IFReviewed by Andrew Plotkin on 2006-06-25 10:05
Very nice all around. I'm not quite sure I like the story, of itself; it feels a bit pat; it doesn't go quite far enough in any direction (the surreal, the horrifying, the convoluted). (Although those elements are certainly all present). This is a small reservation. The game is very good.
The setting is a familiar one -- the opening text recalls Brazil, and of course there are many other examples in the literature. But I haven't seen it done in IF, at least not this well, and the complicity really does make a difference. Watching Brazil, you're constantly dreading what you'll see: how much worse can the world get?
But in IF, you (the protagonist) already knows how bad the world is. The question becomes, how much worse am I (my situation, the system which I passively support, myself) going to get? Very funky use of the protagonist/player tension.
Writing, excellent. I was particularly impressed by long sequences of similar rooms, each of which was nonetheless described vividly and distinctly. Yes.
The plotline is very focussed and well-hinted. Quite a large game, and I never looked at hints once; nor do your actions feel unduly forced. An exception is the conversation system, where your only choice is usually to talk or not to talk -- and important conversations proceed (over several turns) whether or not you use the "talk" command. However, this actually didn't bother me. I certainly prefer this system to long cut scenes (non-interactive), or to conversation menus (which give you choices, but in an awkward, immersion-shattering way).
(The other time your actions feel forced, I should mention, is if you restore and try to take a different path. There are options, but they rapidly converge back to the main plotline.)