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Review: The Müll Littoral

For a short game of this genre, it could have been a lot worse. The developer actually put a fair amount of effort into the writing and presentation, not trying to merely make a point or even just explore a certain issue, and also not placing the game in this “reality”, but managing to tell a story and place it in a fantasy world quite well, perhaps better than would usually be expected considering the constraints imposed by the game’s length and the chosen gameplay style. The art also complements this, the fact that it’s “gritty” perhaps making it even more suitable for the theme, and the music is good enough as well. Some puzzles were also reasonably interesting, and I liked the change of pace brought by the “meditation” one, which I “translated” into equations and then took the time to solve.
That said, I’m not fond of the way the regular puzzles play out, needing to be so fast and also pretty accurate, to click the right objects in the right order, and in some cases also at precisely the right moments, not even having a second to spare. In some ways it makes some sense, if you also consider the theme, but this is what makes up the actual gameplay and, as I said, I’m really not fond of it. On the other hand, while the option to skip straight to certain points in the game from the main menu is good, I guess it exists to make up for the fact that you can’t save, which can be annoying if you really need to leave at some point, and I would have preferred to also be able to skip straight to the final choice, to not have to go through the last two puzzles again to see both endings.
As for the way it deals with the issue it wants to explore, anxiety, it could again have been much worse… But also quite a lot better. The scenes depicted actually have meanings and it doesn’t push as hard as many would, reveals a fair amount of understanding, even makes points about those meaning to help needing to learn how, and to just offer comfort, including that moment when Glasswalker is told he tried to teach Juul to fly by pushing her off a cliff and telling her to flap, which tends to be what people do, starting from the “professionals”. However, it does in the end push the need to “fix” oneself, and that great harm will come out of not doing so, to the point that it’s unacceptable to not manage it, and quickly. Needing to accept that as the only path and, even then, to sacrifice much for what I guess is supposed to be the “comforting” ending bothered me to say the least. It’s supposedly not Juul’s fault, but only if she makes exactly the choices she “needs” to and “fixes” herself in time, eh? Otherwise, apparently it is her fault, and not an acceptable course of action.

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