(Spoiler - click to show)Murder, arson and jaywalking. Or arson, anyway.
This is the sequel to "If I Wasn't Shy". Go and play that one first if you haven't yet, it won't take long.
Those who would enjoy a rambling discourse on sequels and continuity will find one below the cut. There are also spoilers.
(Spoiler - click to show)
Continuity always intrigues me, usually for its intrinsic connection to the fandom I'm looking up, but partly because the pattern recognition involved in its construction is a process that I find inherently entertaining. The ability to draw inferences seems to be a defining aspect of human intelligence, for both good and ill (scientific investigations versus conspiracy theories). I can generally contrive to get some deep enjoyment out of a guide to any media, if it be sufficiently lovingly detailed, by observing the manner in which small details are used to build up a logical system almost from thin air. In some ways it's more fun doing this with an unfamiliar fandom, because you're making your own pattern recognitions as you go along. (This sort of thing will be familiar to anyone who has read a D&D manual without ever trying the associated roleplay. It is also somewhat akin to this XKCD strip regarding sandwiches.)
The relative lack of interactive fiction that builds on itself thus came as a surprise to me (this is something that I'm looking forward to in Infocom games as I play more of them, and Marius Muller's Alex and Paul series, for that matter). I wonder whether it's because it's so easy to just put everything that you might want to say in a story in one complete project? Whether thinking of interactive fiction as stories with a definable end means that sequels seem besides the point? Or perhaps it's just because there's less of a sense of "privileged" media in IF then in, say, fan fiction circles where the book/television/movie will always be more important. This might lessen the pressure to build on the details of a single world when there is always the attraction of a brand new world to tempt creators. I am speculating wildly.
So this is where "All Alone" comes in. Logistically, this could be a part of the first game. A version of "If I Wasn't Shy" where you immediately proceed to the car theft/arson/walking away is entirely plausible. Nevertheless, it would have been less good for the story. It makes sense that this person's entire behaviour patterns don't necessarily change even after their big theft, and that it's possible to revert to type. This is a storytelling point that would be buried in a single longer game, but is perfect in two.
In brief: I wish more games built on each other, these two do and are fun to play. Hurrah!
Recommended for: not *immediately* after "If I Wasn't Shy". Noodle around for a while. Play some more Apollo games. Then come back and see what you think.
I have played both the bugged version (in the tempting Internet link) and the unbugged (downloaded to a proper interpreter) version of this.
The unbugged version is amusing enough, in its way. It's Tetris. The probability that you have found your way to this page without playing Tetris is vanishingly small, but if so, then you may now avail yourself of the opportunity. Learn to enjoy the shapes. Consider trying a version with music next time. It is a joke not requiring a critic's explanation.
As for the bugged version...those who do not enjoy long reviews can skip the rest.
(Spoiler - click to show)Still here? You already know this scene off by heart. It is late night. The lights are off, leaving only an ethereal glow from the computer monitor. Yours truly is in a sleepy groove of lazy browsing, jumping casually from hyperlink to hyperlink, in that pattern of ecstatic information gathering doubtless familiar to Internet denizens everywhere. A game of Tetris presents itself. Very good! Let it be played.
A note regarding the implicit philosophical underpinnings of our binary Skinner box. Tetris is, as has been noted by other minds before me, a starkly pure vision of mortality. Blocks fall. You place the blocks. You score beautiful victories with straights. You despair over the awkward falls of Z-blocks. Maybe you find yourself living the good life of block placing. Time passes, your reactions slow, the screen fills with loose ends and uncertainties. You die.
Unless you're in a bugged version with no timed events, in which you control the downward progression of the blocks.
It begins the same way, with a little extra keyboarding. You move the blocks. You push them down. You make the odd mistake. Careful manoeuvring fixes this over the course of many turns. You are pleased with yourself, as you normally would.
But it goes on, and on, and you keep going, even though your eyes have started to smart from setting up the rows (it would be churlish to note that these are very small shapes, but, well, they are), and because you can't die. Correction: you will die, but only when you choose to make the mistake. It has become your responsibility to live, the creed dictated by a thousand other games - a thousand other games of Tetris, perhaps! - and so you continue, long after it stops being fun, because there doesn't seem any way to end it. This is a world without time, where it's not worthwhile speaking of events, not because they don't happen, but because stripping away causality renders them meaningless. There is no satisfaction in vanishing a set of blocks when your ability to do so was never in doubt.
Lost in an endlessness of the witching hour, you set a goal, an arbitrary goal, but an achievable goal, one far closer than the end of infinity. A hundred lines, perhaps. Maybe there will be an Easter Egg at the end of a hundred lines. Some small taste of human acknowledgement, buried in the numbers. Anything is possible.
And in a crazed, yet slow - excruciatingly slow! - progression, you work your way there. Ninety two lines. Ninety-six lines. Ninety-seven. Ninety-eight.
A hundred and two.
Nothing has changed.
In despair, you ram down the blocks on top of each other, willing your death. It comes.
The game resets. More blocks. An infinity of blocks.
And you ram the space bar down, down, watching the waterfall of blocks, cascading, expecting an end, and there is no end. There will never be an end. Infinity blasts into your soul and settles itself inside, leaving the wound too numbed for anguish.
You close the browser window and go play something by Porpentine instead.
I have been unable to determine whether I should score this with one star or five, and have settled for a weak, vacillating compromise. Perhaps I shouldn't have rated it at all.
Recommended for: any night you may happen to be dismal about the brevity of life. You will find this a ready cure.