Rogue of the Multiverse

by C.E.J. Pacian profile

Science Fiction

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Number of Reviews: 7
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Adventure, power, wealth, and romance, July 16, 2015
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

If not for its recent creation and platform choice, this would probably be one of the most popular games on all of IFDB. It is part sim game and part thriller game. It reminds me of the best parts of "Attack of the Yeti Robot Zombies", "You will select a decision", "Jigsaw", and the hologram sequence in "Mulldoon Legacy".

You play a test subject under the supervision of the evil Dr. Sliss, a lizard-human. You begin in a mini-base that you explore non-linearly with no real puzzles to speak of, and continue on to a second half of the game that is completely linear and a real thrill ride.

I can't express how much I enjoyed this game. But everyone has a different sense of what they are looking for in a game. This game is for people who like memorable characters, heart-racing action scenes, romance, and over-the-top humor.

P.S. As Danielle noted, there is a completely unnecessary F-bomb.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
There may be a banana in it for you!, July 13, 2013
by Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.)
Related reviews: C. E. J. Pacian

Play it if: as with Gun Mute, you want a game short and easy enough to breeze through but quirky and different enough to be memorable.

Don't play it if: you get turned off by dodgy pacing or an absence of any strong sense of story, because while this game has a number of great set-pieces it doesn't really feel like a streamlined, complete narrative.

Elements of Rogue of the Multiverse reminded me of Gun Mute. Non-human NPCs with human-like behaviors. A stoic protagonist of few words. The eschewment of compass directions. Gameplay consisting of repeatedly achieving the same goal, but with subtly differing details. And an environment whose nature is revealed more through small, evocative details than verbal exposition.

While I do prefer Gun Mute to this game, Rogue of the Multiverse still carried a couple of elements that delighted me and made it absolutely worth playing.

First is the main character, the antagonist Dr. Sliss, who subjects the PC to scientific experimentation. Sliss does superficially resemble GLaDOS in that she is a pleasant-speaking female taskmaster, but I find her a good deal funnier and more likable because while GLaDos is pretty obviously malevolent, Sliss is well-meaning but rather ignorant. Her patronizing comments to the PC, such as offers of banana rewards (she has trouble distinguishing between you and a rather hairless chimp), are perfectly balanced to get you liking her against your better nature. And in spite of the potentially lethal conditions to which she subjects you, I was very happy to see the game give the player the option to develop their relationship with her.

Second is what is arguably the central element of gameplay, the resource-gathering exercise. Normally I should find this sort of thing to be tedious: fewer things turn me off to modern RPGs faster than being asked to perform dull, repetitious resource-gathering tasks. But it works a lot better here than it has any right to, partly because it's quite easy and fast-moving (turn-based time will do that for you), and partly because each procedurally-generated world is given just environmental detail to make it a little memorable. You can encounter security robots in industrial complexes and rock-hurling apes in mountain ranges. The description is sparse, as it would have to be, but it a Zork-like way the concise description allows the imagination to fill the gaps.

Third is the vehicle sequence. I loved this scene. It pulled off the kind of urgency and excitement I so enjoyed in Gun Mute - again, we're not talking about real-time events here! (Spoiler - click to show)Sliss's shooting and dialogue during this sequence do a lot both to keep the scene fun and varied and to increase my adoration of her character. It's difficult to describe what made it work for me on a visceral level, but that's just another reason you should check out Rogue for yourself.

I did say that I preferred Gun Mute, of course. This game is a lot less streamlined than Gun Mute: structurally speaking, it's more like two or three games stuck onto one another than a complete experience in and of itself. Finishing Gun Mute gave me the satisfaction of a completed story; in the case of Rogue of the Multiverse, though, it's difficult to know when the story is supposed to end - I identified about two or three different points at which it could plausibly have ended, only for the game to continue so as to depict events which, frankly, didn't really need depicting. This is a short game, but it's not exactly concise; the endgame is dragged out a little unnecessarily. I also can't help but feel that the resource-gathering game offers a lot of room for expansion into a fuller game. Yes, the procedurally-generated environments are part of the point and yes, repeating the missions as they're written here for a long game would get tiresome fairly quickly, but there's definitely more that can be done with the basic idea.

