This is quite a beautiful piece. The writing is evocative, and the world is ... well, there are two halves to the game, and the world in the first half, perhaps appropriately for being set in the real world, is nicely realistic. The second half of the game is a much more game-like experience, being set in what is quite possibly the main character's imagination. Unless it actually is as real as the first half, I don't know, but there is a distinct difference in how these two halves of the game are painted.

On the first half: this is the prelude to the game, where one gathers the equipment one needs to progress. At the very minimum is just the one item, but there are a few other things, somewhat less intuitive, which are optional and which help to open the way to a more difficult-to-achieve alternate ending. In this half, one is faced with a gathering of friends mourning the loss of another. These friends are sketched in a few lines, and one does not get to nteract all that much with them, but it is immediately clear how they stand in relation to the player's character, and who they are. Some details are only hinted at -- there is an off-hand reference, for example, to one character's faith without any mention of what that faith actually is; likewise, another is associated with a desperate drive to the hospital, without any details filled in. These indirect descriptions perhaps do more to fill out the characters than a direct statement ever could, for they allow the player to fill in the blanks with his own associations, positive or otherwise. As well, it creates an impression of instant familiarity: the player knows these characters well enough that no explicit description is necessary, and their actions speak louder than any description can. It is an excellent demonstration of "show, don't tell".

The second half of the game is necessarily less familiar, more hostile. And yet, we are rewarded for our awareness: in my playthrough, I found no reference anywhere as to the name of the older woman in the conservatory; yet I knew, from the context and from various character markers, that she could only be Persephone ... and I was very much pleased to find that the game allowed me to refer to her as such. I understand, from reading other reviews, that the asylum's doctor is referred to in some reaction text somewhere as Hades; I am inclined to think that this is an oversight on the author's part, and that ideally there should be no direct in-game references to the mythical identities of the characters in this half of the game.

There are a few typos here and there, nothing blatant. Aside from that, I do have two criticisms. One is that I do not quite see how the "friendship" ending follows from the actions that lead up to it. That path may need more work, possibly involving interaction with two or more of the other mourners. The other is more personal: one of the mourners, Rick, offers the player some "port, m'dear ... it's a very fine old tawny". As a fan of Flanders & Swann, this is a jarring note of dissonance for me -- it should be madeira, m'dear ... it's really an excellent year. Although perhaps this was intentional.

All in all, it's quite heady stuff. Waffles drenched in maple syrup (the real thing, not just brown sugar) and unsalted butter, with strawberries and sliced pears on the side. Pomegranate juice.