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Libretta


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Rating: 4.5/5 (24 votes)
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Libretta

Dora[Mac user? Try freeware tool RPG Hub]

vgperson has been translating free indie horror adventures for years, but did you know they make games, too?Libretta follows a quiet girl names Libra, whose regular visit to her local library takes a turn for the strange when she discovers a book she's never seen before. Suddenly the familiar halls have changed, and Libra is lost, and to find a way out, she'll need your guidance to hunt for clues and solve creative puzzles using unique abilities and mechanics along the way in this creepy, surreal game.

LibrettaLibretta's controls are fairly standard, with the [arrow] keys to move, [spacebar] to interact, and the ability to save in specific locations, typically the open, blank green books. Don't neglect this, since it's possible to meet an unfortunate end. Tapping [Esc] twice will close the game, so watch out if you don't want to quit! Libretta's unique mechanic comes in the way the books you discover can shape reality by reading them. Occasionally different pages will have different effects, so if you make something happen that you want to stick, hit [X] or left [shift] and Libra will mark the page and close the book on it, effectively freezing whatever was on that page into reality, be it a wall or a change of temperature, for example. It's a clever mechanic that encourages you to think outside the box with your surroundings when you encounter a puzzle, and experimenting with the different changes is a lot of fun... you know, when you're not being chased by unsettling ambiguous shapes. Later, you'll even get a pencil that will allow you to change the content of certain books. You'll need to use a combination of deductive reasoning (not to mention riddle-solving) and these reality-altering techniques to progress through the game, though whether you get a good or bad ending will depend largely on a single question.

LibrettaLibretta's simplified sprites are surprisingly expressive, and the used of sound effects for everything from the turning of pages to the patter of dialogue makes it draw you in. While superficially it's about a girl lost in a strange and magical place while trying to escape, Libretta touches on deeper feelings and emotions that will resonate with a lot of people, without feeling as though it's beating you over the head with them. The tone strikes a great balance between some lighter moments or the inherent whimsy of some of the mechanics, and creepy scenes or effective jumpscares that work well with the atmosphere and story. It's very well written, and most of the puzzles are fun to solve, with a tendency to give enough nudges and hints to keep you from getting stuck. The downside is that not every one of Libretta's potential Game Over deaths are clearly telegraphed. Many of them come as a result of reading certain books to completion, and while some of these are obvious, others are more vague, and that can be pretty frustrating when you're trying to figure out a puzzle and are flipping through books you haven't seen before for clues or a way to change your environment. Save points are spaced out enough that you probably won't be set back far, but it's still an annoyance in an otherwise captivatingly creative little adventure. Libretta is neither oppressively dark or gory, making it a great choice for players who want something with just the right amount of spine tingles and a focus on puzzle-solving, though it does have some serious content in it, so please refer to vgperson's content warning on the download page if you have anything you would want to avoid. It'll take you a satisfying amount of time, and has more than a few surprises along the way. Libretta is an absolute pleasure to play, and well worth your time to do so.

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

9 Comments

Doesn't work on Windows 10.

Reply
AubsolutelyFine November 15, 2015 6:38 PM

David,

Worked for me. I did have to install DirectPlay first.

As for the game itself, I enjoyed it, but there was a bug during part of it. During the chapter with walkways in the sky, the floor would appear in places where it shouldn't. I would try to walk on them, and fall to my death. Fully closing the game (just going to the title menu did not fix it) would fix it for a short time, meaning that chapter was mostly me doing one thing, running to the save book, and re-launching the game. That was almost enough to make me just quit right there.

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I'm really sorry about that! Someone reported that bug earlier, and it should be fixed now that I added a sort of failsafe. It didn't do that on my computer, naturally, so it must be some quirk with the surfaces used to draw the floors.

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Also in that area, in the color puzzle, I seem to have somehow broken the number of glasses, such that I have the purple glasses on the right pillar and no other glass with which to use the yellow.

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My computer would ask for me to install DirectPlay whenever I opened the game, but it couldn't actually find it to install and then it would let me proceed without it anyway. I'm using windows 8, though.

I had that same problem with the floors in the Journey chapter! I thought it was intentional at first, like we were up a layer and could see walkways below, too, but then I had to restart the program fsr and it fixed it, temporarily, and I was like oh, I see.

I also had the same problem with the glasses, but that was fixed with a reload of the game, just by going to the menu and resuming.

Anyway, the game itself. (This got lengthy. Oops.)

When I saw that it was a game by vgperson I got pretty excited. Figured that someone who's translated so many well-known games of this sort would have a pretty good grasp of what kind of puzzles and stuff were entertaining. And I have to say, I was not disappointed on that front at all. The gameplay was really fun, nearly all of the puzzles were understandable and enjoyable. A lot of the puzzles later on made me laugh, too, for their cleverness. It was really fun to play through.