Ultimately, though, none of these issues will by any means preventing you from enjoying yourself here. It's a light, humorous, not-too-long romp in an imaginative sci-fi setting and deserving of a look.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
I wanted to like this more, April 14, 2013

I generally love C.E.J. Pacian's work, and the cover art was lovely, so I was looking very forward to playing this. Then I actually launched the game, and I found myself in a cell. And the cell door was open. Like, I didn't even have to escape the cell. And there was this boring bit of walking and not really looking at much because there isn't much to look at and the descriptions weren't all that engaging and CEJPacianesque.

I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the title of the game. Maybe it's that it's science fiction (not my thing). Maybe it's that it starts not so much on a railroad as a rollercoaster. Maybe it's that I hit a runtime error about a dozen moves in. Maybe it's that I was in the mood for saying damn the gender binary! I mean, we finally get into the Pacianisms, and that's amusing enough, but I still felt... well, not so much railroaded, more like I was in one of those little carts at Dollywood with a bar across my waist, knowing I was going to have to sit there and listen to the recorded dialog of silly people.

As I said, I like Pacian, so I stepped away for a bit, played something else, and came back hoping I'd start to really feel engaged. But I never really was. That makes me kind of sad. I think this is simply Not My Kind of Game. I decided to step away again, but this time I didn't come back.

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Short sci-fi fun, November 27, 2010
by Kevin Jackson-Mead (Boston)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2010

Even though this is an “odd-format” game for the 2010 IF Comp (read, not Z-machine or Glulx), it’s by the celebrated author of Gun Mute, so I had high hopes for this game, and I wasn’t disappointed. You start off in prison, and I wasn’t initially entirely sure if I was just supposed to go along with things or try to escape. (Spoiler - click to show)After getting killed during my first escape attempt, however, I figured this wasn’t that kind of game. The game as a whole is fairly linear, but the story is excellent, and there certainly is enough interactivity to make it engaging. What really shines about this game for me, and why I highly recommend it, is the writing. It’s humorous sci-fi, which I can sometimes like but which I sometimes tire of pretty quickly. This managed to hit the perfect tone of being humorous without being comical, and I certainly never got tired of it. Your interactions with the doctor are particularly fun. And, of course, the game is solidly implemented, so it’s really a nice way to spend some time.

I had two main problems with the game. The first was that I didn’t really know much about my character. I could assume I was some kind of “rogue” from the title, and I knew that I was a human currently in a world dominated by non-humans, but that was about it. My second problem was that I didn’t find the ending very satisfying. (Spoiler - click to show)Near the end of the game, you are presented with a binary choice, and this seems to lead to the two endings (at least I didn’t find any more than two endings). Neither ending was very satisfying.

However, the problems I had didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the game, and it’s short enough that I didn’t feel too let down by the endings.

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
Life is weird in the multiverse., November 22, 2010
by Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia)
Related reviews: IFComp 2010, TADS, science fiction, comedy

(Review of the original IF Comp 2010 release)

Rogue of the Multiverse is a humorous sci-fi adventure with some wacky/peculiar dynamics which guarantee that its story maintains unpredictability for its short to moderate duration. Whenever you start to feel you might be getting a handle on your situation, the space carpet is likely to be pulled from underneath you in a slightly Hitchhiker's Guide fashion. The result is a mixture of pleasant surprises and disorienting turns which will cause each player to identify different bits that they enjoyed the most, and disagree with others about which bits made them go, 'Huh?'

(Spoiler - click to show)The game will also prompt arguments about whether one should make kissy faces at alien lizard doctors or try to sock them between their stupid beady eyes as soon as one gets the chance.

In this game you play the eponymous rogue, and while "Rogue of the Multiverse" sounds like a real badass title, the kind to be bestowed upon a Han Solo, the segment of your life portrayed here happens to be one of the mushier ones. In the space prison where the game begins, none of the other inmates react to you as if you have any street credibility at all, and pretty soon you're the lab monkey in the rather unimpressive experiments of one Doctor Sliss, a condescending lady lizard who is convinced that bananas are your god. I did feel a little annoyed at my own confusion at having to move about the science complex with the commands 'forwards' and 'backwards', but this ultimately wasn't a huge issue.

