If you've ever said to yourself, "Self, I wonder what a puzzle platformer designed by MC Escher, narrated by the Cranberries, illustrated by a cartoonist, and then violently beaten with a hammer would look like," well, wonder no longer my curious specific friend, because GroZZleR's Fractured is here to serve. Use the [arrow] keys to move and jump and eventually unite our ballcapp'd little lad with the floating pink specter on the screen even though that sounds exactly like something that should be a scary Doctor Who episode. The catch? Though it starts out slowly, each level becomes, as the title suggests, progressively more fractured... broken into pieces strewn haphazardly around the screen at odd angles. Though you'll still be able to move from piece to piece, the controls change depending on your orientation where you come out into the new one, and trying to decipher the lay of the land when the land looks like a jigsaw puzzle someone took the scissors to then had a temper tantrum with is harder then you might think. Especially since there is no level select, so finish the game all in one go or you'll have to start over.
Fractured is a very neat idea, and it's always great to see people trying to innovate. For the most part, it pulls off its concept well, though it does sort of feel like a slightly more topsy-turvy Continuity and the oppressive atmosphere and poetry are... intense. In a way, Fractured feels like the start of a bigger idea, and a follow-up with more elements at play in the levels to really force you to use your brain would be fantastic. What exists is still quite clever, however, and it's surprising how tricky mentally assembling a puzzle can be. It's sort of the platforming equivalent of a tongue-twister. Only for your eyes. And your hands. And your jam poetry sessions.
I'm trying to figure out what the story is supposed to be. I've transcribed the verse:
I hope and pray that I will find
The child that I have left behind
For as I hear the madness gloat
A frightened scream rips from my throat
A child's love, with blind ambition
Against my panicked admonition (note: "admonition" means "warning")
Into the heart of evil's lair
I battle on, without despair
And search and wander as I might
I see no ending to my plight
There is no point in searching more
For I'm the one he's searching for
Here's my current theory on the matter (keep in mind that, like all literary analyses and theories, this has lots of potential to be wrong):
We know of two characters: The Protagonist and The Ghost. In every level, The Protagonist's goal is to reach The Ghost; when he does, the screen reassembles itself and The Protagonist gets knocked off the screen unceremoniously.
The tertiary characteristics suggest that The Protagonist is male, and The Ghost is female. Between the poem being read in a female voice and the use of the male third person pronoun in the last line, I gather that the poem is told from The Ghost's point of view, and the "he" is The Protagonist.
"The child that I have left behind" is The Protagonist. I theorize that The Ghost is the late mother of The Protagonist, who cannot accept his mother's passing. The thematic fracturing of each level represents The Protagonist's lack of sanity due to the trauma of losing his mother; the levels getting more and more scrambled further in represent his ever-slipping sanity. This could also explain the "madness" in the third line. The reassembling of the level at its end represents his sudden snap back to sanity just when he thinks he's found her again.
The fifth and six lines suggest that The Ghost is trying to get The Protagonist to give up, accept her death, and move on, for fear that he will kill himself just to be with her again. The seventh and eight lines suggest The Ghost is directly battling The Protagonist's insanity, and the ninth and tenth lines suggest it's a losing battle; it doesn't explain why it's told like she herself is looking for something, though.
On the last story level, The Protagonist has no choice but to jump into the void, as The Ghost is well out of his reach. This could mean one of two things: either he really does go ahead with the suicide to be with her again, or he finally accepts reality and moves on. I can't quite say which.
the Ghost starts out searching for her child in the belief she can protect him. Then, as she watches him go deeper into madness and take greater risks, realises the destructive nature of this impulse, and wishes him to move on. Or something.
Holy pretentiousness, Batman!
�Analysis destroys wholes. Some things, magic things, are meant to stay whole. If you look at their pieces, they go away.� - Robert James Waller
Take that quote of the day calendar!
One mechanic they don't mention, and that only becomes important to know once you get to the bonus levels, is that while the character can't double-jump, he CAN walk off a platform and then use his single jump in midair. There's one bonus level in particular that can only be completed if you know this. I don't think it really comes into play during any of the main levels though.
While I don't have anything against overly psychological things with deep poetry etc, I do think the visual design doesn't match the rest.
I had to turn the sound off. I hated the whispery voice reading the poem.
I didn't like the end
where the child completely disappeared.
Seems like there could have been a more upbeat story behind the splintering.
I did find the gameplay fun.
Wow. It really is narrated by The Cranberries. (OK, no it isn't, but it really sounds that way.)
I was ready to be really disconcerted by the way the review said "the controls change depending on your orientation where you come out into the new one". But that's actually completely wrong: the key thing that makes this playable is that the controls don't change. Just form a vague mental model of where the platforms might be, and the controls are completely constant and unchanging. It'd be a lot harder if you had to press, say, down-left to make what will be revealed to be a rightwards jump from a fragment that happens to be upside down.
Anyway, this was a fun little diversion, with surprisingly good audio work.
(@zbeeblebrox: I didn't find I had to jump in midair in any of the bonus levels?)
I don't know, SonicLover.
The seventh and eight lines suggest The Ghost is directly battling The Protagonist's insanity, and the ninth and tenth lines suggest it's a losing battle; it doesn't explain why it's told like she herself is looking for something, though.
I thought that if the mother is trying to help him, she has not found anything. When she realizes he's searching for her, she realizes "there's no point in searching more" because there is no way she can help in. Perhaps watching as he commits suicide.
This is just pretentious. Why are you analyzing this?
Well, NONE, I'd imagine because people enjoy finding and sharing their own personal interpretations of things that get them thinking even if other people don't feel the same way... just as you're free not to analyze it yourself. :)
Using the interpretation of SonicLover and the events in Fractured 3. I think at least the boy died when he tried to reach his deceased mother, since in Fractured 3 the boy is in the underworld