Played to Completion: Yes, several times
Number of Saves: 0
Another puzzle game without a lot of story to go with it, but engaging enough to play with for quite a while. I am always pleased with games that offer multiple puzzle solutions, and particularly so with those that make the outcomes of one choice affect another. Some of the early puzzles affected the equipment available for later ones, which I found interesting. The statements of philosophy for each sect seemed a little bit cheesy at times, but okay, whatever; they're basically cues to the player, to let you know what parameters define each type of puzzle solution, and so I didn't find them especially annoying.
(I thought it was interesting how the "seer" approach lined up with the "hidden item" puzzle in the purple room in Recruit. Effectively in some sense these are games about IF play approaches, and I wonder what it means that there are two such games in the same competition. Are we theorizing about player approaches more than usual these days than we used to? What's in the air?)
There were some technical flaws in the writing; a couple of commas were misplaced, and there were minor misspellings/typos. Nothing huge, but it made the game look ever so slightly less polished.
I played several times; I think I did manage (by destroying the wooden gear in the mirror/lens section when things were in the wrong configuration) to lock myself out of victory at one point. Though again, it's possible that there was an alternative solution I just didn't know about; I never did find the seer's way out of that puzzle, which might well have worked even if I got the mirror and lens permanently out of their correct alignment. That puzzle I found, overall, the most irksome, but perhaps also the most rewarding once I got the general hang of it. My problem was mostly that I was having trouble envisioning it; once I'd played with it enough to understand what was happening, the artisan solution was pretty easy, though I also came up with a warrior solution.
The valve puzzle made me think of something out of Myst or Riven. In fact, I could pretty much see the beautifully-rendered rusty tank in my mind's eye as I played.
Anyway. Less self-assurance and less personality than Recruit, with which it shares a lot of characteristics -- the "testing" premise, the set-piece puzzles of various kinds -- but on the other hand I enjoyed the variety of puzzle solutions more. Some of the ones in Recruit seemed a trifle arbitrary. So ultimately it comes out in about the same place.