Aaron Reed’s Blue Lacuna – Final Thoughts!February 22, 2009
It’s been several days since my past self blithely promised to write up some sort of cohesive opinion on Blue Lacuna, then skipped off into the sunset without considering me (Future Her) or my needs. Selfish bitch. In the intervening time I have been doing quite a bit of thinking. For one thing, I’ve thought about how much it would suck if one’s lover were to eat one’s eyeballs.
No, seriously, that’d be pretty traumatic, don’t you think? So traumatic that you’d probably repress it, and when they came to pick you up from the hospital you would go along without a qualm, maybe even feeling grateful to them for staying with you, and all the time they’d – oh, no, wait, what if they hadn’t eaten your eyeballs after all; what if they had removed them and shellacked them and mounted them on a pair of sproingy antennae and wore them all the time and you never knew because you couldn’t see because they were wearing your eyeballs as antennae. That would be horrible.
Also I thought about Gilligan’s Island syndrome (when the main character’s desires, if fulfilled, would end the story) and whether or not it only happens in episodic-type media, and I thought about what it would be like if everyone’s name changed depending on where they were and what they were doing (confusing and stupid, I decided: everyone’s driver’s license, for example, would be made out to StandingintheDMV Fillingoutaform), and I wrote a whole big thing comparing the female version of Blue Lacuna’s main character and the male version of her lover to Ayla and Jondalar from Clan of the Cave Bear, but this turned out to be one of those things that’s more fun for me to write than it is for you to read, and honestly, it wasn’t that much fun to write.
So. Final thoughts. Blue Lacuna. You’re getting ’em. They might not be all pretty and writerly-looking. They might be more like someone squatted over this blog and crapped out Spam. (The potted meat food product, not the internet term.) You have been warned.
Edit: Oh, right, the spoiler-free version for people who have not yet played the game. It’s a good game. Play it. That was easy.
[spoilers crapped out below]
I feel like ultimately I’m supposed to care about the game’s Big Main Point above all else, so let’s address that first. I have no idea what the Big Main Point is supposed to be, unless it’s “Choices are bad; try not to make any.” Should you choose not to not choose but to choose, you are presented with two options, Forest and City, each of which has One Good Quality and One Bad Quality, and – wait for it – each faction’s good quality is the polar opposite of the other’s bad quality! They are so well balanced that they could participate in PvP against each other without anyone complaining in the forums!*
If I’d had to choose, I would have sided with City, ostensibly because I find slavery more distasteful than war, but really because trees are disgusting and they’re stealing my oxygen. I had forgotten, though, that just because something is presented as a choice, no one is obligated to actually make one. Fortunately (?), Progue accosted me before I had a chance to finalize my decision, and guilt-bullied me into letting him choose. And then chose not to choose. “Right on,” I said, “nice one,” and that was that. I’m still not sure what the point was. Oh, I could probably work up something about people’s tendency to view things falsely as dichotomies. What lovely bullshit that would be!
Let’s see, should we do good things about this game or should we do mapping? Mapping! Mapping mapping mapping! I actually rather like mapping, so I wasn’t put off by having to do it (yeah, yeah, no one has to do anything, which might even be the Big Main Point, but the island is somehow really hard to visualize and mapping makes life much easier), I was put off by the mazey bit in the middle of the rainforest that does not map properly. Let me get this straight, Aaron Reed: you would like for everyone who does not already feel alienated by the sheer concept of drawing a paper map in these enlightened days of interactive fiction, the remaining weirdos who actually enjoy mapping, to become pissed off when they discover that their beautiful map is all fucked up thanks to a tree that is somehow northwest of itself? Really? I think you just hate everybody, is what I think. Why do you hate everybody, Aaron Reed? Why do you hate everybody and their maps?
Seriously, though, the island is bizarrely, insanely, crazy nuts hard to visualize, and I’m not exactly sure why. There’s the bit around the damn tree that doesn’t make any sense. There’s the brightness to the north that is code for “jump over the embankment west.” There is a bit of caldera south of the treehouse that I think is right next to a bit of caldera through the cabin, and you Can’t Get There From Here. There is a hidden pool and a hidden pond which I believe are different things. Allegedly the whole thing is a figure eight, but I’m not sure how. Most frustratingly, many rooms seem to lack a consistent identity that is visible from adjoining rooms, if you get me. Like, you know how you’ll be in a Bat Cave and you go north and then to your south is the Bat Cave? A lot of the time in Blue Lacuna you will go north from the Bat Cave and when you want to return you go south through a patch of dead sunflowers. I understand the desire to avoid “You are standing on The Plains! To your South is the Bat Cave! To your East is a Graveyard!”, but there’s gotta be some middle ground, right?
Apart from that, I liked this game quite a bit, most of all when it was being Mysty. So many things were just cool: the manta ray, the dreams – hey, would it not fuck you up if every time it rained your treehouse looked like your dead mother? You’d think that’d give somebody a complex – really, though, it’s a good game, and there’s a lot of impressive substance to it. (I appreciated being nudged along when stuck, which must’ve required some fancy codery as well as very much anticipation of very many action. Getting tired just thinking about it.) I suspect there is much more going on under the surface than I will ever know. You know. Like ducks. This game is a very good duck. I’m going to bed.
* This is of course impossible.