Tag Archives: design

XP: Pulse

17 Nov

Pulse is an interesting game to me. On one hand I feel like it is what I wanted Microscope to be. On the other, it is a mixed experience. For the first half of the game I feel like the game isn’t delivering and by the end I love it. I’ve played it twice now, and that was my experience both times.

So, I’m going to complain a bit. The text is very unclear in some spots (well, the translation is, anyway), and I just don’t know if I’m understanding it or not. Some sentences are missing words – important ones, too. Turns out, after a brief exchange with the game’s designer, some of these mystifying clauses are left overs from earlier stages of the game’s development. The end product is actually a much simpler game, which I think is a very good thing. However, there is no guidance for various sections, and asking good questions in the Investigation Phases is super important. Expect to lean on your intuition for your first few playthroughs. The fiction you create is always unexpected and super interesting though. So it works, even if it feels like it may not be running smoothly.

I feel as though this game isn’t a story game (I guess, actually, it’s not billed as one, though I got that impression). I think it’s actually some kind of stealth freeform theater game. By the end you are acting out a peculiar tribunal, and you are invested in defending your interpretation of events. I honestly think it bears many marks of being pseudo-jeepform in style. At least, that was how it struck me. When I run it again I plan to emphasize those elements and see what happens.

A short XP, but I really don’t have much else to say. I am absurdly fond of Pulse, but it has it’s warts. I think the final version of the game – which is a later revision from the GameChef entry – addresses most of the speed bumps I’ve mentioned, if not all of them. I think a patient read (while making notes) and a little inspiration could make for some memorable experiences. Also, it’s a fairly slow game, and I found it very useful for playing when my mind feels thick. It warmed me up for the second day of Technicolor Dreams, and that was kind of a life-saver!

I know I’ve whined a lot here, but this is actually a very positive review. Pulse will be one of the games I use to introduce new players, right next to Fiasco and Archipelago.