Fingerbones


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Rating: 3.8/5 (72 votes)
| Comments (8) | Views (7,832)

Fingerbones

DoraWARNING: This game contains themes you may find disturbing. Consider this a potential trigger warning for things implied. Please see my author's comment below for more detail hidden behind spoiler tags if you are concerned.

Despite its sunlit appearances, David Szymanski's Fingerbones is one of those horror games that sets you on edge right from the beginning. It's just you in a hushed, mostly empty room, dust motes dancing in the light filtering in through the windows... and the knives driven into the table next to the note left atop it. The only direction you're given is the most basic... use [WASD] to move, and the mouse to look around and interact. Progress depends on having a keen eye for detail, on spotting clues, sometimes hidden in plain sight. There's no save function, so be sure you have the time to commit before you sit down, although once you figure out what to do, Fingerbones is on the short side. Oh, and be sure to have your sound turned up... that's absolutely crucial.

A lot of horror stories talk about a feeling of "wrongness" to a place, but few games have managed to capture that as easily and as quickly as Fingerbones. It's the way its soundtrack is more than just music, audio that subtly changes as you move and explore. The still and silent environment, broken only by moving shadows and dust motes... and... of course... the notes. Fingerbones is, more than anything else, a sort of abstract psychological narrative, and the way just a few sentences will start making your skin crawl the more you explore is remarkable. All that being said, however, Fingerbones is definitely not a game you want to play if you're at all adverse to human horror. It's the sort of thing that can make your heart feel heavy the longer you play it, as you start to get an idea of what you're going to find at the end. Most of it is implied rather than outright stated or, thankfully, shown, but the themes here are definitely dark in a way that goes beyond the blood and violence in most horror games. Whether you feel that makes it out of bounds is entirely up to you.

On the gameplay side of things, however, though Fingerbones is relatively straight-forward, there can also be times when it's unintuitive. That buzzing sound from the computer, for instance, isn't actually a "wrong code, sucker" tone, and having to s-l-o-w-l-y trek around to see what else has been activated or to revisit an area to look for something you might have missed can be very tedious. Codes wind up making up for the bulk of any sort of puzzle solving, and some of them can be quite sneaky in the way that they're stated. Fingerbones is best approached as a sort of interactive short story, and the ending may leave some people confused, but if you relish some disturbing atmosphere and masterful use of sound, this is well worth the creepy-crawly feeling you'll be left with at the end.

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Walkthrough Guide


(Please allow page to fully load for spoiler tags to be functional.)

Walk through

Walk to the far corner of the room. There is a flashlight sitting on the knocked over file cabinet. Click on it to pick it up.

Go to the opposite corner. There is a switch on the generator to turn it on.

Go to the keypad near where you found the flash light. It is gently glowing red. Enter the password found from the notes.

katie

Head into the unlocked basement. Searching the notes will give you the next password.

lynn

Go enter the new password.

The basement door is now unlocked. Searching it there is another locked door and notes hinting to the password to unlock that one.

lynn backwards: nnyl

Go enter the new password.

Enter the now unlocked door in the basement. There is a switch on the left wall. Hit it.

There is now an open alcove on the main floor containing a note and the last password to the cellar.

Freedom

Enter the cellar and head into the end. Read the note.

8 Comments

I've got the first two codes:

katie

and

lynn.

I can't get the next one. I know

it ends (?) in "nny" and he's having sex with his daughter.

Reply

@ injygo

About the third code...

You are correct that part of the code is missing, but,...

not the first part.

Look at what you already have.

From a different angle perhaps?

"Lynn" ... "nny?"

Reply

Walk through

Walk to the far corner of the room. There is a flashlight sitting on the knocked over file cabinet. Click on it to pick it up.

Go to the opposite corner. There is a switch on the generator to turn it on.

Go to the keypad near where you found the flash light. It is gently glowing red. Enter the password found from the notes.

katie

Head into the unlocked basement. Searching the notes will give you the next password.

lynn

Go enter the new password.

The basement door is now unlocked. Searching it there is another locked door and notes hinting to the password to unlock that one.

lynn backwards: nnyl

Go enter the new password.

Enter the now unlocked door in the basement. There is a switch on the left wall. Hit it.

There is now an open alcove on the main floor containing a note and the last password to the cellar.

Freedom

Enter the cellar and head into the end. Read the note.

Reply

The ending is... confusing.

After the last note, there is some text about being "free in the cellar", then that fades away and it's just black. No "game over". I assume that *is* the end?

Reply

You know, I think this genre has sort of overstayed its welcome. Unless a game's doing something really interesting visually, like TRIHAYWBFRFYH, it's not really worth playing to me.

Yes, interactive fiction can be a great medium for delivering a unique, compelling story (this was not one). But when "interactive fiction" devolves into "walking around reading scraps of paper," I think I'd rather be "sitting down reading scraps of paper." Otherwise known as a book.

Reply
korvarthefox March 25, 2014 8:01 PM

Puzzles weren't very puzzling, a lot of wandering back and forth at a slow walking pace, and the story was disturbing without actually being terribly interesting. Ending is vague rather than intriguingly ambiguous.

Really, I had an idea of where it was going to go from the first note you read.

Reply

Dora, can I just thank you a million times for putting in that trigger warning? As someone with anxiety who occasionally likes pushing myself to play games that are a little bit stressful, I may have given this one a shot and that would have been a Very Bad Thing for me.
Thanks for putting out the information so that people can make an informed decision about whether this would be appropriate for them. I wish more of the review industry would put out trigger warnings when this type of content is in a reviewed game.

Reply

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