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Review of Embracelet

Legend has it there’s a birdwatcher on Slepp.

Embracelet is a casual 3D adventure game centered on a magic (telekinetic) bracelet and a teenager on the edge of adulthood who is given a quest by his grandfather to go to a remote, depopulated fishing island, Slepp, in northern Norway to return the artifact.

I had previously played Milkmaid of the Milky Way, by the same developer. That was a short, more traditional point-and-click adventure about a rural milkmaid who boards a spaceship to save her abducted milk cows. Both are built around kind and humanist narratives.

I played it via Proton/WINE and used an old console controller (per the game’s recommendation to play with a controller). When I first booted the game, before I opted to use a controller, the mouse cursor wasn’t showing up, so maybe controller is best? The joystick controls were manageable, but I think I would have preferred to play with mouse and keyboard, as I found using a joystick to move the cursor mildly annoying.

The graphics are simple, but pleasing and consistent for the style. One flaw there was a semi-subtle global reflection applied to the world. I didn’t like the look of that, and I’m not sure why it was there, but from time to time I noticed it and felt it was a distraction from the overall aesthetic.

The principle action of Embracelet takes place on Slepp, with several different quests to be found as you explore. The gameplay and events are fairly spectacular, and the game does a good job of keeping its pacing between exposition and simple puzzles. The only pain points for me were the follower events where you have to follow NPCs, which always feels a bit annoying.

The least explicable part of the game is the lack of any accommodation for the main character on Slepp. Where does he sleep? Does he eat? Is he actually a robot?! The game never gives up the goods on those key questions. (Minor un-spoiler, the game never truly explains the origin of the magic bracelet, either.)

Embracelet shares many aspects of a traditional adventure game, it attempts to do so within a semi-open-world design. I am glad to see this attempted, and I hope it will be attempted more in the future. While there will always be a place for 2D adventure games, the basic elements aren’t particularly tied to that format, and I continue to believe the format can have a broader appeal with 3D environments, either as thirdperson (in this case) or firstperson.

While this is a short game (it took me about eight hours (three playthroughs) to complete it, including all the achievements), it was a nice look at a world touched by magic. If you like traditional adventure games or coming-of-age fare, this one is a low-key story game that’s worth a look.

Pondering Heat Stress and Dosimetry

Stay hydrated, get some shade, and take breaks.

The original dosimeter was made to detect radiation exposure. The original types, disposable, worked by making it apparent how much chemical change had resulted from ionization. Modern radiation dosimetry uses electronic sensors to achieve the same purpose, but are more accurate and reusable. (See OSHA: “Ionizing Radiation”: Dosimeters.)

There are also dosimeters for noise. They detect how much loud noise a worker is subjected to over time, in order to help protect their hearing. (See OSHA: “Occupational Noise Exposure”.)

And there is dermal dosimetry, which isn’t broadly developed, but is meant to measure how much of some environmental contaminant or toxin gets deposited on a worker’s skin. (See OSHA: “Dermal Exposure”.)

But I haven’t found much about heat dosimetry. (See OSHA: “Heat Illness Prevention” for general information about occupational heat stress.)

The labor problem of extreme heat may require the creation of a new type of dosimeter. This might be called thermal dosimetry, but that already refers to quantifying how much heat a medical patient receives in therapeutic hyperthermia—the use of heat to treat cancers.

Heat dosimetry would need to monitor a person’s time in environments that harm their body’s ability to regulate temperature. It’s a complex problem, which has been avoided in favor of self-monitoring and following general guidelines (access to shade, water, and breaks; monitoring environmental conditions generally, including sunlight and the heat indexed temperature).

It is somewhat complicated by the concept of acclimatization. People who are exposed to hot environments see their bodies adapt to be better suited to work in those environments. A gradual increase in exposure over a week or two makes the body better at sweating and maintaining body temperature in hot environments. (See CDC: NIOSH: “Heat Stress Acclimatization”.)

Would a theoretical heat dosimeter need to be calibrated or toggled for acclimatization? Only to a point. There are limits to how well the body can adapt to extreme heat and humidity, and so at levels beyond those, measuring strict exposure time would be enough.


Heat is a combination of several factors. Air temperature is the most obvious, but sun exposure and humidity are very important as well. There is also the surroundings, what the person wears, general fitness, and acclimatization. Finally, the type of activity the person engages in has a major effect in how rapidly they heat up.

If a heat dosimeter existed, it would need at least three components. One would monitor sunlight, another ambient temperature, and the third would measure humidity. Some reference values would be needed, but calculating the heat index with an adjustment for sun exposure would probably add up to a basic dose-check that could be used.

