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Fatale, the latest interactive experience from Tale Of Tales (The Path), lets players literally explore Oscar Wilde’s play “Salome.” After a striking opener, you end up on a kind of stage. but instead of watching the drama, you’re exploring it after the fact; you float through the tableau as a ghost, studying the actors, the veils, and of course, the head of John the Baptist. The utterly gorgeous game captures an exotic setting, but a few modern elements invite a wider set of associations—for example, the pick-up bar matchbook with “CALL ME—SALOME” written on it. Players are expected to bring their own perspective to what they discover, but naturally, the beautiful Salome is the star, and your brief interactions with her are sensuous. Only the fiddly, non-intuitive controls hamper the experience—and the stellar character design, original music, and choreography more than compensate…
Ik kan nog veel woorden vuil maken aan het beschrijven van Fatale, maar dit ga ik niet doen. Fatale is namelijk iets dat je zelf moet meemaken. Hier moet je wel even over nadenken, want je kunt het spel beter links laten liggen als je het verhaal van Salomé niet kent of niet geïnteresseerd bent om dit te visualiseren. Mensen die dit echter wel eens willen beleven kunnen Fatale voor maar zes euro downloaden. Op het forum van Tale of Tales wordt met veel lof over de beleving die Fatale aanbiedt gesproken en ik ben het hier deels mee eens. Het project had naar mijn mening echter wel beter kunnen uitpakken. Het implementeren van iets meer interactie en verhaal had het spel voor mij wat leuker gemaakt, maar dit was waarschijnlijk niet de visie van de ontwikkelaar.
Then, after a terrifying demise, you’re manoeuvring through the 3D space above your prison – extinguishing a series of flames with holy ghost power and admiring beautifully created still-life scenes of nudey women. Your eyes will roll, high and often, at Fatale’s clever-clever pretensions and brevity – but it’s undeniably an interesting, surprising and oddly haunting experience.
And yet despite all that, you may find that you can't quite forget Fatale, that you come back to its problems, its frustrations, and its ambiguities even when the memories of more fully-realised games have faded. Trapped somewhere between survival horrors and full-blown gallery installations, Tale of Tales remains a fascinating studio. Intimidating and ponderous, its games often feel stunted and incomplete, certainly, but they still manage to trail long shadows behind them.
It's not really a game, it takes less than an hour to play, and the controls are frustrating. But Fatale is still worth playing. If you have even a passing interest in games as an art form, it's a half an hour you should not miss out on. Just be sure you can deal with the game's many flaws. But for everyone else, this is most likely a game that will be both confusing and frustrating, and not particularly fun in the traditional sense.
It’s important to ram that point home for Fatale. Tale of Tales’ previous games haven’t been games either, but they’ve stayed fairly close to them. The Path wasn’t a game, but it could function as one – it gave you choices, freedoms and a more explicit structure and sense of narrative. Fatale doesn’t. If you considered that The Path was an interesting off-shoot or branch of traditional games then you should know that Fatale isn’t simply separated from the main trunk of gaming – it’s an entirely different tree.
Every once in a while, I come across a game that I hate with such intensity that I don’t feel bad in the slightest about hurting anyone’s feelings. In the world of indie gaming, where development teams can usually fit in a Volkswagen and often read every review of their baby, you must really understand how much I dislike Fatale: Exploring Salome to even discuss it. While developers Tale of Tales describe it more as an interactive experience than a game, that doesn’t excuse the fact that I was bored out of my mind the thirty wasted minutes I spent “playing” it. Maybe I should back up.