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About the Story
You're on a business trip with your boss, driving down a deserted highway in the middle of nowhere, when the car breaks down. You set off on foot seeking help, but you soon find yourself in the middle of a shocking conspiracy in a dangerous industrial complex. Can you penetrate the decades-old cover-up and reveal the secrets that might forever change the world?
Nominee, Best Individual Puzzle - 1998 XYZZY Awards
Entertaining action caper that requires significant suspension of disbelief, but is well-crafted enough to be enjoyable anyway. Your car breaks down near a mysterious factory, and you stumble on some strange secrets. Impossible to die or otherwise render the game unwinnable, perhaps not the best design choice for this particular game (since the nature of the plot requires that you be in danger now and again, and the danger doesn't seem all that real if you know it can't do anything to you), but good for general player-friendliness. Lots of clever large-scale puzzles, lots of gadgetry to manipulate, and generally a well-built world with plenty of attention to detail.
-- Duncan Stevens
The Plant feels well-crafted as a whole; bugs are few, the writing is outstanding, and objects, even complex ones, largely do what they're supposed to do. That feeling of polish helps overcome the flaws in the story--or, more accurately, the flaws in the story don't detract much from its enjoyment because the game is so playable as a whole.
-- Duncan Stevens a.k.a. Second April
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
Probably the thing I liked the most about The Plant was its puzzles. I know there were several other games this year that were focused on puzzles, and some of the puzzles in those games were excellent. However, I liked The Plant's puzzles better precisely because the game wasn't focused on puzzles. Instead, its puzzles were very well integrated into its story, so solving the puzzles really propelled the narrative. It's much more interesting to solve a puzzle when it opens the door to the next piece of the story, rather than being just one of a roomful of puzzles that you have to solve to escape that room. The Plant was probably the only game in this year's competition to give me a feeling similar to what I have when I play Infocom games. I love that feeling of uncovering an exciting story by cleverly putting pieces together, using items in unexpected ways, or doing the right thing at just the right time.
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Number of Reviews: 7
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Conveniently for the author of The Plant, his protagonist's car breaks down right in front of a sketchy detour leading to a mysterious plant off the main road. Equally convenient is the fact the boss of said protagonist is very eager to explore said plant...
While the circumstances leading up to the start of the game are a bit convoluted, once the story starts, I got drawn in fast and deep. The main reason for this is the excellent writing and pacing. The player's curiosity is piqued along with the PC's, and the boss's nudging adds some extra motivation to find a way into this mysterious facility.
The puzzles provide good pacing to the story, forcing the player to slow down and take note of what is happening. A good deal of actions trigger cutscenes, giving movement to the game/story, instead of being a static stage with the PC walking around it.
I did not encounter one bug, and only one puzzle that could be a bit more player-friendly in design ((Spoiler - click to show)When moving atop the glass ceiling, you have to LOOK each time you stop to see the particulars of your surroundings). Everything else is smooth, well clued (that doesn't mean easy...) and executed perfectly. The technical skill shown in the design of this game makes sure the player trusts that even though she is stuck, there is a way to win the game, and that it makes sense. (Lord of the IF-realm knows I've played games not so trustworthy...)
I'm still of two minds regarding the finale. It seemed like a profound breach of tone, but on the other hand, I did burst out laughing.
Very good original puzzles, extremely good pacing. Maybe a tad impersonal. Recommended.
I just played this through, and this is my favorite IF game next to Blue Lacuna. It wasn't terribly difficult but it was a lot of fun. The story and atmosphere managed to grip me, the characters (not a lot of them) were sympathetic, it is well-written, and the puzzles made sense. No 'guess the verb' or obscure item combinations at all. All in all I needed a hint only once, for an item I had not managed to collect. It was a bit short, though.
There is an old story about a man who dreamed of a giant statue with feet made of clay mingled with iron, symbolizing strength mixed with weakness. This game really made me think of that image.
First, the iron: It is a mid-length game with three large portions to explore (though you can always return to a previous area). The implementation is good, and the story is pretty fun; I was excited when I first began to plan because I enjoy a good action game.
The puzzles seem overwhelming at first, but experimentation soon shows that the gameworld is more limited than it seems, which makes it easier to solve the puzzles.
The puzzles include a variety that I have never really seen in other games, especially in the introductory section.
Second, the clay: The game falls short in several areas. One is in length and size; the game feels unnecessarily small in the last two big areas. You almost expect an area about the size of Babel, but you end up with something a lot smaller.
As others have noted, the NPC implementation feels sparse after playing more modern games. Compared to Infocom games, this game does pretty good; however, having a travelling companion that has about one line for every 50-100 moves gets discouraging after a while.
I was stuck near the end, and used the walkthrough to make sure I had done everything up to that point, but somehow couldn't trigger a cutscene. I had to manually enter the walkthrough using the @ sign to get to the ending, which may have soured my reaction.
Thus, overall, I can only partially recommend this game. The first half made me ready to recommend this is another great hidden treasure, but the second half left me wondering.
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