Ceremony of Innocence

Review by Jen

Ceremony of Innocence is quite unlike anything I have ever played before, and I find myself at a loss for how to begin this review. I guess I will take the pragmatic approach and just describe it.

Ceremony of Innocence is not really a game, adventure or otherwise. Rather, it is a piece of interactive fiction, in the literal sense of the phrase. It is based on the Griffin and Sabine trilogy of illustrated epistolary novels by Nick Bantock. The story unfolds in three parts, and it is presented through an exchange of postcards and letters between Sabine Strohem, who lives on an obscure island chain in the South Pacific, and Griffin Moss in England, both artists. Sabine writes to Griffin as if she already knows him, and he, puzzled, inquires as to whether he should know her. You soon come to find out that Sabine can "see" Griffin's artwork as he draws it and only now finds out who he is, and they begin a regular correspondence and come to fall in love with each other. This is one story that is best left to the player (or reader) to discover and interpret for her/himself, so I will leave it at that. I will say that it takes some bizarre twists along the way.

The story unfolds, as I said, through Sabine and Griffin's exchange of letters. You are presented with a picture, and you must figure out how to get at the text inside, or on the other side in the case of the postcards. Sometimes you can do so simply by moving your mouse or clicking on part of the picture; sometimes you get a cursor, sometimes you don't; and sometimes it is downright puzzling to figure out what you need to do. Therein lies the only part of the software that can be called a "game." The postcards and envelopes are all a feast for the eyes, with beautiful, quirky, whimsical animations, and the pictures impart the emotions that will appear in the letter or foreshadow things to come.

The voice acting ("reading" in this case) is superb. Paul McGann plays the part of Griffin, and Isabella Rossellini is Sabine. There is a third character later on, voiced by Ben Kingsley. All three of them made me fully believe in their characters. The music is also very, very well-done. Every aspect of the game perfectly meshes to create an immersive experience, in fact, a work of art.

Unlike so many games, Ceremony of Innocence is one title that will linger in my imagination for a long time to come. So much is left open to interpretation that it bears mulling over, and yet the story is complete. For me, playing this CD was a magical, mysterious experience, and I look forward to reading Nick Bantock's printed trilogy. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Real World MultiMedia Ltd.
Publisher: Real World MultiMedia Ltd.
Release Date: 1997

Available for: Macintosh Windows

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System Requirements

Windows 95
16-bit color graphics at 640x480 resolution
2x CD-ROM drive
Quicktime 2.1 (included)
RSX and DirectX (included)
Sound Blaster 16 or compatible sound card
Headphones or speakers

2x CD-ROM drive
System 7.1 or greater
16-bit audio card
16-bit color graphics at 640x480 resolution
Quicktime 2.5 (included)
Headphones or speakers

Where to Find It

Womad Shop £15.99

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