All the Delicate Duplicates

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All the Delicate Duplicates
Developer(s)
Producer(s)
  • The Space
  • One to One Development Trust - Dreaming Methods
  • Mez Breeze Design
Composer(s) Chris Joseph
Engine Unity
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release
  • WW: February 18, 2017
Genre(s) Psychological/Exploration Game
Mode(s) Single-player

All the Delicate Duplicates (or AtDD) is a single player first-person psychological/exploration game co-developed by Mez Breeze and Andy Campbell. Produced by The Space, One to One Development Trust - Dreaming Methods, and Mez Breeze Design, the game was published through Steam in February 2017.[1] It contains a non-linear story that's discovered through interactive elements and a text-based backstory.

Themes[edit]

Originally slated as a transmedia project called "Pluto",[2] All the Delicate Duplicates now has at its core a 3D gameworld. This gameworld blurs fantasy and the real world in a set of environments that question concepts of time, multiple realities, family dynamics, and quantum states, playing on the fact that perception is a crucial aspect of how we construct (what we know as) reality.[3][4]

Inspired by the possibilities of fiction, digital poetry and experimental digital art, All the Delicate Duplicates tells a complex psychological story through game engine technology. Developed from the ground up by digital artists/writers rather than traditional game developers, the work challenges traditional storytelling within games by spanning multiple time periods, incorporating animated and transitional texts as physical manifestations within the gameworld and leaving the story open to multiple revisits and interpretations.

The poetic, hybrid language Mezangelle forms a central part of the non-linear language in the game. It remixes the basic structure of English and computer code to create language where meanings are nested inside each other. Players need to read and re-read in order to piece together the narrative.

Plot[edit]

When single parent/computer engineer John inherits a collection of arcane objects, journals and sketches from an enigmatic relative named Mo, he confines them to his loft. Seeking inspiration for her school art class, John's daughter Charlotte accidentally uncovers these objects and journals, latching on to Mo's wild, surreal creativity and bizarre scientific theories with childlike obsession and wonder. Charlotte bombards John (who confesses he cannot remember Mo and knows nothing about her mysterious objects) with questions: Who was Mo? How did she die? Did she go insane? Why did she draw such weird pictures?

As Mo's odd possessions nestle their way into Charlotte's everyday existence, she becomes more challenging and rebellious. Forced to embark upon her own research, Charlotte eventually questions whether Mo really was the 'distant relative' her father claims. As John and Charlotte grow apart, both are forced to consider a new reality: that Mo may be more familiar to John than he admits.[5]

Reception[edit]

Since its release in February 2017, All the Delicate Duplicates has received generally favorable reviews with the current rating on Steam being 70% positive.[6] Defunct Games gave the game an "A" Rating, saying: "“Few games leave me speechless, but that's exactly what happened when I finished All the Delicate Duplicates…This is incredibly effective storytelling that will stick with you long after the credits roll",[7] that the game is "...better than Zelda"[8] and "It's a standout game. One of the year's best".[9]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun noted that the game contains: "...vibes of Gone Home, Firewatch and the like… there is also a smidgen of Kitty Horrorshow's eerie tales what with all the creepy ambient music, surreal landscapes and handwritten scrawls”.[10] Games journalist Aaron Richardson rated the game 9.3 out of 10 with a breakdown of scores 10 out of 10 for the story, 8 out of 10 for overall gameplay, 9 out of 10 for visuals and 10 out of 10 for replayability. In his N3rdabl3 review, Richardson wrote that All the Delicate Duplicates: "...has certainly left a mark. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with a game that I could see kick start a new form of storytelling.”[11]

When reviewing the game for Digital Fix, Jazz Moore comments on the experimental nature of the game by comparing it to Salvador Dali's painting ‘The Persistence of Memory’, and by stating: "Games such as these...test the waters by exploring new ways to present interactive experiences and weave narrative. Experimental games allow us to test the boundaries of what can be accomplished in this medium, in a way similar to interpretive dance or surrealist art". Moore goes on to rate All the Delicate Duplicates 8 out of 10 with the following summary: "Stunning and dramatic. You won't be able to look away as this story unfolds around you".[12]

In a February 2017 article published by GameNora, Scottish Games Reviewer Lauren Aitken scores All the Delicate Duplicates as 8 out of 10 and favorably compares the game with the television shows Stranger Things and The Twilight Zone, as well as stating: "The game toys with your interpretation and perception…[it] doesn’t tell you where to go or present you with objectives; nor does it over-explain what is going on. It is down to you as an individual how much of the world you want to interact with, given that there a plethora of emails, text messages and random scribbles on the walls to read. If you interact with every single object, your understanding of the game obviously increases, such as the ever-increasing number of multi-universe and quantum physics-related books that appear as time progresses. The developers ultimately rely on the player invested enough to read everything and explore each timeline fully. The result is a mind-boggling story told through a loose, non-linear narrative that challenges your perceptions and understanding of the game almost room-to-room.” [13]

