Despite my interest in classical music, I have little familiarity with opera. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to play “Turandot,” which adapts Puccini’s opera into a choice-based interactive fiction format.

Gameplay: The game is fundamentally an extensive conversation between the titular princess and the protagonist, a prince who becomes her suitor. Despite that setup, the game never feels constrained or repetitive; the dialogue is well-written and authentic, and it explores tangents about justice and morality instead of just being a standard love story. The two main characters have strong, well-defined personalities that are engaging and complex. 9/10.

Mechanics: The game runs on the ChoiceScript engine, and play progress by choosing one of a list of options at each decision point in the story. Those choices are mostly color; the plot, while involved, is linear. Nevertheless, the dialogue is strong enough to make steering conversations rewarding, and the plot is compelling enough that having few branch points isn’t restrictive. At several points in the game, ostensible choices are greyed out and unvailable to the player. Most prominently, the safe or more rational choices are unavailable when the narrator first meets Turandot; he’s so overwhelmed that he can only declare his love for her. It’s not a bad device, but it’s a cliché in interactive fiction at this point. (A better variant occurs in an early scene in which the protagonist is offered a drink, to which the three possible responses are all “Yes.”) As a nice touch, the stats screen simply reads, “Love cannot be quantified.” 8/10.

Presentation: The dialogue is consistently strong throughout, a and the game is genuinely engaging to play through. The two main characters exchange witty banter, but it’s written well enough to show an authentic and meaningful relationship instead of just being clever barbs. About two-thirds of the long game is simply an extended conversation between the two of them, but it doesn’t drag. 9/10.

You might be interested in this game if: You prefer parser-based puzzlefests and want an excellent but very different kind of game.

Score: 9

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