dark woods. You've been set with a task and you're grimly resolved to do it. What task, you ask? Well, ala Savoir-Faire or a variety of other games, as you explore your environment various things evoke a conversation you had with an old mentor?/tailor?/soothsayer? as a way of tricking the changeling that has taken the place of your child.

Sadly, this game does not feature muppets or David Bowie's crotch.

The bulk of the game is exploring the relatively small area around your house looking for items that might help you with it. Now, I'm not sure if I played this game properly because a lot of the premise is spelled out right at the beginning if you "LOOK AT THE REEDS" from the very beginning. But I didn't, and instead went off exploring on my own.

Which meant that the first fifteen minutes of the game, I was left with a palpable sense of paranoia and dread, much like the character. The game did an excellent job of putting me in the mindset of the character. I became convinced, just as she was, of the potency of fairy rings, and of dark shadows in the forest and the eerie unknown quiet in the house. I was certain something horrible was lurking there. Flashes of Little Otik came to my mind.

So near the end of the game when I became confronted with the little infant/monster I had to overcome all of the preconceptions I had built to that point. I came across two endings to the game, but I there might possibly be more. I became terrified near the end that I'd be allowed to fling the child out into the river and watch him drown, though returning to a save game I couldn't seem to reach that ending, if it is indeed an ending. (though you'd think it ought to be, considering that's the whole idea behind the plan you've spent most of the game working towards)

The word "fairy tale" is really an excellent red herring, because in reality the game is a fable about superstitions, but listing it as a "fable" would alert me right off that things were Not As They Seemed from the get go. From the very beginning, I bought the old man's story and the protagonists suspicions hook line and sinker, which made the ending all the more intriguing and emotional.

It is a short and modest game. And for some reason there isn't a hint system (though it's not a difficult game by any stretch), and if you want the walk through you have to go to the guy's website which I am not a big fan of (says the guy who's writing this on a website). It's pretty nicely implemented and I didn't notice any discernible bugs or odd responses throughout my experience, and the heavy use of incidental sounds throughout the adventure proved extremely  I got a little lost at the half-way point because I hadn't bothered to "EXAMINE THE REEDS" like any sane person would do at the beginning of the game, so I was a little flummoxed as to what the hell I was supposed to be doing, but all in all this game had nice atmosphere, an intriguing story, etc. Not too shabby for the first game in the bunch.

I'm going to give it a starting grade of 6, but I think it was very good. This will be the benchmark by which I measure other games, meaning they'll have to be even better if they're to get higher scores from this judge.


  1. I thought this was well-written, too, but I didn't think it had made it obvious enough that I had reached the bad ending. I threw the baby in the river, it said "The End", and I just thought: "Great! Job done!"

  2. Wow, I didn't think anyone would actually go through with the whole "throw the baby out with the bath-water" ending. Your sick mind has proven me wrong. For shame. For shame!!!

  3. But the game was blatantly lying! It was just, like, "The baby is a changeling", "The baby is a changeling", "The baby is a changeling" and I was, like, "O.K. If you say so."

    I don't know... Too subtle for me, I guess.