This game presents a dark re-interpretation of the fairy tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (here called dwarrows
), where the evil queen with the magic mirror is most likely a demon-possessed witch, her pale step(?)daughter likely also a witch or perhaps even a vampire, and even the loyal woodsman charged with executing her in the woods may be more than he seems. It is this last character controlled by the player, primarily navigating to one of the game's 18 different endings by traversing through a path of some of the game's 415 conversation fragments with Snow White as she awaits her fate at the player's hands.
As with Short's earlier magnum opus Galatea
, the most significant gameplay elements here are conversational in nature, the outcome of dialogue exchanges changing the moods of the characters and revealing new knowledge that informs the possible navigation and (minimal) inventory-manipulation options at the player's disposal. Extraordinary verbs furthering this unusual gameplay include TOPICS
, which proposes conversational threads to pursue, and THINK
, which tabulates the sum of the knowledge thus far achieved through the conversations completed. Upon game completion, the player can also invoke the ENDINGS
command to reveal which game conclusions have thus far been achieved -- some of which require more knowledge (derived from more conversation) than others.
A further feature of the game is its dynamic illustration engine, collaging picture elements automatically depending on the characters' moods.
- "Alabaster: An Interactive Experiment" -- Tag-lined title
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was a popular game at the 2009 XYZZY Awards
, taking home top prizes in the Best Writing and Best Individual NPC categories (Snow White being the character so honoured) as well as being a finalist in the Best Use of Medium category.