by Anonymous


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Number of Ratings: 29
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- Edo, September 18, 2021

- Arrowhead12 (Edmonton, Alberta), June 11, 2020

- Ivanr, May 18, 2017

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A short, linear game about an infamous person, June 8, 2016

This game was entered in Smoochiecomp as a sort of anti-game.

You play a creepy individual who is writing poetry for a girl you like and shoving it under her door.

It turns out that this game is based on a real life person that played an important role in American history in 1981. I found it interesting.

The game is short, but well polished and historically interesting.

- Aryore, January 17, 2016

- Thrax, March 25, 2015

- Sobol (Russia), January 4, 2015

- Jason Lautzenheiser (Navarre, Ohio), August 18, 2013

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Psychologically strong, though not very interactive by majority standards, May 20, 2013
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: Inform, thriller

In 1981, you play a man stalking a woman. If "play" sounds light, perhaps it's more accurate to say you are almost chained to the actions of a man in the grip of erotomania (a deluded and obsessive romantic fixation). Due to the shortness of the experience, I will omit further description of either of the main characters, as I can imagine how some players may prefer not to know certain fundamental details of the setup going in. What is certain is the strength of the writing, which thoroughly sinks you into the headspace of the obsessed protagonist, and into his vivid fantasy life.

At the rawest level of game mechanics, 1981 caters to very few player actions; it is what is typically called linear. The obsessed PC imparts clear thoughts in the prose about the next important course of action, and it's generally a waste of time trying anything else. What's interesting is the extent to which this approach could be considered to work well with the subject matter of this game. The psychological disorder at work here is characterised by the subject's complete resistance to all attempts to convince them that the situation is other than they believe it to be. Perhaps this is the best "excuse" for linearity that there can be.

This raises the question of what the player's role is here. "Creepy" and "uncomfortable" have been common review descriptions of the experience of playing 1981. Players tend not to like playing "bad" characters in realistic situations, or even facilitating their actions. I think this remains a difficult or weak point for the prospects of certain kinds of storytelling being done with IF. 1981 may again supply its own solution with its subject matter. With the PC's character being presented so monomaniacally, the player is likely to feel a degree of separation from the PC's actions. If you try to break off the path, the PC either doesn't want to do your thing because it's irrelevant to his plans, or your thing isn't implemented, or both.

It would be difficult and tedious for me to try and describe how 1981 could work as easily as a short story as IF. I think it could, and in that form it would be clear of the "playing a villain" hurdle. But it works in this form with the caveats that you must play the villain and accept mechanical linearity, positions which are unpopular and still querulous to many, respectively. What you will get for this is the sensation that you are shackled to the PC's ruinous path and that there's no getting off. This kind of story trajectory fascinates me because being privy to the amount of effort that a human can devote to going entirely the wrong way in life is strangely illuminating about our capabilities as a species. 1981 is a psychologically strong excursion into this territory though with little extra implementation and also an interesting demonstration of one way to traverse a lot of difficult IF terrain to do with unlikeable protagonists and realism.

Spoiling background on the game: (Spoiler - click to show)This is an imagined recreation of the real case of John Hinckley Jr. and his obsession with actress Jodie Foster, resulting in his assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. I knew about the case before playing the game, but the game doesn't reveal who the parties are until halfway through. I experienced a minor letdown at the moment of revelation, to an extent, only because I then felt I knew what was going to happen. But inevitability is such a strong part of this game anyway - this was really just my idiosyncratic reaction and no reflection on the game.

- E.K., May 3, 2013

- deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN), February 7, 2013

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
"Click" Fiction, September 26, 2012

I would hestiate to say this is an IF. I would more compare it to click fiction. It was extremely linear, to the point I could only alter 2 areas which still ended with the same effect. It did give a slight insight into the mind of the protagonist, however creepy that mind may be.
Awarded: a point each for character & story
Recommended: It's an interesting albeit creepy fiction. I would probably recommend to people looking for "real world" fiction. It's rather short, so good for in between harder IFs and just for something a bit out of the ordinary.
Personal Opinion: It is a different premise from what I usually see, it would of been nice to perhaps have the "click fiction" for the first time round (allowing one to enter the protagonists head so to speak) then allow replay with the constraints removed and more endings/interaction available.

- stadtgorilla (Munich, Germany), April 17, 2012

- Nathanial, May 27, 2011

- Simon Christiansen (Denmark), January 29, 2011

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Skeleton of a game, January 6, 2011
by Aintelligence (Canada)

I was expecting a game with a lot more charm, genius, and originality, because of the author, but instead I discovered an IF grave. It isn't as if this game doesn't have potential either. The story could definitely be developed upon with the style he is so good at, but the truth is, the story wasn't developed further, and the frame is all that is there.

In the first place, the story was extremely linear. No use of the brain was needed at all to complete the adventure. And being linear isn't a bad thing (indeed such games as Photopia are linear but spectacular), but such a story cannot be so restricted that It doesn't matter what you do. Descriptions were bland and rather tasteless with very little to look at except just what the author wanted you to do, and indeed there were very little objects or actions which could be used.

Characters were one thing the story did a fairly neat job on, especially the protagonist. The knowledge of the protagonist was well structured and developed to give you a slight chill at being this person. Other characters though, were not developed and remained 2 dimensional throughout. The game could have been quite something, but as for now: R.I.P.

- Clemency Jones (England), August 26, 2010

- dixonqu (New York, NY), August 14, 2010

- Stickz (Atlanta, Georgia), June 23, 2010

- perching path (near Philadelphia, PA, US), May 29, 2010

- pearceduncan (New Zealand), March 23, 2010

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), January 29, 2010

- ReddestDream (Nowhere Land), September 5, 2009

- madducks (Indianapolis, Indiana), September 5, 2008

- Catherine Daze, March 24, 2008

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