Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Galatea

Go To
She stands in the spotlight, with her back to you: a sweep of pale hair on paler skin, a column of emerald silk that ends in a pool at her feet. She might be the model in a perfume ad; the trophy wife at a formal gathering; one of the guests at this very opening, standing on an empty pedestal in some ironic act of artistic deconstruction —

You hesitate, about to turn away. Her hand balls into a fist.

"They told me you were coming."

Galatea is an interactive fiction created by Emily Short in 2000. It is based on the Greek myth of Galatea, a statue of a woman who came to life after being created by the sculptor Pygmalion.

You play an art critic at an art show. Beyond that, the game varies wildly with how you interact with Galatea, an exhibit at the show.

Can be played here.

Contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The main character is an art critic specializing in animates, humanoid pieces with artificial intelligence. At the beginning of the game, he believes Galatea is one.
  • Caustic Critic:
    • You can choose to be as nasty as possible about Galatea, what she represents, and her artist. Depending on how nasty you are, she can either run out of the room just to get away from you, have a mental breakdown, or throttle your neck.
    • If you convince Galatea to swap places, the reviews of your performance aren't favourable because it isn't boundary-pushing enough, which make you roll your eyes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Galatea isn't rude, but she is a dry being in general, and can be outright snarky depending on the topics you choose and her affection gauge.
  • Debug Room: Emily Short provides two debug commands for players curious about how the game works "behind the scenes" on her Cheats and Walkthroughs page.
  • Driven to Suicide: The artist, potentially.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • In the "Reflections" ending, Galatea turns out to be one, easily able to change her form.
      With a laugh like that of a child being let outside, she turns – to wood, the color and style of a product of Old Kingdom Egypt. To glass, faceted, her hair scattering the downshot light to a thousand tiny points. To a sculpture of sand, to a pillar of salt, to flowing water, to flame.
      And finally her substance has fled entirely, and she is only a shadow, passing around you in a cool whisper.
      “I am what you think I am; I am what your treatment makes of me.”
    • If you manage to summon Aphrodite, in one ending, her visage — too tall, too bright — reduces you to a catatonic wreck huddled against the gallery wall.
  • From Beyond the Fourth Wall:
    • The special verb EUDOXIA is only revealed in the "Brute Force" ending, where it is too late to be of use. The player must UNDO or RESTART to use it in another path.
    • Subverted if you get the ending where Galatea turns out to be a robot controlled by an artist behind the curtain; trying to get it again after obtaining that ending only results in in you tearing down the curtain only to reveal a blank space, which gets you chided by Galatea or kicked out by security. It's double subverted in a variant where you turn out to be the woman behind the curtain if you try again with some parameters fulfilled.
  • Guide Dang It!: There are 70 unique endings (although many are variations on specific endings). The nuances of each ending are dependent on hidden stats related to what the player character and Galatea have discussed about. Targeting specific endings requires the player to ask about certain topics before taking an action.
  • Hates Being Touched: Galatea doesn't appreciate being touched, but especially hates being grabbed. An easy way to get a bad ending is by yanking her about to study her closely, despite her warning, which gets you a broken wrist and nightmares.
  • Humanity Ensues: One ending has Galatea become human after praying to Zeus.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: One ending reveals Galatea to be controlled by a woman behind the curtain. Another ending has you be the woman behind the curtain instead.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • There's a secret ending where it turns out Galatea's really just controlled by a woman sitting behind a curtain, and the conversation you have with her sounds suspiciously like a curious game player talking to the author. The woman also seems to resemble Emily Short herself.
    • If you try to get this ending prematurely by checking the curtain, Galatea chides you as you wonder why, exactly, you did that. It was like some impulse or command from God made you check the curtains.
    • There's another secret ending where it turns out you're the woman controlling Galatea, chatting with some assistants. The dialogue you have with them sounds a lot like indie game development with some co-writers as well as the process of writing Galatea itself, down to worries about the work not selling and trying to predict an audience's reactions to Galatea.
    • The ending where you try to convince Galatea is a machine by trying to get her to break the First Rule of Robotics by killing you has her point out that your own aversion to murder really isn't that much different from a robot's code, and ponders if likening morals to code means maybe you and her are both machines, or perhaps "maybe this whole thing is itself a simulation inside a box somewhere."
    • The ending you get if you immediately ask her thoughts on sex has her resulting monologue drive you off, with the PC's inner thoughts complaining they've heard way too many stories about tortured, angsty artists having bad relationships with women. It doubles as Self-Deprecation, since learning more about Galatea's creator paints him a tortured, angsty artist.
    • There are two endings that hinge on you knowing a word that overrides Galatea, and it plays out much like accessing a debug room.
    • Your art critic PC can bring up artists whose famous pieces primarily revolved around audience observation vs. interaction, not unlike the game itself.
  • Multiple Endings: Ranging from getting depressed about cancer, to the artist being behind the curtain controlling Galatea, to you getting kicked out by security for tearing down said curtain. In all, there's around seventy different endings.
  • No Infantile Amnesia: Commented upon, where the title character says she remembers how she was constructed, while others don't remember how they were born.
  • Press X to Die: Inappropriately touch Galatea and you get grabbed and a stern warning to not do it again. Do it anyway and you get a broken wrist. Another ending has you crudely interrogate her about her limits of morality and her creator's suicide, and when you decide to push your luck, she promptly wrings your neck.
