Pur: Ignis (aka Complicated Gallery S1E1) is a game created in 2017 by MorpheusKitami (Blackeagle, Dr. Moonlight’s Happyworld) using OHRRPGCE, as the first installment of the ongoing Complicated Gallery series (Adama: Telamon, Avir: Weto, Hudor: Mayim, Phos: Solias).
The title screen is an animated sketch (in a style reminiscent of “rage comics”) depicting a rear view of a bulky character whose head spins 180 degrees around to reveal a creepy grin, accompanied by the foreboding text “EVERYTHING IS FINE.” A cutscene then shows the player character strolling around an art gallery, looking at paintings, and admiring an empty frame. The PC is then greeted by a man in a suit who asks if you are lost and instructs you to choose a painting or television to inspect.
Choosing the TV shows you a crass anti-drug PSA that seems mostly concerned with persuading the viewer to spend their money on junk food instead.
Choosing the painting in the center of the room tells you about Laura (there’s a typo here, carpent=carpet). Laura is a 14 year old orphan with a tragic backstory, executed for a crime she didn’t commit. Then you find yourself controlling a different character in a different place. A crowd is gathered around admiring a jester (the jester’s animation reminds me of a Sierra protagonist who is about meet to a very snarky death). The spectators all have something to say; one randomly gives you a dull sword. A dull dagger can also be found on the ground nearby. An executioner stands to the north; any attempt to talk to him results in him killing you, but if you have the sword in your inventory then you see another map first for some reason. Dying returns you to the gallery, and dying seems to be the only option here.
The final painting tells of murderer hit by a car while sitting safely behind a computer monitor (this is the player… somehow). The screen goes black and there is an ambiguous prompt - “The following is a work of fiction. (Yes/No)” – but choosing only alters which snarky comeback you get in the following dialog. You are suddenly being questioned by a condescending psychiatrist after being disfigured by horrible burns (you are burned so thoroughly the doc even needs you clarify your gender). Just as suddenly you are dead and in Hell, where a facsimile of the gallery waits for you. You are instructed again to choose from several paintings (several of which have interesting subjectmatter). Speaking to your demonic overseer, interacting with the door, or exiting the left side of the map without examining a painting leads to death (again). Interacting with any of the paintings leads to another realm of more (usually binary, sometimes avoidable) choices and numerous “endings,” few of which make much sense. There are a lot of mythological references, but it’s usually unclear how these deities relate to the contexts in which they’re mentioned (ending text has a “Greek Myth Mad-Lib” flavor, though some names are from more obscure pantheons). Getting kicked back out to the first gallery is frustrating; reaching the second gallery again requires mashing enter and letter keys to get through the hospital scene.
Something about the use of MIDI in MK’s games causes my computer’s internal synth to reset to max volume each time the music queue changes (I imagine there’s data at the beginning of each MIDI file directly manipulating the master volume of the synth). This makes it impossible to manage volume of opening scenes during which access to the game’s menu is restricted. This is frustrating as I use a power amp with passive monitor speakers, and there’s no volume knob for me to turn down besides the faders built into Windows, and the MIDI information keeps cranking one of those back up to painful levels whenever the song changes (even with Master set to just above –infinity). It can literally hurt to get kicked out of a scene to the gallery.
The graphics in this game are a huge improvement over Blackeagle, and remind me of early graphical adventure games in a good way. One issue I noticed: the player character’s belt buckle is visible no matter which direction the character is facing.
I like the concept of Pur: Ignis – it reminds me of I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream, even if Night Gallery is most obvious reference. The branching structure is promising as well, though the idea could certainly stand to be expanded upon. The game’s main gimmick is making choices and receiving different endings; but, currently, seeing all the endings entails re-playing the same material over and over just to make a slightly different choice at the last moment (which may or may not have a unique outcome, and either way it’s probably not that interesting or illuminating). Very little of the plot makes any kind of sense, so it's hard to care during all those playthroughs. I think MorpheusKitami is onto something interesting with this style of branching game; hopefully future games in the series will further refine and expand upon the core concept and deliver a more rewarding (perhaps even user-friendly?) gameplay experience.
...spake The Lord Thy God.