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Video Game / Shade

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Shade is a one-room Interactive Fiction game made by Andrew Plotkin in 2000. It takes place in the player character's apartment the night before a planned trip to an arts festival. Your ostensible goals are to complete your household chores and make sure that you have everything ready for your trip. Of course, things become more complicated later on...

To say anything more would spoil this game's unique playing experience; in fact, most of the tropes listed below are major spoilers in name alone, so it's strongly recommended to play through the game at least once before reading them (and the YMMV page).

You can download the game here or play it online here.

This game contains the following tropes:

  • But Thou Must!: Either you do the actions required to advance the plot, or you stay stuck until you do.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: Over the course of the game, your hyacinth plant turns into a spider plant, then a fern, and finally a cactus.
  • Disguised Horror Story: Starts out as a simple search for your plane tickets, but when sand begins pouring from every crevice in your apartment, things quickly begin going downhill.
  • Dream Apocalypse: Made even creepier by how you seem to actually be exulting in smashing the remnants of your doomed dream midway through the game.
  • Foreshadowing: Your thirst at the beginning of the game, the radio broadcast about people missing in the desert, the helicopter you hear passing over your apartment...
    • The plant on your windowsill changes repeatedly, going from a hyacinth to a spider plant to a cactus, with no mention of this made by the protagonist. It also gets drier and drier as the game progresses, even after you water it.
    • Your refusal to draw the shade on the window, with the comment that "you do not want the dark." Similarly, attempting to open the front door when the taxi is outside leads the game to say, "You do not want that."
  • Guide Dang It!: In the middle section of the game, it becomes extremely difficult to figure out what you're supposed to be doing when everything in the apartment starts bursting into piles of sand, especially when interacting with it seems to do nothing. Slightly subverted in that there is one in-game clue - the to-do list, which now changes to reflect the next area to turn into sand. However, by this point in the game, it will have been so long since interacting with that item, it's likely you forgot it was even still there and looked up a guide instead.
  • Hope Spot: You find yourself back in an intact apartment after seemingly turning almost everything in it to sand, and you hear the sound of your taxi ride to the airport pulling up outside. Except that when you try to do anything, your entire apartment vanishes, leaving you stranded in the desert.
  • Last Place You Look: Your airplane tickets will always be in the last of three possible locations you search.
  • Mind Screw: Okay, you're most likely suffering from a near-death hallucination in the desert, but what's up with the shadow that tries to hide from you, is harmed if you so much as speak to it, and says "it's my turn now" when it's supposedly "dead"?
  • Minimalist Cast: You are the only character in the game, with the possible exception of the small figure that appears when your apartment finally crumbles away.
  • Sarcastic Title: The game's title is "Shade," the only thing you have none of, as you are stranded in the middle of the desert under a blazing sun.
  • Revealing Continuity Lapse: The aforementioned changing plant, which serves as foreshadowing that the entire apartment is a hallucination and you're actually in the desert.
  • Thirsty Desert: Where you plan on heading for the Death Valley Om, and where you've been slowly wasting away for the entirety of the game.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The taxi doesn't show up until the very end, when your Dying Dream has pretty much crumbled to pieces.
  • You Can't Get Ye Flask: Some dialogue options are a bit confusing.