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About the Story
"Wave a circle round him thrice,
Winner, Best Game; Nominee, Best Writing; Winner, Best Story; Winner, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Individual Puzzle - 2001 XYZZY Awards
1st Place overall; 1st Place, Miss Congeniality Awards - 7th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2001)
5th Place - The Top Five IF Games (Adventure Gamers, 2002)
Supernatural espionage thriller set in a quasi-medieval Venice (oh, that old genre again). You jump around in space and time through a series of apparently disconnected scenes, and eventually, if you're paying enough attention, things come together. Largely puzzleless, in the conventional sense; there's one puzzle toward the beginning of the game, but most of the rest of the story pretty much flows by. In another sense, though, the whole game is a puzzle, and it's a pretty clever one--the game drops progressively more obvious clues as you go along and fills in some, but not all, of the blanks at the end. You'll probably need to replay, and think a good deal, to figure everything out). Pleasantly confusing, though very much on rails--there's only one path through the game, and not much deviation is allowed for. Unusual and rewarding.
-- Duncan Stevens
[...] it's difficult to judge the game -- as pure story, once understood, it's impressive, and the various pieces come together well. The meta-puzzle of the story isn't quite as successful, though, due to the feeling that the player doesn't really have much of a shot at solving the puzzle, and accordingly the extent to which the game succeeds depends on one's assumptions about what the game sets out to do.
-- Duncan Stevens
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The game involves a technique that must be executed perfectly in order to work at all: a series of seemingly disconnected scenes that all come together perfectly at the end (at least, if you're paying attention). The ending is quite a satisfying surprise, and like any good "twist" movie (think Usual Suspects or Fight Club) you'll want to replay it a second time very quickly.
-- Evan Dickens
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Number of Reviews: 14
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
By now we have all become familiar with films that give us a narrative that is somehow cut up -- either in space, or in time, or in levels of reality -- and then ask us to sort it all out into a coherent story. Memento is an obvious example, as are Donnie Darko, Inception and eXistenZ. These films are like puzzles, in that we are constantly coming up with theories and testing them against what is happening on the screen.
Jon Ingold's All Roads falls firmly within this genre. It presents us with scenes taking place in an alternate Venice, where the Guard fights against the Resistance. We take the role of an assassin who is about to be hanged, but suddenly manages to escape in what appears to be a supernatural way. The rest of the game consists of weird shifts in place and time, troublesome identities, and the player trying to understand what on Earth is going on.
So, is it any good? On the positive side, the story is complicated and yet coherent enough to excite interest and engage our intellect. We theorise, we adopt and discard theories, and the clear-headed reader will have a pretty good idea of what was going on once he has finished the game. One will certainly have had fun.
On the negative side, however, it must be mentioned that All Roads is a bit too complex for its own good. The central plot could have done with at least one identity less. (Spoiler - click to show)Did we really need to have both the assassin as a disembodied ghost and his brother? A confusion between two identities would have been complicated enough, but now we in fact have three identities. This would have made it easier to solve a story that now appears to be wilfully obscure.
Another negative point is that the game sometimes goes out of its way to hide clues from the player. Not only will some crucial information only be found by players who do non-obvious actions, it is also the case that some clues are actively withheld from you. The "x me" command is particularly bad in this respect. While I can see why the author was hesitant in supplying a more helpful response to such a command, I do not think it was the right decision. It is better to make the central puzzle easier than to tell you players "sure, if I told you this stuff that you should just be able to examine, you could solve the puzzle; but I'm not going to!"
That said, it is still easy to love All Roads. Anyone interested in IF should give it a whirl.
'wow'! What a great idea' I thought, 'an adventure all about switching through time'!
Turns out that this was horribly developed.
1. The characters were so flat it wasn't funny. The characters were usually only seen once or twice, not nearly enough time to do anything with their personalities. The main character was so hopelessly pathetic, and ill developed. He spent most of his time getting captured, moping, then trying to escape, and doing nothing of free will. There is no fun in that.
2. This story was too linear. I'm actually a fan of fairly linear adventures, but this was pitiful. There were hardly any puzzles in this whole work and to make matters worse, you got no control over what the character does. You do one obvious thing and it leads you to another obvious thing. It was infuriating how every action you did, it took you on a completely scripted part.
3.the plot was not terrible though, but take out the character dimension, and the free will and you get nothing
There are competing schools of thought in IF. Many in the new school believe the story is paramount, and that puzzles and other game-like qualities are sometimes nothing more than unwanted throwbacks to the primitive days of mere "text adventures". "All Roads" is the first piece I encountered that made me think the new-schoolers might be on to something.
It's been a couple of years since I played this piece, and I don't really recall any puzzles at all. They were there, but they seemed so easily solved that it was clear their main purpose was to keep the reader involved, and not to delay completion of the story. What I do recall is the very intriguing plot, which, like a dense film along the lines of "Memento", kept me both enthralled and slightly disoriented until the very end. As with "Memento", I still can't say I fully understand "All Roads", but I don't hesitate to recommend it.
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