All of the little companion characters were super neat, too. I really got attached to them despite our short time with them; each one felt interesting and fleshed out even though you don't get to learn much about them. I had the urge to treat them well just because I felt like they deserved it. They were all so sweet... I want to spend more time with them. And I think they each served as good metaphors towards the meaning of the story, once you looked back on it.

The story on the whole had me interested and wanting to keep on playing ... but the ending kind of tripped me up. In complicated ways.

Like, on the one hand: I am absolutely stoked to see a game that handles this topic in the sort of way this one does. It gets so exhausting to have things mistreat trans people in their weak attempts to use them as plot points, especially trans women. Having Kay be definitively Kay and not even providing her birth name or anything was an excellent change of pace from the normal. And I'm really glad to see a trans girl like that get a happy ending! That's something that needs to happen waaaay more often. Letting you go back to the end and review all the messages from Kay with the knowledge you learn about her in mind is awesome, too, because those books were completely accurate to my and many of my friends' experiences with being trans.

On the other hand: It felt sort of abrupt, detached from the rest of the story. I didn't see the ... twist(? I wouldn't really call it that but I'm at a loss for what else to name it) coming, and I have trans goggles on at all times, I'm constantly decreeing characters to be trans people. It was kind of... Dumbledore-esque, though I hesitate to be that harsh about it, seeing as when the topic did come up it was handled excellently. Hm.

On the third hand: The ending aside from that felt like it didn't come from the story I had just experienced. I felt like I'd learned about a girl who struggled a lot with her peers and family and could only find real understanding & solace in her sister, and then at the end she... came back home and everything was fine? Her parents accepted and understood her even though she'd just told me they had been awful about it all? And the narrator character seems to agree with me on this point because she said something like "it didn't match up with what I remembered." So I feel like... is there a secret third ending that I'm not figuring out how to find, or...? The narration suggests it, the semi-'new game plus' thing suggests it... idk.

Overall, though, I really did enjoy this game. Fun & sweet & addressing a good topic in a good way. I'm just long-winded, oops.

tl;dr: Good stuff, good story, confusing endings, did I miss an end somehow??

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When I try to start the game, The mouse goes into a loading animation and nothing else happens.

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Steliferous December 17, 2015 5:19 AM

I'd like to leave a list here of all the secrets I could find in this game, since I couldn't find any other such list out there and I'd like to help people see everything this great game has to offer. vgperson offers a full walkthrough on the game's website, but leaves out the many secrets this game is packed full of. There will, of course, be huge spoilers for absolutely everything in the game, so you probably shouldn't read this until you've completed it.

Secrets in Libretta

Major Secrets

The Worst Ending

vgperson notes two endings on the walkthrough, but a third ending even worse than the bad ending is available. Here are the steps:
1. The trigger for this seems to be random, and is unrelated to actions in previous chapters. While in the Journey stage and using the flashlight to flip on the light switch and obtain the bucket, there is a chance that you will hear a small "click" before being able to turn on the light switch. If not, let the batteries run out and try again until you hear the click. If you hear the click and turn on the light switch without leaving the room, you will discover Kelly's dead body in the stall next door. Examine it and the note next to it. (This step is required to be able to see the other dead bodies.)
2. After solving the puzzle with the hairdryer and the bathtub, you will hear a loud THUMP upon leaving the room. Re-enter, and examine Kendall's body and note.
3. When you reach the room with a single mirror and a book, examine the mirror to learn that there is a light switch next to the door. Flick the switch off and on, then examine miK's body and note.
4. Exit and re-enter to mirror the room, and repeat the process, flicking the light off and on. Examine Kim's body and note.
5. If you've seen all the bodies, then after completing the game of death-shirigories with Inevit, you can interact with the book left outside the entrance. Unlike normal, a knife will be left behind after reading. Pick it up, despite the warnings.
6. Proceed as usual to the ending. When you get to the hallway where you must use up all your items to 'heal' the green books on your path, you can optionally attempt to use the knife instead for creepy flavor text. Soon after these hallways, you will begin to notice some major and fairly unpleasant changes. Have...fun?

Save a Certain Someone

Most likely, the shy girl blocking your way at the beginning of the Journey stage ended up dead on your first playthrough. You may assume that Kamille killed her to pass her, but in fact it is your reading of the white "Change" book that kills her. If you go through the cutscene with Kamille and then return to her without reading the book, she will let you through too, deciding that you must be a friend of Kamille's. She will also introduce herself to you, and tell you her name.

This does not appear to have any effect on the ending, but you can see her one more time later on, in the room where you pick up the red-rimmed glasses. You can see one extra bit of dialogue when talking to her alone, and then another when talking to her with Kamille following you.

