When you get yourself a kit for a bookshelf, or a model car, or a perpetual motion machine, do you carefully read the instructions, sort all the parts and pieces into easily accessible piles, and follow the directions with diligence and exactitude? Or do you dive in, confident that you can work out what needs doing without consulting stodgy manuals or schematics? If figuring out instructions on your own is as much fun for you as following them, you may enjoy This is a Work of Fiction, a suite of abstract riddle and puzzle games by Eli Piilonen with a conspiratorial vibe, where figuring out what to do is the heart of the gameplay.
Once you determine how to start This is a Work of Fiction, you may choose from among five categories of mini-games. You get no instructions or directions except for what controls to use, but you can always restart or return to the level selection screen if it is too confusing or difficult. Complete enough of these games, and you can play the next "round" or column of games, which are more difficult permutations of the same sorts of games. As you complete each level, you also gain access to several "documents," which may or may not be related to each other, or to the games you are playing.
Something about the presentation in This is a Work of Fiction reminds me of the Submachine series, with its collection of strange documents, its moody ambient soundtrack, and its focus on oblique puzzles surrounding murky motivations. Indeed, the presentation enforces the idea that there is something mysterious about these little games, which really drives you to unravel how they work. The one disappointment is that once you figure out how a type of game or puzzle works, the later rounds become less exciting and more tedious. Unravelling the point behind a type of game is fun, but playing harder versions of the same game is less fun if you have already figured out the point.
Still, if you like edgy atmosphere, mysterious trappings, and figuring things out without instructions, This is a Work of Fiction is well worth your time. Just be persistent, and don't let the paranoid ambiance get to you. It is a Work of Fiction, after all.