Mike Marks at Screenjabber takes a more critical approach by questioning whether All the Delicate Duplicates should be considered a game at all, calling it "more of an experience then a game", while finally scoring it 8 out of 10 and stating: "Those familiar with The Vanishing of Ethan Carter or Dear Esther will find themselves feeling at home...until the gnarled and twisting limbs of trees begin jutting into the landscape. Or until the world itself seems ablaze with otherworldly flickering light. Then the game takes on a style of its own that is truly a marvel to behold."[14]

Matt Gardner at Fuzzy Pixels writes that he judges the game as "not perfect" while ultimately rating the game 8.2 out of 10, scoring it 10 out of 10 for "Ambitious Storytelling" and comparing it to the game Journey (among others): “The more short games that I play, the more I’m really coming to appreciate little interactive fictions and experiences that can be completed in one sitting. Luminaries of such form might include Journey and Limbo and Firewatch, and it’s safe to count All the Delicate Duplicates amongst such company. Instead of guiding you through a story like so many games in the first-person adventure genre, it gives players the agency to truly piece things together themselves, in whichever order they choose. It’s a delicate balance – omit too much and you potentially lose the interest of the player, whereas if you direct things too much, then your story becomes another linear journey from A to B. For the most part, I think All The Delicate Duplicates gets it right. All The Delicate Duplicates is refreshing simply because it works the brain in ways that few other games even bother to try. It’s certainly a game that sticks with you”.[15]

Awards[edit]

In 2014, All the Delicate Duplicates (then titled Pluto) made the shortlist of the 2014 BBC Writersroom and The Space Prize for Digital Theatre.[16]

In 2015, the project won the Tumblr International Digital Arts and Media Prize, with Danielle Strle, Director of Product for Community and Content at Tumblr stating: "Awarding the Tumblr Prize to Mez and Andy is a total honor and we are excited to be a part of such a thrilling experiment that will foster our continued support of digital art and media."[17]

In October 2016, the game won the Best Overall Game Award at the Game City Open Arcade.[18]

In May 2017, All the Delicate Duplicates was shortlisted for both the Judge’s Prize and the People’s Choice Award as part of the 2017 Opening Up Digital Fiction Competition: “The first ever UK competition to find the best new examples of popular digital fiction…run by Sheffield Hallam University and Bangor University, and part of the AHRC-funded Reading Digital Fiction project.”[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "All the Delicate Duplicates Page Steam Page". Steam Games. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "Blurring real life and fantasy in the Pluto Gameworld". The Space. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "Upcoming VR title All The Delicate Duplicates releases its first trailer". Pocket Gamer. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "First Trailer Arrives for All The Delicate Duplicates". VR Focus. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  5. ^ "All The Delicate Duplicates Website". AtDD. Retrieved 13 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "All The Delicate Duplicates On Steam". 1 June 2017. 
  7. ^ "Review: All the Delicate Duplicates (Steam) - Defunct Games". 17 February 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2017. 
  8. ^ "...it's better than Zelda". 27 May 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2017. 
  9. ^ "It's a standout game". 27 May 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2017. 
  10. ^ Caldwell, Brendan (24 July 2016). "All The Delicate Duplicates Looks Like Gone Home Viewed Through The Bottom Of A Beer Bottle". Retrieved 1 June 2017. 
  11. ^ Richardson, Aaron (20 February 2017). "All the Delicate Duplicates Review – Again and Again and Again". Retrieved 1 June 2017. 
  12. ^ Moore, Jazz (20 February 2017). "All the Delicate Duplicates PC Review". Retrieved 1 June 2017. 
  13. ^ Aitken, Lauren (25 February 2017). ""All the Delicate Duplicates" Review". Retrieved 1 June 2017. 
  14. ^ Marks, Mike (19 February 2017). "All The Delicate Duplicates review". Retrieved 1 June 2017. 
  15. ^ Gardner, Matt (19 February 2017). "All The Delicate Duplicates Review – Let's Do The Time Warp". Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  16. ^ "The Space Prize: Winner Announced". BBC Writersroom. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  17. ^ "Mez Breeze And Andy Campbell Selected For The Tumblr International Prize". The Space. Retrieved 16 October 2016. 
  18. ^ "Best Overall Game Award Goes To...All The Delicate Duplicates!". Mez Breeze Design. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  19. ^ "Bangor to host UK's first 'popular' digital fiction writing competition prize night". Bangor University. 15 May 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2017.