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Nominee, Best Individual NPC - 2000 XYZZY Awards
A brief game with a novel premise that it would be disastrous to describe. This work plays some interesting games with the player/player-character/parser identities. It also turns off meta-verbs, so be prepared for the fact that you won't be able to save and restore. The game is so brief, thought, that it probably won't matter much. Definitely worth a try.
-- Emily Short
Although the puzzles present almost no challenge and the plot is rather thin, the game is worth playing, if only to experience the interesting format. As a game, it falls flat, but as an experiment, I would say that it succeeds. (Alex Weldon)
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Don't Put Me On Hold
FailSafe is not a conventional work of IF, although I'd hesitate to label it as `experimental.' It's not an experiment -- the departures it makes from the `standard' model of IF are all carefully chosen for their effect in presenting the story, such that it is the story and the world behind it, rather than any kind of `gimmick', which dominate at least my memories of the game. (Adam Biltcliffe)
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Jay is Games
Big game developers spend enormous amounts of time and money developing concepts that can reel players in like squiggling little fishies. And here Jon Ingold does it with a few lines of text and a whole lot of intrigue. (John Bardinelli)
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Number of Reviews: 10
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
Completely by accident, I played Fail-Safe in the same week that I played the Infocom classic Suspended. Fail-Safe is essentially Suspended's more cynical little brother. In both games, the PC is immobile and completely dependent on NPCs for sensory input, movement, and manipulating objects. Both are also set in science-fiction worlds where a massive calamity has just occurred, and the PC has to walk the NPCs through repairs that they have trouble describing and can only dimly understand.
Fail-Safe is very short, and as mentioned elsewhere, does not permit saves or restores, which is less painful than it might sound. Once you have figured out the basic plan of the game, you can quickly get back to the part where the crucial decisions are made (and where the game's black humor really shows itself). You'll definitely want to replay a few times to make sure you get all the endings. At one point, there's an unfortunate guess-the-verb problem, but for the most part Fail-Safe is entertaining, well-written, and definitely worth playing.
Fail-safe is a very short SF adventure, containing one big puzzle, some less than stellar (but by no means bad) implementation, and a very brief story. That may not sound like much, and it isn't much. But what makes the piece is how it experiments with the relation between the player and the narrator.
This is impossible to discuss without spoilers, so I suggest you play it before reading on.
(Spoiler - click to show)Fail-safe has an unreliable narrator. Not just that, it has a narrator that actively tries to trick the player (or rather, the narratee) into forming a wrong idea about the world. If she does form the wrong idea, the narratee will take an action that will be great for the narrator but disastrous for herself. The puzzle consists in the player (a) finding out that the narrator is lying; and (b) responding with an appropriate double bluff. Great stuff that I would like to see explored further in a more substantial game.
This was one of the first games I played on my return to interactive fiction. I count myself lucky to have picked it first. Fail-Safe is very short, often confusing, and experiments with the player/protagonist relationship in interesting ways. It's a fascinating brief work that really only could work as IF, and when you finish it, you'll want (or in my case, _need_) to play it again. You'll understand when you get there.
See All 15 Member Reviews
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Recommended ListsFail-Safe appears in the following Recommended Lists:
Great games set in space by MathBrush
My list for best sci-fi games has grown too large again, and so I'm splitting it off again. This list only includes games whose primary action is off-planet, or which feature exploring an unfamiliar planet, or which feature...
my favorites by namekuseijin
Everyone got theirs, here are mine. They're in no particular order and feature varying difficulty and/or size. Every single one is great. I also have my favorite authors and I'm biased towards their IF. Good thing this is my favorites...
PollsThe following polls include votes for Fail-Safe:
More than it appears to be... by dacharya64
I'm looking for games that aren't exactly what they seem. Perhaps they come across as simple or romantic or anything really, the point is that things take a turn for the worse (or perhaps the better) and everything begins to change....
Games with an abrupt and unexpected ending twist by dutchmule
I'm looking for games which, as in a lot of short stories, feature a sudden and unexpected revelation/twist at the very end of the game, that possibly changes your interpretation of what the game was really all about. (but please be...
Unreliable narrators by verityvirtue
I'm interested in games which hinge on the 'unreliable narrator', from amnesia to a plain distorted worldview. The more this distortion affects the storyline, the better.
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