Jigsaw

by Graham Nelson

Time Travel/Historical/Romance
1995

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- Frodelius, September 19, 2021

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
20th Century Tidbits, August 4, 2021
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: Puzzler, History

I remember getting a very intimidating book as a present when I was a small child. I was amazed that it had more than a thousand pages. It seemed impossible that anyone would get through such a huge story. It turned out to be a "365 Bedtime Fairytales"-book, with a 3-page story for each night.

What was a relief in the case of the bedtime book turned out to be a disappointment in the case of Jigsaw, a game I had been looking forward to playing for a long time.

Instead of a sweeping epic story taking me past the turning points of recent history, I got 16 smallish (but hard) bedtime puzzles barely held together by an overarching plot. Just as with the bedtime-book, Jigsaw took a long time to finish. I would hardly call it a big game though. More a series of historical vignettes, to be experienced and enjoyed at the player's leisure.

As for the overarching plot, anyone's guess is as good as mine. Here's what I made of it: Black has a plan to change the past to mold the present and/or future to Black's priorities/preferences. You don't want that. (Even if some of the changes Black tries to make are really good ideas, like (Spoiler - click to show)preventing World War I...) Your task is to find and reverse the temporal disturbances Black leaves in his wake as he visits certain important times in the 20th century. Black's and your motives for all of this remain in the dark (to me, at least).

After a confusing introductory sequence (where you need to find an unmentioned exit to progress, not for the only time in this game...), you arrive in the central hub/control centre. From here you can access the different time-areas where you need to solve a puzzle.

Fortunately, the time-areas are mostly independent from each other. As you enter one, you should be able to find everything needed to fix the temporal disturbance. This makes the puzzles merely hard, instead of impossible. Allthough the number of rooms and available objects is limited in every area, you have to time your actions carefully and execute them in a particular order. SAVE and RESTORE are necessary parts of the gameplay.

Most of the historical vignettes were very enjoyable, clearly well-researched and very satisfying to solve. Some were either too hard, or were solvable but took me far into try-everything-on-everything terrain.

I missed a cohesive backstory tying this game together as a whole. However, it's well worth exploring and trying to solve the puzzles independently. As I said: very satisfying.


- Karlok (Netherlands), April 14, 2021

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
An enjoyable journey through the twentieth century, December 5, 2020
by Wynter (London, UK)

It is New Year's Eve, 1999, and a mysterious stranger drops you a piece of a seemingly ordinary jigsaw. But each piece turns out to be a gateway to a different event in the twentieth century. Can you make history?

I came to this game fresh from Nelson's wonderful game *Curses!*, looking for something similar. It simultaneously is and isn't. Like that of *Curses!*, *Jigsaw*'s a nicely large game world, which allows you to jump in and out of different times and different places. Each jigsaw piece is a mystery: where are you going to go next? The overall tone is considerably different to that of the earlier game: it is much more sombre, dealing with the tragedies and crises of the twentieth century. There is, however, a romance, and there are a few moments of humour(Spoiler - click to show), such as when you rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Each jigsaw piece is a relatively self-contained mini-game: actions taken in one chapter rarely have an impact on others. This may or may not appeal: I enjoyed the sprawling, ever-growing environment of *Curses!*, where an object found in one place might open up another area of the game; but it helped to be able to concentrate the mind on a small area, containing one or two puzzles. Some of the chapters were over quickly, with just one or two actions to complete; many puzzles were difficult, and I am grateful for Bonni Mierzejewska's walkthrough. Examine everything, look under things, and talk to characters.

Each chapter clearly has a great deal of historical research behind it (and there are footnotes to each one in the Help menu), so it's a game that is both informative and entertaining.


- quackoquack, June 10, 2020

- katerinaterramare, May 20, 2020

- kierlani, May 11, 2020

- Elizabeth DeCoste (Canada), April 2, 2020

- Walter Sandsquish, March 9, 2020

- Stian, June 20, 2019

- Nomad, December 7, 2018

- Solanacean, September 1, 2018

- DustyCypress (Hong Kong), May 19, 2018

- WetCheese, March 31, 2018

- Zape, December 14, 2017

- Denk, November 6, 2017

- ifMUD_Olly (Montana, USA), April 21, 2017

- winterfury (Russia), December 10, 2016

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Jigsaw completely lives up to its name., June 9, 2016

After a years-long hiatus from IF, I went into this game, thinking that it would be namby-pamby, and when I started playing it, I still thought it would be thread-bare, with its initially spare descriptions. I was SO wrong. It turned out to be one of the most complicated games I have ever played(and I am an Infocom veteran, having played such hard nuts as Spellbreaker). I had to look at a walkthrough, by golly. This game has many areas, which correspond to certain events in world history. One plus that I appreciated was that I came out of this game feeling more educated, I had learned from it, or was inspired to do so. A minus was that it was not obvious to me what order in which I could solve each area. There is at least one instance where you definitely have to solve one area before approaching another, and you do not get another opportunity in that area unless you start over or go back to a previously saved position(and this is where I felt compelled to consult the walk-through--only to find out that I had no such position I could go back to, and had to start over). But most other areas can be solved in any order. I would recommend being especially watchful, by EXAMINE-ing and SEARCH-ing everything within reason. As with Curses!(Graham Nelson's other big game) and Jon Ingold's games, I would not recommend this game for a beginner, mainly because of the frequent shifts in setting and the sheer perspective of the plot. And there are certain actions that you will need to take that are not entirely obvious--or even obvious at all--that may stall out a beginner early in the game. For example, (Spoiler - click to show)it took me a long time to figure out what to do with the pyramid in the initial sequence(how was I to know that I could climb it!? I can see how some might have given up.).
This game is as full of nutcrackers as it is full of personality and color. Mr. Nelson made it just as intricate and at least as challenging as his other game Curses!(which I also recommend to experienced players). Be sure to exploit every object that you find, use it even if its purpose is not entirely clear, and look under and search every place and object possible. And please, (Spoiler - click to show)remember to sketch the animals! if you want a satisfying ending!


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Too difficult for most without a walkthrough, little to do when you get stuck., February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: more than 10 hours

This is a game with a huge world. The writing is excellent, with interesting historic tidbits and a fun NPC.

However, the game is full of hard puzzles that leave little room to do anything elseif you are stuck. Unlike other games with huge worlds (Zork, Curses, etc.), this game is pretty linear.

Another issue is that many of the puzzles are simply unfair. As other reviewers noted, you are required to look in places you are never told you can look. I got stuck for hours at a time two or three times, and each time was due to an invisible exit I didn't know I could use.


- Veraloo, January 20, 2016

- SleepyEmp, May 24, 2015

- Thrax, March 11, 2015

- kala (Finland), October 18, 2014

- ngmiller (Boulder, CO), June 9, 2014


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