I first witnessed the trippy story-driven game, All the Delicate Duplicates, at EGX last year, however at that point I didn’t quite understand what was going on. Now I’ve managed to get up close and personal with the game, can I make head nor tail of this bizarre adventure?
Although my first time with All the Delicate Duplicates was brief, there was something calling me back to the game, there was something fascinating and intriguing about the dark and peculiar setting and the odd story behind it. What I didn’t realise is that this was the beginning of something fascinating yet perplexing, something I’d have to experience more than once.
I’ll be honest, I rarely ever play a game twice, especially campaigns or story-driven games. Once they’re done, they’re done in my eyes. However All the Delicate Duplicates wants to smash that ideal right out of my head with deadly force. You see, if I were to take this game on face value, my review would be as short as the game itself.
All the Delicate Duplicates can be played through to completion within 30 minutes, if you rush. But what you’ll come away with is more questions than answers. In fact, your first playthrough will mean absolutely nothing to you because the story isn’t as straight forward as your usual narrative-driven game. You need to find the story, piece the story together, and find the answers for yourself.
Like a choose your own adventure book, reading it cover to cover would probably be the most confusing read of your life, and that’s the impression I got from All the Delicate Duplicates. It’s about taking in what’s in front of you, and following the pages to progress the story.
Speaking of which, while All the Delicate Duplicates is a game, there’s an extensive back (and forth) story to the game which you really need to pay attention to as there’s only so much the game tells you. This of course brings into question whether All the Delicate Duplicates could be considered a game at all, or whether it’s more a companion experience to an intricate yet confusing online digital story.
That’s not to say that there isn’t room for this sort of medium, as story is as an important part of gaming as actual gameplay itself however there are certain limitations to relying on the player to actually explore a little deeper into this extensive back story. With all that in mind, I have to say that this game has really surprised me. I’m not a reader, I’ll be perfectly honest with that one, I struggle to find the time to really sink myself into a good book.
All the Delicate Duplicates however let me experience a smidgen of a story through gameplay which dragged me kicking and screaming through the web of story told through memos left behind on tablets, newspaper clippings and books dashed throughout the house, and the occasional conversations being recalled in thin air.
This is then extended further through the back story which unlocks after your first playthrough. And while your first time might be quick, second time around you’ll likely take your time and soak in what the game has to offer. The back story itself is just as bizarre as the game as it’s not laid out chronologically, nor does it tell all of the story. You actually have to dive deep into this digital story in order to discover more, but even then things aren’t as straight forward as they seem.
Aesthetically, I was apprehensive to dive into the game as it’s down right spooky. You’ll find yourself in a handful of places, either the home you live in (three versions of which from various different timelines), a weird vast plane of grass littered with fragments of memories, and a dingy hospital. While this isn’t a horror game, it is certainly a thriller as you’re always expecting something that never happens. I must admit, there were several times I freaked out, but I did manage to keep the same pair of underpants on throughout each play through.
All the Delicate Duplicates has certainly left a mark. While I’ve come away with more questions than answers, I feel this game tries to play with your imagination somewhat. While you may think you know what tale the game and its accompanying digital story is trying to tell you, you’ll find that you intrinsically piece together things in your mind to form your own conclusions. Whether or not this is the intention of developers Andy Campbell and Mez Breeze, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with a game that I could see kick start a new form of story telling.