Description (in English): 

Galatea is a work of interactive fiction set in an art gallery an undetermined amount of time in the future. The player takes on the role of an unnamed art critic examining works of personality referred to in the story as “animates.” Galatea is the name of one such animate however, unlike the other exhibits at the museum (which are forays into rudimentary artificial intelligence,) Galatea was a sculpted women who simply willed herself to life. The player must interact with Galatea through text commands until they get one of several endings.

It's hard to place Galatea in a single genre. With its “animate” art gallery one could place it in Science Fiction. It relates rather easily to Issac Assimov's works about artificial intelligence, sharing a similar atmosphere and similar thoughts on what it means to be human and what it would be like to be a conscious other, Galatea is fairly speculative in this regard. On the other hand one could say the work is more a piece of Magical Realism or Gothic Fiction, since Galatea's creation is miraculous and is the only thing that's really out of place with the world. Also like many Gothic fiction pieces the human psyche is rather thoroughly examined. The name Galatea is actually a reference to Greek mythology, something that this work seems to be rather fond of. In Greek mythology Galatea was a statue that came to life after her creator fell in love with her.

The tech at work beneath the text is fairly complex. It's not simply a dialogue tree with set responses and limited choices. The game tracks tension, sympathy, mood, and general conversation flow to give players a level of interactivity in conversation that is rarely seen in any examples of modern games. On top of this there are over 400 responses to words and 25+ unique endings. Its method of interaction is very similar to old text adventure games like Zork and its ilk, the player enters commands followed by key terms and the results are narrated.

Overall the work is objectively well written. Its lore of “animates” lends itself rather interestingly to the player. One may look at the work as an example of what interaction with an “animate” from the story's world might be like. Galatea the character being very similar to the “animates’” description from the story. The many varied endings and possible responses lends itself to a very individualized experience. No two readings would be exactly alike and each repeated reading builds upon the world’s lore and the characters of Galatea, the narrator, and Galatea's creator become more fleshed out and grounded. It uses multiple references to Greek mythology which helps give the work an atmosphere of mystery and a kind of oldness to its sci-fi themes.

Technical notes: 

To Begin ... Mac: Download and install Spatterlight if you do not already have a z-machine interpreter. Download and unzip and open the resulting file Galatea.z8 in your interpreter. Windows: Download and install Gargoyle if you do not already have a z-machine interpreter. Download and unzip and open the resulting file Galatea.z8 in your interpreter. Type commands to the main character at the ">" prompt and press enter. Input can take the form of imperatives such as "look," "examine the pedestal," or "touch" followed by some object. The most important commands in Galatea are those that pertain to conversation, which include "ask about" followed by a topic (abbreviated to "a") and "tell about" a topic (abbreviated to "t"). These commands steer the subject of the conversation. The best approach is to follow up on a word or idea that Galatea has herself used, or to talk about objects present in the room. Other important verbs are "think about" followed by a topic to recall a previous topic, and "recap" to review the topics previously discussed.

Screen shots: 
Galatea cover image
Screenshot from Galatea
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Record posted by: 
Jill Walker Rettberg