Faerie Solitaire: Mimesis

Even if Faerie Solitaire is essentially the same game as Fairway Solitaire, it seems to me that the golf theme is a better fit to the gameplay. Regard each draw from the deck as a stroke: the game is about trying to achieve a goal (clearing the board of cards) in as few strokes as possible. It’s not a big stretch of the imagination to think of a lengthy run from a single foundation as meaning that you’ve hit the ball a very long way. The “faerie” theme affords no such easy interpretation. In my mind, I’m comparing it to Puzzle Quest, which is another fantasy-themed game with highly abstract gameplay. But at least PQ took care to establish some clear metaphors for swordplay and spellcasting in the player’s activities, conveying a sense that it was all just a symbolic representation of what was really going on in the gameworld. All games with combat mechanics are abstractions; PQ just abstracted it a little farther than most. In Faerie Solitaire, there’s not even a clear notion of what the card-game might be an abstraction of.

I mean, what is the hero doing in the game? Assuming that the voice who narrates snippets of story in the first person is supposed to be the player character — and there’s not much to suggest this other than convention and expectation — he’s pretty passive. He travels from place to place, directed by various supernatural beings, observes conditions, and gets bits of prophecy thrown at him. Occasionally he lets a fairy out of a cage, but also at one point he’s tricked by a fairly transparent trickster into carrying a magic item that winds up killing a bunch of fairies instead, so at the point I’m at, I can’t really say that he’s had a net positive effect. It’s really surprising how much of a downer the story is. I guess it’s trying to use depictions of fairies being imprisoned, tormented, tortured, and occasionally slaughtered in large quantities as a way to motivate the player to free them, but it doesn’t really counterbalance this with depictions of fairies not being imprisoned, tormented, tortured, or slaughtered. The icon used for the game in the Steam interface shows a very sullen-looking baby-faced fairy, which struck me as an odd choice when I first saw it. Why not use a picture of a smiling, happy, frolicking fairy, which would probably be more appealing to the fairy-loving demographic and drive up sales? The answer: the game contains no such pictures.

The one occasionally mimetic thing about the levels is that the card layouts sometimes reflect the story environment. For example, if you’re walking along the shore, the cards might be arranged in a wavy pattern. But the physical layout is rather arbitrary, especially given the use of ice and thorn cards to rearrange the stacks without affecting the topology.

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