All Roads

by Jon Ingold profile

Historical, Time Travel

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Number of Ratings: 153
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- Edo, August 17, 2023

- Ms. Woods, July 25, 2023

- William Chet (Michigan), July 15, 2023

- SirIgnotus (Somewhere, probably.), June 22, 2023

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- suchamazingdoge (Austin, Texas), May 12, 2019

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
"I'd rather be smart than be an actor." -- Pinocchio, May 11, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

I normally am a sucker for anything involving time travel and paradoxes and I tend to prefer linear gameplay. Jon Ingold is also one of my favorite authors. So All Roads should be right up my alley. I judged the 2001 IF competition and remember giving this one a score of "6" and then being surprised it took first place and won a whole slew of XYZZY awards. I decided to play it again recently to see if time would change my mind, but I left once again feeling underwhelmed.

At first, I thought I was bothered that the shifts and paradoxes were so fast and furious that I didn't have time to get a grip on the characters or their motivations. But Shrapnel and Shade are both similar in this regard and it didn't bother me there.

But looking at Jim Kaplan's review, I think he nailed it: Ingold does not trust the player here. If you spend too much time experimenting in any particular area, the game practically force feeds you what you should type, getting you to the ending as fast as possible. I play interactive fiction because I find satisfaction in being involved in the story, even if minimally, and here I felt like a puppet on a string.

That said, it's short enough that everyone should give it a try to see if it's up their alley.

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- elias67, March 12, 2019

- Stian, March 8, 2019

- getlostdont, February 5, 2019

- SchnickelFritz (TX), December 29, 2018

- Zach Shifflett (VA, United States), December 11, 2018

- Laney Berry, September 29, 2018

- Stas, April 23, 2018

- eme, March 16, 2018

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), November 17, 2017

- karlnp (Vancouver, BC), August 23, 2017

- Cory Roush (Ohio), June 20, 2017

- CMG (NYC), June 20, 2017

- Kyriakos Sgarbas (Hellas (Greece)), May 25, 2017

- hoopla, March 8, 2017

- Pegbiter (Malmö, Sweden), February 21, 2017

- Artran (Prague, Czech Republic), April 1, 2016

1 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
only for men (straight men), March 6, 2016

the story is full of cheap gamer clichés, where the person who plays it is in charge of pretty willing women. it is not considered that a woman plays this game. and of course it is for sad poor gamer boys who need storys where pretty pretty women are yours.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
An intricate and beautiful story with its hardest puzzle at the beginning, February 3, 2016

I've recently replayed many of Jon Ingold's games, and I am very impressed with his writing. This game is probably his best story. There are some puzzles, but you are generally held by the hand and walked through them (except at the beginning, but the game basically gives up and lets you through if you don't get it).

The real puzzle in this game is trying to figure out what is really going on. Ingold knows exactly how much to say to make something cool and how little to say to keep your imagination interested.

This is a fantasy (and possibly sci-fi) game following an assassin who is trying to escape his hanging. Not only do you the player not know what is going on at first, your character doesn't either! Your mutual journey of discovery makes the game exciting.

If you get stuck on the first puzzle, don't sweat it. This is a story, and the puzzles are just side thoughts. If you prefer puzzles but enjoy his writing, Jon Ingold's Muldoon Legacy is a huge puzzle fest, much bigger than Curses! or MIT Zork.

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- LynXsh, January 28, 2016

- Snave, January 25, 2016

- Aryore, December 13, 2015

- Ashen_, December 12, 2015

- Lanternpaw, May 16, 2015

- Adam Biltcliffe (Cambridge, UK), May 10, 2015

- Thrax, March 12, 2015

- Simon Deimel (Germany), February 2, 2015

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Did not like, January 30, 2015

In some games, a goal is to figure out what the goal is. This is one of those games (I think), but I found the play more frustrating than fun. There was no hint of explaining why you apparently have no recollection of what you are doing or why/how things happen. I was left with the impression that the gaps in the story were to cover over the lack of an explanation and not to enhance the feel of the story.

I also was not a fan of the forced action. There are a few puzzles in the game, but not enough to make for fun play to me. This game would clearly be better for people who prefer the "fiction" and not the "interactive" in "interactive fiction." I felt like I was just mashing "wait" over and over and being force fed exposition at times.

I'm giving it a low score because of my own preferences. The commands and play seem well-executed, but it's just not my cup of tea at all. I expect people who favor these sorts of stories will really like this one.

