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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.
Libretta'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.
Libretta'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.
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