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About the Story
"You are standing next to the only traffic light in the one-horse town of Erehwon, Aksarben. You are 13 years old, and desperate to gain the approval of Smurf and his gang. You will know you have this when they invite you to join in their [gang] of "Nowhere, Nebraska"." [--blurb from Competition '99]
Nominee, Best Setting - 1999 XYZZY Awards
11th Place - 5th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1999)
A dense web of mathematical puzzles and in-jokes, Erehwon is one difficult game for those who aren't well versed in higher math--and yet it's so wittily done that it's worth playing through with a walkthrough in hand, just to see the prose and appreciate the crafting of the puzzles. You're wandering around the towns of Erehwon, Aksarben and Nowhere, Nebraska, which are linked by what amounts to a Klein bottle, and along the way you turn yourself and other things from matter to antimatter without having the latter come in contact with the former. It's littered with puns and Easter eggs, and obscure pop-culture references, and full of off-kilter humor that takes some getting used to, but it's still plenty of fun.
-- Duncan Stevens
Erehwon is probably not going to unseat Trinity as the benchmark surreal adventure, but it's another fine example. The game takes place in a kind of meta-universe where different parallel universes can be connected according to complicated rules. The plot is minimal - you have to collect a number of objects so that you can take part in a role-playing game (which is, it turns out, a role-playing version of the text adventure). The setting, though, is varied and detailed, and richly imagined.
-- Mike Roberts
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>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
Erehwon reminded me of a Saturday Night Live skit I saw years ago. I don't remember the details very well, and no doubt somebody will step in to correct me, but the basic premise was something along the lines of a group of people who wrote a numbered joke catalog, and when they'd get together for their annual convention, they'd just sit around and say things to each other like "Hey, number 534!" and then roar with laughter. Wandering through Erehwon, I felt like an outsider at that convention. There were plenty of inside jokes, some of which seemed to be oriented towards residents of the U.K., though of course, I couldn't tell. Even the walkthrough would occasionally say things like "If this doesn't mean anything to you, don't worry about it." OK, whatever. But it wasn't even so much the inside jokes that made me feel like an alien visitor as much as it was the heavy emphasis on mathematics and geometry. For me, a game that says "the dual of a Platonic solid!" means about as much as a game that says "Hey, number 534!" Erehwon seems to make a basic assumption that the player will find things like dodecahedrons and Hamiltonian circuits interesting, and that assumption led me to suspect strongly that I'm not part of the target audience for this game.
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In this game, you play a young person who wants to be friends with the town's cool kid and his friends. However, to play his game, you need dice. Five dice. As you go on a search for them, things begin to get weird.
This game incorporates a number of concepts in geometry and topology, such as the Klein bottle (a surface with no inside or outside, which also was featured in Trinity); platonic solids (the five solid shapes which are as symmetric as possible); duality (where vertices and faces of a shape are swapped); Hamiltonian circuits (where you walk through every vertex of a graph without repetition); connected sums (which amounts to wormholes in physics); and a few other references such as the equations for quaternions.
A lot of this amounts to an extended in-joke, but otherwise the game is fairly well put-together. I feel that it would have benefited from some more explanations, such as an in-game textbook.
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This is version 4 of this page, edited by Edward Lacey on 19 April 2013 at 4:28pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item