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The Dark Cell

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The Dark Cell
By Azureda (Daniel Stern)

9 Possible Endings

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An intriguing plot, with a setting somewhat reminiscent of Resident Evil. There was a lot going on in this story; while it was confusing and hard to follow at times, exploring all the possible paths gave a fairly good sense of what was going on and what each character's role was.

However, there were a lot of loose ends (Agamemnon's and Arnold's entire existences, what Jake was doing there and why he exists in the first place, what research is being done by whom and how it relates to Jake, the precise relationship between Chalmers and Davison, and why Dracula is in the game at all), and I for one found some of the events nonsensical or poorly explained.

The requirements for certain critical paths in the story make no sense. As an example, you can only complain about your arm if you've been beaten up by the guards, and you can do so whether or not you were actually bitten by the snake at the beginning. More importantly, you can only confront Chalmers at the end if you've either encountered the chimera in Dracula's room or else had Agamemnon pull you out of the kitchen access shaft; neither of these things appear to give your character any information that would trigger that option, and it's entirely possible to see it once and then have no idea how to make it available again.

Some other important things can only be discovered by trial and error (for instance, that you need to explore the guest house, but only if you've met Agamemnon). There are certain actions that look like they're the right thing to do but will lock you out of the true ending (like getting the keycard from Arnold); and while it's possible to accomplish mostly the same things on both of the major paths through the game, only one will actually let you win at the end. Most of these idiosyncracies are characteristic of the CYOA genre, I admit; but it can be frustrating, and combined with the fact that so many things lack explanation or exposition, it makes the game generally feel like trying to click through a flowchart until you find the right way out.

The author's comments say there are 9 endings, but I counted 16.

12 of them are deaths: "But at least your death wasn't pointless", "Horse and shining armor", "That's going to take the gardener all morning", "Shaft!", "How glamorous", "What animal would you be, if you could?", "Bon apetit!", "What a delicious turn of events!", "That's a doggone shame", "That sucks", "Isn't that sweet?", and "Shame you aren't playing as him".

Three of them are not deaths, but are not wins: "Ironic, isn't it?", "forever unsolved", and "But to what end?"

The true ending is "You solved the mystery of the Dark Cell."

For all the issues I mentioned, it's not -bad-. I think that a sequel, follow-up, or expansion would be nice, and might help to tie up the loose ends, clarify the ambiguities, and make this feel like more of a complete story.

azureda responds:

Thank you for the thoughtful and detailed response! I appreciate it.

Credits & Info

4.14 / 5.00

Dec 23, 2013
6:33 PM EST