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2 Stars IFReview Rating Unforgotten

IFReviewed by James Mitchelhi on 2006-10-16 06:00 

Game Profile

Author
Quintin Pan

Idiom
English

Authoring System
Inform6

Release Year
2005

IFR Overall Rating
2 Stars IFR Overall Rating
Separator

I'm not sure the author will ever forgive me for this review. But that's none of my business. In my review of the excellent Chancellor, I mentioned that it takes a very good game to keep me playing for two hours. I've learnt something now. A bad game can keep me playing that long, too, provided it's bad enough. And Unforgotten delivered in every way.

It's not just the writing (which we'll get to shortly), but the implementation is rather shoddy. In the very first room:

> jump
(off the bathroom door)
You jump on the spot, fruitlessly.

That's not too bad a bug though. It's easily missed. I always type jump as one of the first commands in any game, but this could be considered perverse. There's a worse bug lurking, though. If you have not examined Simon's chest:

> look under pillow
You've done that already. No need to disturb it more than you have to.

Um. No, I haven't done that already. It's also rather poor implementation when SEARCH BED doesn't even clue for the fact that there's a key beneath the pillow. That first scene was annoying because of the constant need to disambiguate betwen my bunk and chest and Simon's bunk and chest. Also, It's all very well the author telling us to examine everything, but everything is underimplemented. Consider this:

> remove glasses
You take off the glasses.

> look
You can't see anything without your glasses!

> listen
You can't see or do anything without your glasses!

I can't listen without my glasses on? Do they have built-in hearing-aids?

The puzzles seem to have been designed with no reference to reality. At one point the PC has to feed a drugged pie to some guard dogs. The dogs are on the other side of a gate. The player cannot give the dogs the pie directly because he fears they would bite his hand off. The obvious thing to do is to throw it to them. But, no, according to the author and in direct contradiction of the aim of the puzzle:

> throw pie
You'd rather keep it.

No, I wouldn't. The PC eventually climbs one of the walls. You'd think he could now just drop it and it will fall to the ground where the dogs will eat it. You'd be wrong:

> give pie to dogs
You can't reach!

> drop pie
You think it would be wise to rather hang on to the pie.

No. I wouldn't. The actual solution involves putting the pie on the end of a fishing line and dangling it down to the dogs. And how is this is functionally different to throwing it? It's hard to say. At no point does the author provide the player with anything like a justification for this bizarre logic.

All this is bad enough, but it's not enough to completely destroy a game. For that honour, we have to look at the author's prose. This is a writer who will never use a five dollar word when he can find a hundred dollar one in his thesaurus. "Look at me!" he seems to be saying. "Look at all the words I know!" And as his readers we're supposed to be incredibly impressed. I just laughed. And laughed. Then I laughed some more. This is why I was still playing after two hours. The time spent marvelling at the author's incredible misuse of language slowed my progress. I collected particularly egregious examples as I went.

Of the bathroom: "It's hardly a room." Well, it has walls and a door. Looks like a room to me.

"Throughout the journey, you get execrated glares from Zed." I'm not entirely sure how someone manages to construct so poor a sentence without intending to. There's so much wrong with it.

1. Phrasing this passively lessens its impact. There's no good reason to do so. 2. Using the word "get" is lazy and inaccurate here. You don't "get" glares; you see them. 3. There's no need for a comma. 3. "Execrated". Oh dear. The author is desperately trying to impress us with his vocabulary. 4. Unfortunately, the author doesn't actually know what this word means. The glares are not execrated. This would mean that the glares themselves were being hated. What the author means is: "You get execrative glares from Zed". And even that sentence is hideous.

"A single light flickers chokingly from the ceiling, peeling the walls away." I find it difficult to even articulate why this sentence is so awful. Did the author even read what he was typing? Why did he think that the way the light flickered needed to be described with two adverbial phrases? I can just about imagine a light that flickers chokingly, but "peeling the walls away"? Now there's a truly bizarre image.

"A plant sits at either side of the entrance as well as the briefing room to the south." I believe this is what they call a "garden path" sentence. Is it the briefing room that sits either side of the entrance? "The unfamiliar emptiness echoes the buzz of a freezer in the far corner." This is a bad description. Emptiness doesn't echo. Sounds reflect from surfaces.

"One swift movement from Simon was all it took. The lid flies open and the lock dangles from it." In the first sentence we are in the past tense, which implies the lid has already been opened. In the second sentence we've travelled back in time and suddenly the lid is flying open again.

"Everything slowly fades away into the white fugue, but you know beyond the tranquil illusion, dozens of buildings lie in ruin from the everyday bombings that plague this area." Once again the author has no idea of the meaning of the pretty words he chooses to use. A fugue is a musical composition where a number of different instruments repeatedly play variations on a phrase. A fugue state is a disocciative break after a traumatic event. I'm not sure which the author was going for in his overblown metaphor as neither really seems to apply.

"Other than a few twitching bodies, the place is vacated." Odd way of putting it. "The place is vacant" or "the place has been vacated".

"A flash of loud whiteness followed by a phantasmagoric sequence of memories. Then it all fades..." Loud whiteness? And while "a phantasmagoric sequence of memories" does make sense, I could very happily never see the word "phantasmagoric" in any piece of fiction ever again.

"Simon's last words cling to you as the image of his sad expression stays forever engrafted in your mind." There appear to be two main uses of the word "engrafted". One is archaic/poetic usage in the bible. The other is as a technical term in medicine and genetics. Which one did the author mean?

"Shepherd's Rock didn't cartographically exist."

"You find yourself in the heart of a grassy saddle." Using the lesser known meaning of a common word leads to unintentional hilarity.

"Smeared by a thick layer of droplets, the sketch of the ocean to the west ripples in and out of a dream." Huh?

I could go on all night. It's not funny because it's bad. It's funny because the author so obviously thinks it's good. This would be a great game to play with friends. Gather round the computer with copious quantities of your beverage of choice. Take a drink every time you see a sentence that makes you cringe.

If the author doesn't hate me now, I've not been reviewing it right. I award one point for effort and another for unintentional hilarity, giving the unforgettable Unforgotten a grand total of two points.

James Mitchelhi Profile

IFReviewer Rating
3 Stars IFReviewer Overall Rating

Name James Mitchelhi
Gender Male