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- openmedi (Berlin, Germany), January 17, 2015

- morlock, January 14, 2015

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Fantastic game!, January 10, 2015
by Chai Hai (Kansas City KS)

I loved this! I just finished it and I still have no idea what just happened. Fantastic use of magic? Time travel? Paradoxes? Dimension hopping?

You are a man. Who every frequently gets whisked away by the darkness, and put into another place. Now you have a noose around your neck! Escape and clear your name somehow!

The story was fantastic, although confusing at parts. The puzzles were straightforward, though I did glance at the walkthrough in the beginning.

Overall, fantastic game! I would love to see more missions from this character, or perhaps the similar woman? Either way, it was a fun way to do a mission, and I would gladly do more.


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- Werd, January 2, 2015

- Floating Info, December 15, 2014

- Catalina, December 8, 2014

- Sobol (Russia), September 12, 2014

- shornet (Bucharest), March 23, 2014

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Dark and winding, March 16, 2014
by Macaroni-cheese (The Village)

I really enjoyed this game. I don't know how often I would play it again. You did kind of jut from one place to the other without a reason why. I would recommend for beginners as it was not too difficult. It was the perfect length with the right amount of puzzles. Jon Ingold really does go the extra mile with his games.

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- Pawndawan, January 26, 2014

- KidRisky (Connecticut, USA), December 20, 2013

- grainne6, October 25, 2013

- Zeofar, September 1, 2013

- Egas, August 4, 2013

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- ptkw, March 6, 2013

- Sdn (UK), December 24, 2012

- kala (Finland), November 16, 2012

- MKrone (Harsleben), October 6, 2012

- AADA7A, September 24, 2012

- platy, September 10, 2012

- Molly (USA), June 21, 2012

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A Jumble of Interesting Ideas, April 3, 2012
by Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.)
Related reviews: jon ingold

Play it if: you love the mindscrew genre, because this more than qualifies, or you prefer largely puzzle-less, narrative-heavy IF.

Don't play it if: you want to see the gameplay tie in with or match the bizarre narrative satisfactorily; if you prefer not to get involved in stories which tread the line between depth and obscurantism.

It's a shame that I couldn't give All Roads a higher score, because there are a lot of ideas here to like. Unfortunately, they're not organized particularly well, leaving me feeling rather frustrated at the end of the game.

Part of the problem is in implementing the main theme as expressed in the title. As with the old saying, Jon Ingold seems to want all choices and actions to converge on one inescapable ending. Which is fine if properly done. But here, the game is not capable of subtly prodding the player into committing the necessary deeds or providing the logic for this convergence. It has to actively force you, the player, to play out its desires, either through making the protagonist do things for unclear reasons (Spoiler - click to show)such as having to sign the guestbook or take the ring from the desk or making the protagonist carry out certain actions without duly reporting them to the player (Spoiler - click to show)(such as signing the guestbook incorrectly). The most irritating sequence in this regard comes (Spoiler - click to show)during the second visit to the Denizen, where the game loses all interactivity instead of finding some way of convincing the player to repeat his or her actions.

The story as a whole is a little too confusing for my tastes. The withholding of certain details, such as any real response to the "x me" command, felt like the game was trying to force mystery where it shouldn't have existed. In Adam Cadre's 9:05, this worked because the game conditioned the player from turn one not to expect...the thing that they weren't supposed to expect. Here, though, the game is explicitly a mystery, and a really good mystery works not by withholding information, but by withholding the key to how that information fits together.

Basically, it feels like the game needs to blatantly cheat its player to get its story across; and I'll take the cruelty of old Infocom over that feeling any day.

Again, it's a real shame I can't really recommend this game much, because it has a lot of positives: the tight prose, the reasonably well-rendered setting, and some core ideas that could have gone a long way if marshaled correctly. (Spoiler - click to show)I guess I'm just still holding out for a game that can enforce the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle without brute force. Ah well. Better luck next time in the genre.

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- E.K., February 21, 2012

- Hagbard Celine, January 26, 2012

- amciek (Opole), December 18, 2011

- Marco Innocenti (Florence, Italy), November 17, 2011

- Lipa (Slovenia), September 29, 2011

- Ann R. J., September 11, 2011

- A.J. Crowley (Seattle, Washington), September 10, 2011

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
A big meta-puzzle in an alternate Venice, August 29, 2011
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

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.