Unlike other exposure dosimeters, the big difference with heat is rapid recovery time—if the person has not been overexposed. While radiation, noise, and toxins provoke absolutely cumulative harms, heat exposure (up to a limit) can be tolerated with rest and removal from bad conditions. That’s an argument both in favor and against using dosimetry: it’s a recoverable condition, and regular breaks with relief from the heat are sufficient protection, but if only vitals are monitored, waiting for warning signs may be harmful.

On the other hand, measuring symptoms might work better than the traditional dosimetry approach. Monitoring the heat stress symptoms of the person may prove a better fit than trying to treat the problem like typical exposure dosimetry. That would include heart rate, body temperature, and hydration level.

Measuring acclimatization is important as well, and could probably be derived from the other measures. A person’s level of acclimatization can vary from day to day, depending on other stresses they may be under (including how much sleep they’ve had, dietary fluctuations), so acclimatization shouldn’t be treated as a binary.


Better heat-monitoring tools are definitely needed. Whether it’s practical or desirable to monitor exposure to environmental heat remains to be seen. Monitoring vitals directly, rather than exposure, has the benefit of alerting to other conditions and issues. Having regular breaks and access to adequate shade and cold water are enough to prevent most heat issues up to a point. Beyond that point, measuring heat doses may be important.

There are other alternatives to working in hot environments. Night work or temporarily and partially conditioned environments may be possible, but come with their own challenges. Night shifts cause sleep-related stresses and has some extra costs associated with it. Partial conditioning of a work environment requires extra labor and costs. How those costs stack up against working with heat isn’t clear.

For example, installing fixed poles for stretching tarps or canopies over a field to provide shade during fieldwork might be a practical mitigator for farms. Roadwork can benefit from night shifts, as it reduces traffic woes as well.

All that being said, it’s likely some companies have or will explore heat dosimetry. And it’s likely that at least some workers would benefit from it, even in the presence of direct monitoring of their vital signs and health. It will be interesting to see what the devices look like and how they operate.

It’s sure that the world is getting hotter from climate change, and we have to keep looking for ways to adapt.

Review: The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark

Not actually an American football simulation at all!

The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark is the sequel to The Darkside Detective, a point-and-click adventure game. It is divided into cases, as was its predecessor. The case-based adventure game has become a subgenre of sorts, though I am not aware of its origins. (Oniria Crimes (diehealthy.org: “Review of Oniria Crimes) and Nobodies spring to mind. The latter is a different spin on point-and-click, in that the goal is to quietly dispose of corpses.)

Whatever the cause of the trend, it is a reasonable way to break up development and still create a cohesive game, as shown by The Darkside Detective and this sequel. Like the previous game (and like the others mentioned) there is usually some connection between cases, which makes each case feel like an episode rather than an isolated story to itself.

Here you play as Detective Francis McQueen, now-formerly of the Darkside Division of the Twin Lakes Police Department. The darkside isn’t a reference to the yin-aspect of the Star Wars force, but to an alternate dimension or parallel universe where things are kind of screwy (in a different way than they’re normally screwy). The darkside itself doesn’t feature as heavily or directly in this game as in the first one.

Each case follows the same basic shape that detective stories have since Sherlock Holmes first solved a case. There’s the exposition, in which we find out the nature of the case. There’s the rising action when we uncover clues as to who’s responsible or, in the case of point-and-clicks, we cobble together inventory items into solutions to puzzles. And finally, there’s the denouement, when we pull the disguise off of someone and they complain about us and our dog foiling their scheme.

Case locations include an older-peoples’ home (the grandmother of your sidekick, Dooley, lives there), Ireland (not the whole island, but a castle there, the ancestral home of your sidekick), a carnival, a pro-wrestling event, and your highschool reunion. There are also two bonus cases (with a third planned, according to the case selection screen). The first bonus is a nice time-travel case for Christmas (loosely after Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol), and the other is occasioned by your sidekick’s nephew being missing.

The writing has good humor to it, including some absurdity which I always enjoy. It does tend toward memery in places, but it’s not terribly online. The writing is British English, which is kind of strange at times given the game takes place in America. But it’s not really America is it? It’s a fictional America where British gamemakers have replaced America with a British imagining of an America—bizarro America—where supernatural things happen. In any case, the puzzles tend to the easy side, and are mostly logical.

It took me about 14 hours to complete eight cases and all the achievements. If you want an easy-ish, pixel-graphics adventure game, particularly one with light elements of supernatural themes, give it a look.