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Tale of Tales' FATALE

Can video games be considered art? If you create an image of 32 Campbell's Soup cans, would it be considered art?

I can't really debate what is or what is not art because I don't really know anything about art theory, but there certainly are many game designers who outwardly express that the games they create are works of art. Take, for example, the 360/PC/PS3 game called “Braid” by the now-fairly-famous Jonathan Blow. “Artistic expression” was one of the major focuses in the development of Braid.

Then there is Tale of Tales, an indie development group that specializes in what some might call “art games”, though I'd be hard pressed to call them actual games.

One of their works released last year is called Fatale, which Tale of Tales refers to as “an interactive vignette” about the story of Salome. In the Bible, Salome was the step-daughter of King Herod (right?), and is supposedly responsible for the execution of John the Baptist. However, Fatale is more directly inspired by the play written by Oscar Wilde entitled Salome.

Audio trailer

The events of Fatale happen after the execution of John. You find yourself in a dungeon of sorts, and as time passes, you see veils appear at the bottom of your screen, which most likely represents “the seven veils”. As each veil appears, words taken from Oscar Wilde's play, which are the words of John the Baptist to Salome, appear on the walls. Finally, after the seventh veil and message appears, the door to the dungeon opens, and you are killed by an executioner dressed in black. There doesn't seem to be a way to cheat death in this vignette's introduction.

The next scene has you ascend from the dungeon to the terrace above, where Salome can be found with the head of John the Baptist on a balcony overlooking a city. You could probably say that you play as the spirit of John, but that's left to your own interpretation. From here you can explore the terrace as some sort of floating entity and interact with various things, and there are ways you can see the same scene in a different light.

It's a truly immersive experience. Fatale's visuals and design in conjunction with the atmospheric music really captures your imagination and puts you in the mood of the scene quite well. It's mysterious, creepy, and scary, but at the same time, there is a sense of peace, though perhaps it is more like the type of peace that is connected with death. Or maybe I should say, a sense of resignation to our mortality.

I still don't totally understand what this vignette is trying to say. I probably have to go through it a few more times to get a better idea. However, I do have to comment that Fatale is very thought-provoking and is a must see for those who appreciate experimental art.

Fatale is available for download on the Tale of Tales website for $7.00.

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