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Gorm - A Large Historical Time Travel Game , September 5, 2023
Gorm, written by Chris Allen for which he was paid the princely sum of £40 and appearing as a cover disc on a 1994 edition of Achimedes World is an unusual game for its time in some ways. It is a very large (over 300 locations) and easy to screw up puzzle fest that feels more like a game from a decade earlier. Having said that, the strong parser does feel more like a modern game as do the large number of NPCs with which you have to engage.
The game was written for the Archimedes PC in 1994 as a way of avoiding studying for exams. What better motive could anyone need?
The back story involves a sinister plot by one Baron Boris who intends to unleash Project GORM (Genocidal Organisation of the Release of the Maelstrom) and take over the eponymous town. A boy has been born who can thwart the prince but he is dangerously ill after being poisoned by the said Baron in the first phase of the game set in 1794. The player has to travel forward in time to find penicillin and bring it back in time to save the boy's life.
According to the author there are four time zones although I must confess to only having found two so far; 1794 and 1994. Transporting oneself involves some extremely tough puzzle solving to finally create (or have created) time warps as tunnels between the different ages. It certainly reminds me of Jonathan Partington's Avon which also reused the same locations in different times. The town of Gorm sprawls over approximately 80 locations and there is a very large whitewashed police station replete with labyrinthine corridors and a magical maze to be tackled quite early on in the game. It is also interesting to compare how a posh house became a museum on the same site 200 years later, and a dance school becomes a car park. Who remembers the Kinks' Come Dancing?
As mentioned it is extremely easy to soft lock the game. If you give an inappropriate object as a present or a bribe to an NPC they secrete it away and it is gone forever; ergo much experimentation and many saved games are the order of the day.
The parser understand TAKE ALL and DROP ALL and multiple commands separated by a comma; it also has a fairly lenient inventory maximum of 10 objects . This is likely to be fully utilised as the game has many, many objects ranging from a wooden wheel in 1794 to an aspirin in 1994. Much of the experimentation comes from testing old artefacts in a newer environment and vice versa.
There are a few real time puzzles, including one where you have to commit unprovoked murder (what larks) and you also have to get yourself arrested to progress the game in the first age.
I came across one flagrant bug where a dead NPC reappears to re-solve an early puzzle which has been solved already. This seemed to occur if I dropped too many objects in one location. It doesn't however affect game play. There are several typos and grammatical infelicities but none really affected my enjoyment of the game.
It is downloadable as an .adf file from the if archive. I am playing on the RPCEmu emulator v 0.9.4 on which it works very quickly and smoothly.
IF you like your IF long and hard I can thoroughly recommend this game. I suspect it will be many hours before I finish.
I have completed the game and uploaded a map to CASA. A puzzle near the conclusion of the game had me stumped for a while (involving an ill old lady) until I had that eureka! moment that makes text adventures worth playing.