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- Digibomber, July 29, 2011

- Xander, July 17, 2011

- Corwin71, July 10, 2011

- baywoof, May 25, 2011

- Rotonoto (Albuquerque, New Mexico), May 16, 2011

- Iris Wood (Vancouver), May 12, 2011

- Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania), March 18, 2011

- Ben Cressey (Seattle, WA), February 2, 2011

- snickerdoddle, January 28, 2011

- A. P. Sillers (United States, East Coast), January 19, 2011

- Mark Jones (Los Angeles, California), January 9, 2011

- Fabien Vidal (Tours, France), January 5, 2011

- mojay, December 18, 2010

- Narcisse, November 26, 2010

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Good idea, bad result, November 21, 2010
by Aintelligence (Canada)
Related reviews: Bad, linear, roads, time

'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

Note: this rating is not included in the game's average.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting ... but confused, November 16, 2010
by Stumpy (A maze of twisty little passages, all alike (apart from the one I'm currently in))

An interesting experiment in storytelling, this isn't your typical brand of puzzle solving adventure title (there was only really one puzzle in the whole game).

The focus here is on telling the story and taking the reader through it.

The story begins with the protagonist on the hangman's block waiting to be executed, with no idea how, or why, they are there. It then proceeds through a number of seemingly disjointed episodes before coming full-circle with a twist.

Personally I enjoyed the experience, but the major flaw lies in the lack of character development through the telling. Yes, we learn what the protagonist's stock in trade is, and why he's there and what he's doing, but there's no real development of his character or background which for me left the experience lacking a little.

I also found the disjointedness of the scenes to be both confusing and disorienting to begin with. It was only after the story had progressed to a significant degree that the pieces began to fit together (helped by some gratuitous hint dropping in the narrative).

Overall though, a recommended try.

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- Chris Longhurst (Oxford, UK), October 1, 2010

- Joel Webster (Madison, WI), July 26, 2010

- Nusco (Bologna, Italy), May 28, 2010

- Patrick M. McCormick (United States), May 21, 2010

- Azazel, April 2, 2010

- Aina Grey, December 29, 2009

4 of 29 people found the following review helpful:
Pissed off, December 26, 2009
by Andreas Teufel (Poland)

Confused nonsense about a shadowdancer/assassin in some parallel universe Italy (best setting EVAR!!!11), a story that repeats over and over in some utterly senseless way, a protagonist who is uninteresting in the worst way since he has no personality at all and WE KNOW NOT A FUCKING THING ABOUT HIM.

yeah, it's game of the year (!) material all right!

I am beyond words.

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- Otto (France), September 25, 2009

- ReddestDream (Nowhere Land), September 4, 2009

- Shchekotiki, August 3, 2009

- Stephen Gilbert (Canada), July 11, 2009

- Brian Conn (Eureka, California), June 19, 2009

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- Newbot, March 8, 2009

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- brattish (Canada), October 26, 2008

- Steve West, October 15, 2008

- hywelhuws (Clynnog Fawr, Wales, UK), September 19, 2008

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
Exceptionally memorable..., February 27, 2008

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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- jfpbookworm (Hamburg, New York), February 25, 2008

- J. Robinson Wheeler (Austin, TX), February 22, 2008

- Marsh (Oxfordshire, UK), February 12, 2008

- RichCheng (Warwickshire, UK), January 28, 2008

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
Fun, January 24, 2008
by Dominic Delabruere (U.S.A.)

This story's setting was beautiful, and the story was riveting, although I must admit I'm still rather confused about some of the details. There were one or two moments scenes in which I became stuck while playing this - it took me forever to notice the existence of a certain location, for example, but I've never been very good at puzzles in interactive fiction. The implementation was generally smooth, and the prose was polished and stylish. Overall, it's very fun to play. I recommend it.

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- oddgrue (California), December 30, 2007

- Tyrog, December 14, 2007

- wolf510 (Pittsburg, CA), December 8, 2007

- VK, November 27, 2007

- anj tuesday, November 18, 2007

- Emily Boegheim, November 11, 2007

- Wesley (Iowa City, Iowa), November 11, 2007

- Hauston (Seattle, WA), October 30, 2007

- Stephen Bond (Leuven, Belgium), October 26, 2007

- SamGordon (England), October 23, 2007

- PDearmore (Central New York), October 22, 2007

- yandexx (Saint-Petersburg, Russia), October 22, 2007

- zer, October 22, 2007

- Corey Arnett (British Columbia, Canada), October 20, 2007

Baf's Guide

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

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