This may not affect anything else later on, but...isn't it better this way?

Minor Secrets and Easter Eggs
Note: most of these allow you to see some sort of extra dialogue, or sometimes an event. I will not transcribe these in detail...you should play and experience them yourself!

Writing other names in the book: The second-to-last book in the game, where you are meant to write Kay's name, offers various responses to entering the names of other characters in the game. Here's a (possibly incomplete) list of all the names I could find. You'll have to play to see what the book says about them all! Names that give the same response are grouped together:
*Libra: the protagonist's name...well, not quite.
*Lauren: the protagonist's name.
*Kelly OR miK OR Kamille: pieces of her.
*Kendall OR Kim OR Change: pieces of help.
*Suzy: Lauren's sweetheart from her flashbacks with Kay.
*Inevit: the terrifying presence that, usually, you will only meet briefly for a terrifying game of shirigories.
*vgperson OR Kate: the creator of the game, pseudonym and actual name.
*Ky: an obsolete, hated name.
Entering any other text enough times will frustrate Lauren, and she will simply write in Kay's name herself.

-The Other Files: In the filing room, where you must search for the LSA file, certain other queries produce results. DLL, EXE, and TXT, all filetypes included with the game, give a response. SAV also provides a response, despite not being a type of file used by the game.

-Alternate Apples: Typically, after reading the apple-dropping book in Journey, one apple will drop next to you, and another near the next place where you'll see Kamille...the apples are clearly connected to you two. If you avoid this book and then read it when Kamille is following you, both apples will drop into the room next to you instead, with one bonking her on the head.

Easy Access: After completing the true ending, should you go back to the Libretta book in the epilogue and decide to redo everything despite the warnings...you may interact with it a second time to write in the name of a chapter to skip to that chapter, for easy access. You can input: Fuzzy (no actual effect..."skip" to the first chapter), Mirror (skip to the mirror chapter), Journey (skip to the sky chapter), or Libretta (skip to the final chapter).

Speechless: When Kamille asks you what your greatest fear is, you can press X instead of selecting an option, to indicate that you really can't say. Kamille will feel a little bit more in touch with you for this.

When will my reflection show...: If you take Kamille with you to a mirror (one is in the reversing room with a single book, the other is in the hairdryer/bathtub room) you will see someone else reflected in the mirror. The mirror in the hairdryer/tub room has slightly altered dialogue.

Wet Hair: After solving the "solution" puzzle and activating the rain, go back and examine the hairdryer.

Harmless Fuzzies: During your first encounter with the Fuzzy enemies, you can touch them with no harm, intriguing the protagonist. Don't attempt to cross the blockade they made in the lower-left, though.

Nonsensical Scale: After miK breaks the mirror and sets you free, you can go back up to the scale, and place different things on different sides. Apparently...2,000 pounds of bricks is somehow heavier than 2,000 pounds of feathers.

Kelly: Many dialogues and book descriptions change when you enter the normal library in the game's epilogue...but one of particular interest is a girl who, somehow, looks exactly like Kelly. Lauren seems just as confused about it as we are.

References to Other Games

These are from games that vgperson completed the English translation for. I'm fairly sure I'm missing a lot of these...

-Ib and Mary (from the game Ib) lookalikes can be seen arguing in the real library, discussing the logistics of the game and its ending.
-You can read "A Funny Story", which is a book found in The Witch's House. It's...not very funny.

I discovered these all myself, though it took a few posts on tumblr piquing my curiosity to make me go looking for that first secret.

I'm sure I probably missed something, so please let me know if you find anything else interesting!

Reply

Nice work VG!
This reminded me of Ib, which is one of my favorites.
I really like the understated, child-like style of the game in contrast with the rather heavy underlying themes. It is absolutely a game that makes a lot more sense upon a second playing.
This game is also listed under horror and while there are some horror elements, they are light. If you are a chicken usually, you can totally handle it :)

I have really appreciated your work on translating over the years and I'm glad to see a game of your own listed here (and it also gave me the opportunity to check out your body of work because of the links to your webpage).

It is absolutely a labor of love that the internet thanks you for - or at least, I do :)

Looking forward to seeing more of your original work!

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awkwardpanda January 23, 2016 10:19 AM replied to vamoosi

The trans ...imagery?(not sure how to describe it) is clearer if you replay the game or watch someone else do a playthrough after knowing about "the twist". There's a lot of stuff that hints at Kay being trans really subtly. Like if you look at the conversations between chapters again, you can tell that it's Kay and Lauren speaking, about stuff like Kay borrowing clothes from Lauren. And the way that Inevit(grrrrrr) uses "'she'" and "your [sister]" to refer to Kay.

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