Very little is enough to ruin them. It is such a minimalist and fragile genre in mechanics that it risks collapsing with every misplaced intervention. To understand what we mean, try to stick a baroque angel in an abstract picture of Mondrian and then let us know. It will seem paradoxical, since we are still talking about videogames, but works that live completely by staging can not afford the mechanics that impede them. The Chinese Room, Campo Santo,
Tale of Tales, Giant Squid and others have understood it, some more, some less,Act 3 Games instead got caught up in the anxiety of camouflaging the Fidelio Incident in some way from videogame and ended up weakening it in its essence. The title obviously refers to the play of Beethoven, cited directly within the adventure, and to which we owe the name of the
protagonist’s wife, Leonore. If we want between the two Fidelio there is also a commonality of themes, since in both there is a wife who devotes herself body and soul to her husband, sacrificing herself for her own good. The stories told, however, are very different.
THE ICE INSIDE
The Fidelio Incident begins with a plane crash. Leonore and her husband Stanley are flying over the coast of Iceland when the plane literally breaks in flight and the two are thrown on a frozen island. I regained my senses, Stanley, of which the player will embrace the point of view for the whole game, will start looking for the woman, finding that he is somewhere on the island stuck under the sheets.
We do not know how to get to her, but we have a reference point that gives us the woman herself, contacted via smartphone: black smoke. Here also comes the first game mechanic that “breaks” the walk.
Leonore tells Stanley to retrieve the pages of his diary scattered among the wreckage.You have already understood that it is only by reading the diary that you will come to understand the true story of Stanley and Leonore. Finding the pages is very easy: just follow the smoke. The pieces of the exploded airplane have in fact formed small fires which emit white or black
smoke and are clearly visible from afar. Reaching the stakes is not only necessary to discover pieces of the couple’s history, but also to warm up Stanley, who if left too long to Icelandic rigidity is likely to die from hypothermia, with the classic ice effect that fills the screen gradually.
Where’s the problem, are you wondering? Well, going in search of the bonfire ends up weighing on the main mechanics of the game, that is the exploration, slowing it over the due.
THEMES AND PROBLEMS
Walking in The Fidelio Incident is not as interesting as it should be. The scenery was not loaded with the deep meanings of a Dear Esther or The Town of Light, nor the bewitching beauty of an Abzû, nor the metanarrative strength of a The Beginner’s Guide. Of course, it is peculiar that the different areas of the island are linked to the four phases of hypothermia and, if we want, the prevailing frost is an allegory of the couple’s condition, but that’s all.
Besides having to hunt for leaflets breaks a bit ‘even the narrative tension: but how, is there our beloved lady who is seriously risking death and we waste time jumping from one black smoke to another? Fortunately, in the second part of the game there is a recovery.