The Awakening

by Dennis Matheson


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Number of Reviews: 6
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1-4 of 4

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A short Lovecraftian revenant game, February 10, 2016

In this game, you wake in a grave near a church, and you have to explore it to discover what is going on.

The setting is Lovecraftian, and there are only a few interesting locations. The writing is not bad, and there seem to be no bugs, but some of the puzzles require extremely obscure commands (I'm looking at you, trapdoor).

Overall, not bad, but not incredible.

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Creepy, but Buggy, May 5, 2015

"The Awakening" creates a sense of dread in a creepy setting, and its puzzles are reasonably clever, but it is hampered by several annoying bugs.

Aside from a few guess-the-verb and guess-the-preposition problems, there are a couple places in the game where you can take items, and then view the same location from a different vantage and still see the items you took in their original place.

Nevertheless, the game's unsettling atmosphere overcomes the distractions created by bits of careless programming.

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
But I am in my grave, and, oh, The difference to me!, July 14, 2012
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: horror, Inform

I was going to begin this review by saying: 'Not to be confused with the 2009 game of the same title, genre, initial situation and initial geography,' and then I realised how dumb that sounded. If ever a human being should be allowed to accidentally confuse a pair of games with each other from a position of ignorance, it should be in the case of these two Awakenings, though admittedly this one has a 'The' in front of it.

Now that I have kindly allowed for human fallibility, I can say that Dennis Matheson's lone IF game, 1998's The Awakening, is a well written piece of goth horror in which you wake up in a grave in the pouring rain and must seek to solve the mystery of your predicament. The prose is steeped in Lovecraftian dread and 'unnameable'-ness, and the development of the plot moves strongly in the direction of one of Lovecraft's short tales.

At the time of writing this review, I was mostly in the habit of playing more recent IF games – IE from the mid 2000s and on – and as I played The Awakening, I discovered that I needed to shift my playing style and mindset a bit to accommodate what feels like a game from a different time. The differences were subtle, but they spoke to me about the adventure games I am used to playing, which could be generalised as coming from both the old school and the new school. The 90s games are in a middle period for me. I had no awareness of them at the time, and this one certainly feels more like a small Infocom title than something newer.

The puzzles, though not numerous, are quite finicky and also subtle. Important props are sometimes buried with equal subtley in the room descriptions. It is possible to make your game unwinnable or to miss out on points, and there's also the technical limitation of only one UNDO being allowed. I don't think anyone would say this is a really difficult adventure, and there are in-game hints you can call upon, but it asks a little more of the player puzzle-wise than more modern games.

Atmosphere is king in The Awakening, what with its shuddery graveyard and dilapidated church settings. Some of the gettable objects about the place are just there to enhance the story and the reality of the situation, and there are a couple of nasty NPCs. (Spoiler - click to show)I have to confess that in the case of the guard dog, I only got stuck because I found the description of its chain inadequate. Folks who like non-explicit Lovecraft spinoffs, graveyard spookiness or a bit of rigour in their adventuring should enjoy this middle sized mystery.

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
One of the few games to deserve the "horror" tag, September 29, 2008
by Fra Enrico (Torino, Italy)

Short? Indeed, but creepy, gloomy, scaring enough, with the perfect dose of horror elements: an old church, a graveyard, rain pouring all over you, dead trees, ancient rites, an old and maligne villain.
The game is quite short, but satisfying: the challenges are not too hard, but neither too predictable.
The Lovecraftian background is not so big: of course you can find there a lot of lovecraftian themes, and if you know Lovecraft enough you can easily guess what's happening; but this doesn't spoil the story, since Lovecraft is nothing more than a faint inspiration here.
Most of all, I'd rather put the attention on the horror-style of writing: as a short creepy tale, this game is well written and is one of the few games which can deserve the "horror" tag on them.
A good game, short and to the point, with just few imperfections and a short longevity which make it lesser than it could have been.
Suggested to the beginners of IF - both in writing as in playing!

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