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Video Game / Alabaster

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Alabaster, a self-professed Fractured Fairy Tale by Emily Short and various other authors, is an Interactive Fiction game that retells the story of Snow White through a dark mirror.

The game places you into the shoes of the huntsman ordered to kill Snow White and bring her heart back to the Queen. You secretly made a pact with Snow White to let her go in the woods and bring back the heart of a hart to the Queen instead, but as the fateful hour approaches you can't help but take note of Snow White's erratic behavior in the woods and the rumors you've heard about her being even more dangerous than her stepmother. You're alone with Snow White now, however, and the only way you'll get any answers is by questioning her or any other creatures that might be nearby. If you really want to know the answers, that is...

The main appeal of this game is its complex conversation system created through a collaboration project among Emily Short and various other interactive fiction writers who added conversation options and dialogue after one another in a round-robin-like manner. It isn't quite as conversation-focused as Emily Short's earlier work Galatea famously was, but the conversations you can hold with Snow White on numerous topics are definitely the most important and interesting parts of the game.

Further information and download links for this game can be found here.

This game contains examples of:

  • Actually Not a Vampire: Snow White is a demon who 'dabbels'. Not an actual vampire.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Most of the endings are like this. Even the happiest ones where you exorcise Snow White and learn how to restore the Queen's sanity or join Lilith as an equal partner have bittersweet undertones of the Queen's restored sanity implied to be only temporary because you still don't know where the King is or how to restore him or you leaving your family behind, respectively.
  • Dead Person Conversation: You can talk to the hart whose heart you just cut out, and he can give you a lot of insight on certain topics. He thoughtfully makes time stand still during your conversation so that Snow White won't be aware of it.
  • Demonic Possession: One of the conversation threads has you learn that the Queen summoned demons and gives you the option to ask if the Queen was possessed by them. If you follow the conversation thread far enough, you learn that Snow White is actually the possessed one! Fortunately, it's possible to exorcise Lilith from her or have her leave Snow White's body willingly with the right choices.
  • Dialogue Tree: Sort of. The conversation system is much more complex than a simple branching dialogue tree, but you usually get suggestions about follow-up dialogue options after asking or saying something.
  • Fairest of Them All: You can ask Snow White this word-by-word. Her reply borders on Never Heard That One Before. You can also learn that the Queen summoned the demon Lilith with the express purpose of becoming beautiful, although Snow White becomes evasive if you ask her why the Queen wants to kill her which means that you never know for sure if the Queen was really jealous about her beauty or not.
  • Fake Memories: Some endings have you realize that you are actually the missing King who voluntarily blood-sundered yourself in a Deal with the Devil to atone for the terrible war you brought upon your kingdom at the cost of losing all memories about your former life. You can undo this blood-sundering in one ending.
  • Fallen Princess: The princess shows telltale signs of being off, the cause of which can be confirmed through dialog.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: The game bills itself as a "fractured fairy tale" of Snow White. Not only does Alabaster follow in Neil Gaiman's footsteps of heavily implying Snow White to be a vampire or something else not quite human, but it has a Perspective Flip of the huntsman being the PC and having more than one dark secret of his own. Snow White is possessed by the demon Lilith, the Queen is an insane witch, her mirror houses the wicked spirit who drove her insane, and you're actually the missing King who voluntarily blood-sundered yourself in an infernal bargain called blood-sundering to atone for the terrible war you brought upon your kingdom at the cost of losing all memories about your former life.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: To say that the Queen went a little crazy after the disappearance of her husband and her possession of the Magic Mirror would be a massive understatement. You can restore her sanity in one ending, but the ending implies that her newfound sanity won't last long.
  • Grimmification: The game is significantly darker than the original story, let alone the Disney version. The dwarves are an entire race hostile to humans and Snow White is not the innocent maiden we remember.
  • I Do Not Drink Wine: Inverted; Snow White's regular drinking of red wine is taken as a sign of her possible vampirism.
  • King Incognito: One conversation thread has Snow White suggest that the disappeared King may have been blood-sundered and become an ordinary person in the process. You can also piece together the evidence (or ask Happy outright) and find out that you are the King under Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • Magic Mirror: An evil one that the Queen possesses, naturally. You can make it more benign if you learn how from a certain source.
  • Multiple Endings: No less than eighteen of them.
  • One-Word Title: Picked to follow the material theme of Emily Short's other "fractured fairy tale" games, Bronze and Glass, and also as a reference to Snow White.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: They're called "dwarrows" in this world, and are mentioned to have waged a nasty war with the kingdom the PC comes from. You can converse with one of them named Happy whose soul somehow ended up in a hart's body.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The PC suspects Snow White may be one at the beginning of the game, and it's easy to see why. May or may not be confirmed, depending on the ending you get.
  • Perspective Flip: The story of the game is told from the perspective of the huntsman hired to kill Snow White instead of from Snow White's perspective.
  • Tempting Apple: The game's cover art is that of an apple with a bite taken out of it, and an apple is the answer to a riddle Snow White tells you if you follow a certain conversation thread.
  • Too Dumb to Live: You can return to the castle with Snow White still with you. This goes about as well as you'd expect. You can also provoke Snow White into killing you by questioning her about her vampirism after you've learned from Happy that she's a vampire and explicitly warned by him not to question her about it.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can drive Snow White insane after you exorcise Lilith from her by repeatedly asking her probing questions. Considering that you get numerous signs of her impeding Freak Out if you continue questioning her and that Snow White was just recently freed from a freaking demon possessing her body and is now just an ordinary girl who understandably doesn't want to relive her traumatic experience, you'd pretty much have to be a heartless bastard to go this far.
  • Wicked Stepmother: But of course. It's implied in a couple of conversation threads that this wasn't always the case, however.