Tale of Tales isn't the kind of indie dev to over-explain their artistic creations and I'm not the kind of person who reads the Bible. This combination creates the weirdest gaming experience ever.
Don't even bother telling me "You just don't get it, it's art!" because I've already accepted that as a foregone conclusion. Still, even a blind person can appreciate art in some way...because not all art is visual. Just so, I'm out to appreciate FATALE for what it is, even if I'm not entirely clear on what I'm dealing with.
Spoiler Warning: The nature of this game makes it impossible to talk about it without marring the experience the developer wants you to have.
What Is It? FATALE is a 3D adventure game where players take the role of John the Baptist first during his final hours before an unceremonious beheading and then as his ghost in the courtyard above where he died. The text within the game and most of the inspiration for its visual come from Oscar Wilde's play, Salome.
What We Saw I played all three levels of the game on a copy I purchased for myself.
How Far Along Is It? It's out now.
What Needs Improvement? Make It Easier To Review The Controls: The control scheme changes between the three levels of the game and it's not easy to review them or to puzzle them out on your own. The game comes with Read Me file you could of course access while playing the game, or you can pause and navigate through a menu to look up the controls. But it'd be a lot more helpful and a lot less jarring to just press a single button have the controls for that level appear on screen in front of you.
What The Hell Are The Amp And The Guitar Doing There? Seriously, what gives with the anachronistic props? Don't knock me out of the time period just for shits and giggles.
What Should Stay The Same? It's Very, Very Pretty: I've never seen such a gorgeous indie game. The subtle motions of Salome's veils and the dramatic colours on the face of her murderous mother are but two examples of the game's striking art style that comes back to haunt you even after you've completed the game.
Well-Used Music: There's only one song in the whole game and the developer gets some excellent mileage out of it.
Thought-Provoking: Maybe I'm wrong about art (and my high school art teacher will likely attest to this), but I always thought it was there to make you think. Maybe it upsets you with something alarming or violent, maybe it captivates you with something pretty and complex. Either way, I really felt like FATALE was making me think — not just about the source material and how it was worked into the game, but about abstract concepts like time and remorse. Pretentious, sure. But way better than being bored or disgusted.
Final Thoughts I'm not sure if can explain exactly what went on while playing FATALE, but I am sure that I enjoyed it even during alarming moments like where I got my head chopped off. With a little effort and an open mind, you probably will enjoy it as well — thought I don't know if that holds true for Bible purists who think Oscar Wilde was off his rocker.