A Mind Forever Voyaging

by Steve Meretzky

Science Fiction/Slice of Life
1985

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Number of Reviews: 10
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Great Introduction to IF, August 12, 2021
by ccpost (Greensboro, North Carolina)

As a recent convert to interactive fiction, I have been looking for good games to get started with. Although this is perhaps not a typical work, I was intrigued by the sci-fi dystopian premise and encouraged by the wealth of critical praise heaped upon AMFV. Rather than detailing specific aspects of the gameplay or plot that I found especially effective, I want to focus this review on the merits of AMFV as an introduction to IF.

In short: I found AMFV quite stunning in its own right and also an effective introduction to IF more broadly. The work opened my eyes to the artistic potential of IF as a form and delivered a playing experience that was easy and engaging for someone with only minimal prior exposure to IF.

A few more detailed points:

I appreciated the relative lack of puzzles. Though I'm not averse to puzzle-heavy IF, I wanted a work without punishing puzzles or cruel game design (e.g. unwinnable states, lots of learning by dying). I loved that the main mission of the game is to explore the simulated versions of Rockvil, which still requires some careful attention to the description of places and objects without the demands of a typical puzzle (e.g. finding just the right use of an object to get past an obstacle). AMFV helped to ease me into the playing mechanics of IF without suffering the pain of banging my head (literally or metaphorically) against some puzzle to make progress.

I also thought that AMFV did a great job of introducing the a novice player to the poetics of IF, that is, the joys (and challenges) of navigating a simulated world via a text interface. Cleverly, the simulated versions of Rockvil can be seen as sorts of IF worlds within the broader IF work -- Perry Simm is in the same role as the player. This effect was achieved quite well and not in an eye-winking kind of way.

Finally, this work is clearly significant in the broader history of IF, which is obvious even to a newcomer like myself. Playing it definitely helped me to better understand the historical foundation of where more recent IF works have come from, but the experience was not that of an 'eat your vegetables' history lesson. The work is still fresh and enjoyable on its own terms, and indeed the satirical thrust of the work is still very relevant (even if the political satire could be heavy-handed at times -- probably my only real complaint about AMFV).