Fatale: Exploring Salome (PC)

The Biblical tale of Salome, a harsh and worrysome story, rendered into gaming form through the eyes of Oscar Wilde.

Yep it’s as weird as it sounds, but is it good? Find out in my review at Square-Go

Fatale: Exploring Salome

3/5
Fatale: Exploring Salome

Oscar Wilde probably isn’t the first person you’d expect to be the driving force behind a game. Perhaps an inspiration for some witty dialogue or as the model for an effet uncle character in some strange Japanese adventure title. Surprisingly it’s Salome, one of his more unusual plays which acts as the basis for Tale of Tales’ follow-up to their excellent game The Path.

The story of Salome recounts the Biblical tale of John the Baptist, and his unfortunate end after upsetting King Herod. The story goes that he was flung into prison and left to rot. Then to make matters worse Herod’s Step-daughter Salome requested his head on a platter as a present after performing the dance of the seven veils for her Step-father.  From here John’s day really had started to go downhill. Wilde’s spin on all this was to turn the story around and cast Salome as an angry spurned woman with designs on poor John, who uses her sexuality to get vengeance upon the man who slighted her.

Which brings us to Fatale, Tale of Tales take on the story in interactive form. It’s a curious one this, more than any of their previous releases, Fatale is almost certainly not a game.  It opens by trying to gently lull you into thinking it might be by starting out like any other First-person game. You’re trapped in a dark, damp and barren dungeon with only a few crates for company.  It’s like something from the Thief games, as light floats in from a grating at one end and a locked door sits at the other.  You can run around, push the crates and watch the grating for glimpses of the silhouetted figure dancing above. However it’s all window dressing as the object of the mission is simply to wait. While you do, bleak lines from the play appear before your eyes, hanging in space and a series of veils appear across the bottom of the screen counting down the minutes to your fate.

It’s after this that the game becomes more bizarre. The remainder of it consists of floating around the beautifully detailed midnight courtyard above the dungeon; where Salome, her mother and a guard stand around quietly ruminating. It’s here that the majority of Fatale takes place. A series of candles must be put out whilst indistinct whispered lines from the play can be heard in the background. As you float around awkwardly able to interact with some objects but not others and examine the bizarre incongruities of the game.

While it’s evident that the game isn’t supposed to be taken literally, it’s a tad strange that Salome wears an iPod and that there are matchbooks lying around the courtyard with her phone number and “call me” scrawled inside. What it does do is confuse the already strange narrative to a baffling point where the style is everything and the storytelling and playing of the game is completely secondary to the atmosphere and experience.  Sadly it doesn’t quite compare to the genius of their far more accessible The Path, what it does do is push the boundary of gaming in an interesting direction.

Not one for most people, but an experience completely unique and very challenging for anyone who likes to see the envelope of gaming pushed as far as it can go.

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