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by Jon Ingold profile

Science Fiction

(based on 112 ratings)
10 reviews

Game Details


Nominee, Best Individual NPC - 2000 XYZZY Awards

22nd Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2011 edition)

32nd Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2015 edition)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

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

Brass Lantern
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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This is possibly the strangest piece of IF I've ever encountered...
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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 10
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful:
Suspended's cynical little brother, January 11, 2010
by Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.)

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.

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
Intriguing experiment in player-narrator relation, February 10, 2011
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

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.

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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
Innovative and Polished, July 9, 2010
by Matt Wigdahl (Olathe, KS)

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.

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The following polls include votes for Fail-Safe:

Games Theoretically but not Practically Beatable on First Attempt by Floating Info
I'm looking for a very specific level of difficulty: a game where you theoretically could beat it on your first attempt, but you won't. At some point in the game you'll fail, but that point may vary from person to person, and when you...

Neil Armstrong Commemorative Space Poll by Joey Jones
I'm hankering to play a good space-themed game. That is to say, a game not necessarily set in space, but a game that is in some way about space or our relation to space. Any takers?

Games with faceplants/heel turns at the very end by Andrew Schultz
I'm looking for--well, anything that does this. Not "you are missing 4 of 5 pieces of the magic sword," but more, it could either be something funny to notice if you really think about it, or it could be something more obviously...

See all polls with votes for this game

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