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This was quite unexpected, Zachtronics who are known for their challenging and high quality puzzle games have announced a Visual Novel called Eliza and it sounds unusual.

Eliza is a visual novel about an AI counseling program, the people who develop it, and the people who use it. Follow Evelyn Ishino-Aubrey as she reconnects with people from her past, gets to know the people of Seattle who use Eliza for counseling, and decides the course of her future.

A pretty big departure from what they're known for, with previous titles including EXAPUNKS, Opus Magnum (incredible game), SHENZHEN I/O, Infinifactory and more.

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Feature Highlight:

  • A thought-provoking story told in the form of a visual novel from an award-winning indie team.
  • Follow Evelyn’s journey through a present-day Seattle brought to life with beautiful hand-painted art.
  • Get to know Eliza’s clients and the employees of Skandha, the technology giant behind it, with over a dozen fully-voiced characters and powerful performances from a highly regarded cast.
  • An evocative, ambient original score by the composer for Infinifactory, SHENZHEN I/O, Opus Magnum, and EXAPUNKS.
  • Is AI-driven counseling better than nothing? Is it worse than nothing? What responsibilities come with technical skills? Consider your own answers to these questions and more.

Not sold on yet? Well, Eliza also includes Kabufuda Solitaire for when you want to take a break from the counselling sessions. They say it's a new take on solitaire using Japanese kabufuda cards…they just couldn't resist some sort of strategic/puzzle element to it I see.

You can wishlist and follow it on Steam, releasing August 12th. I imagine it will make it to itch.io like their other games at some point too.

Hat tip to Caique in our Telegram Group.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
12 Likes, Who?
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Eike 2 August 2019 at 5:08 pm UTC
Hm. Not sure what to make of this. Didn't play their latest games yet, but they're not famous for their narratives, are they...?

Still, worth a look.
wvstolzing 2 August 2019 at 5:21 pm UTC
Eikebut they're not famous for their narratives, are they...?

Still, worth a look.

They do take the overall context-setting narrative very seriously though. Sure, in each game the story doesn't dictate how the individual puzzles work; but the experience of solving that sort of puzzle makes a lot more sense given the setting (including all the text you have to read (the manuals, the 'zines')), & the minimal plot.
MisterPaytwick 2 August 2019 at 5:39 pm UTC
A Zachtronics game? Sign me... Wait it's a Visual Novel... I don't know, I'm in I guess. I mean they have some excellent records and games, but I've like 3 games from them that I should complete first (didn't touched yet Opus Magnum, and EXAPUNKS and still didn't finished ShenzhenI/O)

Well, I guess as long as the game doesn't provoke a PR meltdown I'll get it. (It's not about the PR, but usual PR meltdown start with some things being really off, like that StarWars Lootboxes one)
Wendigo 2 August 2019 at 5:42 pm UTC
Sounds interesting, both the name and the fact that it is about an AI remind of Josef Weizenbaums ELIZA:
link
tuubi 2 August 2019 at 6:06 pm UTC
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WendigoSounds interesting, both the name and the fact that it is about an AI remind of Josef Weizenbaums ELIZA:
link
Either an obvious reference/homage or a really unlikely coincidence.
Purple Library Guy 2 August 2019 at 9:03 pm UTC
I remember having a little Eliza program on my TRS-80 when I was a teenager. It would parrot back stuff you said, with little "How does it make you feel that bla?" and so forth. Incredibly simplistic, you could look at the code (in BASIC!) and see that it only had a few tricks, and yet on those rare occasions when you weren't just deliberately trying to make the results sound silly it could feel surprisingly lifelike.
Nagezahn 3 August 2019 at 5:37 am UTC
EikeHm. Not sure what to make of this. Didn't play their latest games yet, but they're not famous for their narratives, are they...?

Still, worth a look.
The story in Space Chem, Infinifactory and Opus Magnum got me hooked easily and provided a fitting context for the puzzles. And EXAPUNKS presented parts of the story in a chat-like manner that did well for that game. So I believe they can deliver a compelling story with a twist or two on a larger scale.
tuubi 3 August 2019 at 8:13 am UTC
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Purple Library GuyI remember having a little Eliza program on my TRS-80 when I was a teenager. It would parrot back stuff you said, with little "How does it make you feel that bla?" and so forth. Incredibly simplistic, you could look at the code (in BASIC!) and see that it only had a few tricks, and yet on those rare occasions when you weren't just deliberately trying to make the results sound silly it could feel surprisingly lifelike.
A Finnish computer magazine published a localized Eliza-clone as printed C64 BASIC code in the early 80's. I had a lot of fun rewriting the lines with a friend to make the tone just slightly darker: Instead of chatting with your therapist, you had a casual conversation with your friendly executioner before he chopped your head off. I wasn't a teenager yet, but I was apparently old enough to appreciate a bit of gallows humour.
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