Hibernated 1 - This place is death

by Stefan Vogt

Episode 1 of Hibernated Trilogy
Science Fiction
2018

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
"It is what it is.", October 27, 2020
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: SF

Edit: It has been brought to my attention that what I called "retro-gameplay feel" is actual sparsity due to the limitations of the Commodore 64 on which Hibernated 1 was originally written. I therefore added a star for "tight programming in small nooks and crannies".
More in the comments.


"Hibernated 1" is a pretty straightforward sci-fi game with cool electronic engineering puzzles and an abandoned alien ship to spend a few cool hours as a space heroine.

That is, it could be, were it not that the game overdoes its retro-gameplay feel by quite a lot of notches for my tastes.

Although the basic descriptions are good, sometimes even great, implementation of scenery is almost non-existent, making it hard to get a feel for the spaceship you're investigating. Even more frustrating, implementation for needed objects is also very minimalist, leading to exchanges such as this:

> X SLAB
It is what it is. A closer examination does not reveal any new insights.

Is the glass slab lying on the floor or standing upright? Is it the size of my head or taller than me? Is it clear and transparent or milky and opaque? These "new insights" might give an inkling as to how to use this thing.

Oh, talking about that verb: due to the two-word parser, you need to USE objects. In the right place, and , very importantly, at the right time. If you do not, the response is unforgiving.

>USE PARTS
That is not an option.

Even though you really do need to use those parts in that location, only there is something else that has to be done elsewhere in the ship first. So, no helpful responses to tell you you're on the right track.

Well, since you're carrying around IO, a semi-sentient robotic tamagotchi to assist you, you'd think that helpful feedback would be provided by simply:

>TALK IO

but unfortunately, 99% of the time you get:

That is not an option.

Because of all this, it is clear at every moment that you are not a female spacecaptain uncovering the secret of a lost alien spacecraft. You are you, sitting at your computer taking a stab at the right sequence of commands to type to make something happen to the gamestate.

That being said, once you've come to that agreement with the game and with yourself, "Hibernated 1" is a fine "logic-in-the-dark" puzzle. Just don't expect too much back from it, like feedback and stuff...


Comments on this review

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8bit_era, October 25, 2020 - Reply
The initial version of Hibernated had been written with a very limited engine on the Commodore 64 and it forces to load all of the game's content into memory. With approximately 38k of available memory then, the game can never have an answer to all you type nor add every scenery. So please consider there had never been an approach to give it a retro-gameplay feel, it just had been designed by dealing with the actual limitations of such a machine. Anyway, Hibernated 2 is currently in development and utilizes Inform and a minimal library that allows targeting retro systems without losing anything of the Inform look and feel. In the wake of the development of Hibernated 2 I am also preparing an enhanced version of Hibernated 1, which is as well Z-machine based. Feel free to revise your review once the enhanced version had been released as it basically resolves 100% of the issues you address here. Especially the much improved parser and the additional content will make a massive difference. Generally Hibernated had been very favorably reviewed and won quite a few awards, including the Crash Smash of the UK based ZX Spectrum cult magazine Crash. It needs to be admitted though that favorable reviews for it usually come from the retro scene, where Hibernated had its inital target audience. Thanks for taking your time and playing it.
Rovarsson, October 27, 2020 - Reply
Thanks for the response!

I honestly thought Hibernated 1 was created as a retro/throwback-to-the-early-days-experience on and for a modern machine. But actually you were struggling with the same limitations people like Scott Adams (for example) were trying to deal with: trying to get an entire playable game into a tiny memory space.

I have to admit that changes my view on the game as a programming accomplishment. I can't say that it changes how I feel about actually playing Hibernated 1. After all, the game is what it is: a sci-fi game with a gloomy feel and some great descriptions, but nowhere near enough depth to get into it.

That said, I'm a very spoiled IF-player. I started playing around 2005, and the earliest published games I have finished are from 1996 (Sunset over Savannah, Christminster, Tapestry,...) I have never even seriously tackled the Infocom classics.

So my experiences and expectations when I go into an IF-work are not in line with the extreme sparsity of Commodore 64 games.

Thanks for the background information. Eight Feet Under and Hibernated 2 are still on my to-play list.
8bit_era, November 2, 2020 - Reply
No worries, I am glad you took the time to play it. Yes, the retro scene warmly welcomed the game but I understand of course that if you're expecting a game like Sunset over Savannah or Christminster, you could easily get disappointed. The port surely will make things better as the parser understands much more of your input but it won't be a perfect match compared to these games of course.

You really should give a few of the Infocom games a go. Especially Trinity, which is considered THE Infocom game to play and A Mind Forever Voyaging should be right up your alley. Cheers!
Rovarsson, November 2, 2020 - Reply
I started AMFV two months ago, but I quit because I didn't have the free time I wanted to commit to it. Legendary games should not be rushed through...
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