  • Pygmalion Plot: In fact, this is how the game got its name, and it's heavily implied Galatea is the mythological character. One ending lets you enact one of your own as you elect yourself Galatea's teacher when she gets very curious about the outside world.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: You can get Galatea to slander the Greek Gods for her condition and situation, and if you don't word it carefully, her rage focuses on Aphrodite, as love is what drove Galatea's creator from her and left her lonely, which attracts an enraged Aphrodite...
  • Relationship Values: Galatea has hidden relationship values with the player character. What value they are at upon reaching an ending determines which variant of the ending is shown.
  • Schrödinger's Gun:
    • The "Avatar" ending reveals that Galatea is controlled by a woman behind the curtain. This is not necessarily the case outside of this ending — tearing down the curtain will reveal an empty space, and get you kicked out by security or chided by Galatea. Another variant even shows you're the woman controlling Galatea...
    • How true her backstory is and how much you know of her is up in the air; the more philosophical endings regarding her moral code imply she is, in fact, a robot art piece while in others she's really an inanimate statue; in fact, getting one of the secret endings where you use a command word to check for variants of endings implies she's a robot but you can only get the command word from one where she's definitely a (hateful) statue; in others, she's revealed to be some kind of deity. Others explicitly show the existence of the Greek Gods.
    • How much she loved her creator and how broken up she is about it is. Either she truly doesn't miss him, feels sorrow for his loss but it's not enough to start something with you, or is deeply mournful about him.
    • Your PC's backstory, outside of being an art critic. In some endings, you're actually a broken person who lost a sister to cancer; in others, you're a snobby art critic. In others, there's more worldbuilding about artists who also pushed the boundaries of a work vs. the audience and viewer vs. participant.
    • The endings involving the Greek Gods depend on what you had Galatea say; for example, Aphrodite can show up either to comfort Galatea about her lost love and encourage to start anew with you, or kill her for her insolence.
    • In some endings, you note Galatea's Uncanny Valley proportions and how it disturbs you away from getting too close; in others where you're attracted, it's implied these flaws don't exist.
  • Self-Deprecation: In the ending you get if you straight-up ask Galatea about sex, her long, rambling answer makes you leave due to sheer boredom and annoyance, with your character's inner monologue complaining about how there's a million "artistic" stories about artists having trouble with, angsting about, or obsessing over sex. Asking Galatea about the artist on any other route reveals that his ordeal is exactly one of those millions of
"artistic" angst stories.
  • Sense Freak:
    • Galatea hasn't had much experience with sense, and one way to befriending her (or more) is by describing or indulging her senses. An ending variant has you more-or-less seduce her with some well-placed touches. Another ending has you convince her to try some cheese, and she bursts into tears at the taste. This applies to you as well, since your touches get very exploratory in the former, and in another ending, your marveling about her materials and senses later has her reveal her true form.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Galatea's dress exposes her back. This can contribute to tension between her and the player character, who can reach out to examine her body, such as running a finger along her spine.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Invoked in the ending where you manage to tease Galatea into undressing for you: she asks if you can find a place with some scissors so she can oblige your request, which raises a quip from the narration before it smash cuts to black.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The "Eliza" ending, where you use her as a psychotherapist.
      (Someone should write a psychologist program for animates. It would make millions.)
    • In the ending where you get Galatea to talk and get curious, you wind up electing yourself as her teacher.
  • Slasher Smile: In the ending where your manhandling of Galatea results in her snapping your wrist. you desperately try to get her to reset by saying EUDOXIA. All she does is grin mockingly and bloodthirstily, and your character suffers nightmares from the sight alone.
  • Speech-Centric Work: The game is mainly chatting with Galatea.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Certain endings make it clear that you pick up on all the fine imperfections that would give Galatea away as inhuman, even if she were flesh-and-blood — her arms are too long, her head is too strangely proportioned. This is supposedly the reason why Galatea's creator never tried to sleep with her.
      ''No one is so sleek, so unforgiving. The proportions are subtly wrong, too — the size of the head, the shape and width of the mouth..."
    • If you get Galatea to summon Aphrodite, it's noted that from afar, she looks like the gallery owner, but up close, there's something extremely off about her — she's too tall and the light seems to follow her about. In one variant of the ending, you're reduced to a sobbing mess at the sight.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: There's a hidden mechanic aptly named Tension that tracks your PC's lust/romance levels with Galatea. At higher levels, it'll turn Galatea (and your PC)'s lines much more flirtatious, and opens up romantic endings.
  • What the Hell, Player?:
    • Grab Galatea to jostle her about despite her warnings, and you get a broken wrist.
    • Ask enough inappropriate questions and she abruptly gets off the pedestal to get away from your creepy ass.
    • Goad Galatea into slandering the Gods, and they might just smite her. Aphrodite even gives you a nasty look if you force her hand.
    • Bluntly ask Galatea about sex. If you do this immediately, she deliberately chooses an unsexy pose and starts speaking frankly about her artist's hangups, which drives your character away because they've seen way too many boring artistic works about yet another artist's sexual angst. If you do this later in the game and after establishing a rapport with Galatea, it locks you out of the actually sexy ending.
    • Asking Galatea to undress. Depending on your relationship with her, this may get anything from bemusement to snarky amusement at your expense with a quip about if you actually think that works. If you've successfully established enough tension, though, she'll lampshade it does.
    • If you try to mess with the curtain, either in an attempt to get the near-4th-wall-breaking ending, or after getting it, you get kicked out by security for irrationally tearing off a curtain in a fancy art gallery.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: If you summon Dionysus and your answers were wild enough that he offers to take you on a Godlike journey along with Galatea, accepting has you ponder your sanity before it's implied it disappears into Dionysus's eternal bacchanal as the text suddenly turns poetic and abstract.