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Just what I was looking for in an IF game, December 10, 2015
One of my favorite concepts in novels, games, and movies is that of a world that is falling apart despite the main character's best efforts. Games like Riven tried to capture that feeling but fell far short. In this game, that is the central premise.
I should begin by saying I have only recently discovered this game and have only played the Final Cut. It begins with a terse room description and from there quickly builds up the mood and then the atmosphere. You immediately learn that your colleague has just been assassinated in an effort to keep secret what is in your scientific research notes, and you have a sense of urgency to share your findings with the University. Only you never make it there because (Spoiler - click to show)the first disaster strikes which threatens the solvency of the planet. Shortly after that, you realize there is an even greater danger than that.
The mood is adequately set by having the player - a humble, nerdy, non-athletic scientist - break down in tears more than once on the way to the next train. Adding a friendly, reassuring character was a nice touch, (Spoiler - click to show)although I wish it had been a little longer before he had been killed off. I do like the plot twist when you discover (Spoiler - click to show)the First Initiative, and it would be nice if there had been more like this. The one journal you do find isn't enough, and actually feels disconnected from the rest of the story.
Consulting many different topics in your e-pad gives you an opportunity to learn as much or as little about the game setting, which also sets the right mood. I like that it isn't necessary in most cases to look up much of anything, especially if you're playing through for the second or third time. There are also subtle references to other IF, such as the description of the e-pad as a "Guide to the Galaxy." The ending is the best part in my opinion, but I won't give anything away here.