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Contains TEMPEST.D$$
Requires an AGT interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links. (Compressed with ZIP. Free Unzip tools are available for most systems at www.info-zip.org.)

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The Tempest

by David R. Grigg


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Another annoying bit of the game was the amount of random occurrences and time limits in the game. My second go at the game I actually found something on the beach - wow! Another go I found something different and subsequent games I found nothing at all, and I needed the swords that I found to kill certain monsters - hi ho. As the game went on, I became more and more despondent about the game.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
"But this rough magic I here abjure", July 18, 2024
by Drew Cook (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
Related reviews: games seeking reviews

1992's "The Tempest" by David R. Grigg, which should not be mistaken for Graham Nelson's adaptation, is an unkind game that modern players will struggle to complete. However, this review, as part of my "games seeking reviews" series, is intended to celebrate and recognize previously undiscussed works. While I will be candid about the shortcomings of "The Tempest," cataloguing them is not my aim either here or generally in the series.

All reviews in my "games seeking reviews" series are inspired by Tabitha's excellent 2024 "Review-a-Thon," which I encourage all readers to investigate for more reviews of hidden IF gems.

Reviewing parser games from the interregnum between the fall of Infocom and the so-called "neo-classical" period that began with the release of Graham Nelson's "Curses" is difficult. I'd characterize many games as boutique titles, works sold by small publishers for a narrowing audience. Quality varied greatly in terms of design and presentation, but works of this period must be recognized as torch-bearers, keeping the medium alive in the face of diminishing sales. In this sense, even works that feel unsatisfying have merit.

"The Tempest" doesn't afford an experience of inhabiting Shakespeare's play. That would require a caliber of writing that would be difficult for anyone, in any medium, to achieve. Nelson's solution was to use Shakespeare's own poetry, which was probably the best approach. Players of Grigg's "The Tempest" will likely feel reminded of, rather than placed in, the play.

Mechanically, the game violates what contemporary players will expect as craft norms. There is a maze with no hints for solving. Exits are often unidentified in room descriptions and are frequently unreciprocated (entering from the east does not guarantee an eastward return). Weight limits come up more than once. There is almost always one or more unimplemented nouns in a room. Synonyms are few.

There are multiple timers, including a strictly limited light source.

I think persons interested in the history of interactive fiction might appreciate how rewarding it was to find an AGT decompiler, run it in DOSBox (Windows 11 would not execute it), and sift through the text in order to find a way through the maze. I think some of us live for this kind of thing! Doing so also gave me insight into how AGT games are organized, something I had no concept of.

I was only able to find one review of "The Tempest," and it was understandably negative. Since the reviewer likely paid money for it, he had a right to expect more than I might. There is no walkthrough for "The Tempest" at CASA, which often has materials for games not covered here at IFDB. It is obscure, unnoticed, and probably unloved.

[An aside: "The Tempest" was an entrant in the 1992 Softworks AGT competition, a contest organized over Compuserve for games written with the Aventure Game Toolkit, a shareware product for authoring parser games. It, along with other "honorable mentions," was part of a post-competition five-disk, seventeen-game collection that was sold by mail for thirty dollars. The collection included source code, which presumably provided a 1993 reviewer with solutions to some more vexing problems. For more information, the announcement for the competition's results can be read here.]

Still, I wish to praise the outlandish, outsized ambition of this work. It is not likely that audiences were clamoring for a "Tempest" game. As I have already indicated, hoping to do Shakespeare justice seems an incredibly difficult task. This is the kind of big, swing-for-the-fences project that is the opposite of safe, that loves great art, and must be, in its way, the product of fearlessness. I praise the impulse that inspired it and the conviction that it must have required. Even though the work is not successful, it indicates a certainty that IF can be art.

All this in a day when the jury was still out regarding that and many other questions! While I cannot recommend playing "The Tempest" for fun, it deserves credit for believing in (and investing in) the artistic merits of interactive fiction.

Tools used: I used AGTDec, which I retrieved from the programming/agt directory at the Interactive Fiction Archive. Since Windows 11 wouldn't run it, I relied on DOSBox. It created two very readable text dumps.

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This is version 2 of this page, edited by Edward Lacey on 11 March 2013 at 11:53am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page