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IF Only: Le Reprobateur is a refreshing, multimedia story

A Frenchman in a bathtub

Featured post screenshot from Le Reprobateur

Le Réprobateur is an extremely unusual piece of French multimedia IF. It is a personal favorite of mine — so odd, so unlike anything else out there — but for the past few years it has been difficult to recommend to people, because it was not only commercial, but also unreliable about installation. (At least, so reported the friends who tried to play it.) But Le Réprobateur‘s author François Coulon has just re-released it, for free, in a browser-accessible format, and now anyone can get at it. The browser version is a tiny bit less elegant here and there than the original presentation, but what you get in exchange is something that actually functions on a modern computer.

The premise is — well, let me give you Coulon’s own blurb:

Paris, 1984. Gildas is a reprover, a professional hired by his patients to follow them wherever they go and silently condemn their behavior. Called for help by Magali, unable to resist compulsive shopping and French pastries on her own, he starts to fall in love with the young woman, breaking every rule….

The story imagines a role somewhere between priest and personal trainer, and asks how this person might intercept some particular characters, in an alternate 1980s France. What happens when a professional sports team hires a Reprover to keep its athletes in training? When a writer needs reproof to get past writer’s block? To glare at misbehaving lions in the circus?

Meanwhile, there is also a profession of Approvers, whose job is to run around and cheerlead anything you do: a cure for imposter syndrome, anxiety, and generalized forms of cowardice, but not, of course, without its ethical dangers.

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Emily Short

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