Thus a rogue's lot in life appears to be that of playing second fiddle to a reptilian scientist, searching randomised grids of alien turf for interesting people and things to tag at her behest. The descriptions of the alien inhabitants and their behaviours are pretty cute, and each bout of exploration feels not entirely unlike a game of Hunt The Wumpus. Once you work out what you're doing, this section is fun but pretty easy, so it's good that it doesn't outstay its welcome. I was disappointed, however, that I was not able to butter up some of the aliens with goodies procured from the Doctor's complex to convince them not to remove their tags.

Just when you think you've got this grid searching thing nailed, a helpful space agent shows up in a space toilet and assures you he can bust you out of captivity if you just buy him the stuff that will allow him to cobble the escape thingy together... Eww, but he's in the space toilet! Moving toward your escape is arguably the most tense part of Rogue, but afterwards, proceedings get - relatively speaking - even weirder.

My own sense of aggro towards Doctor Sliss, my former jailer, after the tables were turned (or at least shuffled around) never did find release. At first I thought the game was strongly signalling that I could not avoid casting my lot in with her, to the extent that when I had an opportunity to do something contrary to her wishes, I missed it. Plus I was probably distracted by the recent excitement of a chase on jet bikes, another sequence which arrived with the game's customary surprising-ness. What's obvious though is Sliss's presence as a well-written, if inscrutable, character, whether you feel amorous or murderous towards her.

The game's last scenes on another planet (assuming you go that route) feel like the unheralded ending of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, the one where you forget about the adventure you were having for the last 80 pages and suddenly travel to another time, meet new people and assume an entirely new role, all within the space of one page and one illustration. Of course this isn't literally what happens in Rogue, but it generates a similar sensation. And this is not an inappropriate final sensation for a game whose story structure and interests have hardly been traditional beginning, middle and end. The game feels more like a window onto the amusing and chaotic adventures of a rather put-upon individual, adventures which were probably just as strange before the game began and will continue to be as strange after the game ends. The title could almost be a joke, or at least ironic. Or it could be the po-faced earnest assessment of the main character's view of him or herself.

The game's peculiar turns felt weird while I was playing it, but they evoked a small portion of universe held together by wonky chance rather than sense. It was the vision of that wonky universe which stayed with me after I completed this well written and executed adventure.

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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
A guided tour through some fun and technically clever ideas., November 21, 2010
by rach
Related reviews: if comp 2010

I'm finding it hard to think about the game as a whole. It is intentionally modular, and I have no problem with that, but there wasn't enough of a character thread holding it together, leaving it feeling like a dream: (Spoiler - click to show)"Well first I was in prison with these scary aliens, and then I was running around in a space suit, and THEN there was this talking poo! and THEN! we were on a jet bike!" I felt the PC was a puppet and had assistance from unsavoury quarters -- (Spoiler - click to show)a toilet worm? really? -- where I would have preferred to work things out for myself. Every puzzle is guided by NPCs, leaving the PC with only the carrying out.

Not that the carrying out wasn't IMMENSE fun. It really was. The pace was kept very high, and the action felt thrilling and stylish and very imaginative. There was (Spoiler - click to show)a vehicle chase!! How often do you get chases in IF? in any written fiction? It was awesome, I was totally swept up in it.

I found one bug: (Spoiler - click to show)
Answering "no" to "do you identify as male or female?" actually caused the game to break completely.

Enter your name:>> Pip
“Pip!” the doctor repeats cheerfully. “How barely pronounceable!
And do you identify as male or female, Pip?”

(You could say male, or female.)

> no
Dr. Sliss just smiles and nods.

and you are out of the conversation, the game never progresses, and you have to restart. We can leave the political discussion of non-binary gender for another day, for now I'll just say; that's quite a bad bug for an otherwise solidly programmed game.

The game is compassless, it uses forward-left-right instead of north-east-west. I'd not come across this before and loved how subtly it was done. It really cleans up the prose to be able to do this. Not sure how easy it would be to keep the locations straight in my head for a bigger map, but it was fine and very welcome on this scale.

Altogether a brilliantly fun game to play, but could have been tighter with more PC-led choices.

[This review is of the competition release, IF Comp 2010.]

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful:
Minigames, Meet IF! Plus Bananas!, November 11, 2010
by Danielle (The Wild West)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2010

ROGUE is a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi trek that'll keep you coming back for more.

Normally when I play IF, I play to get through the story. And often, IF is streamlined to that end: the rooms you encounter and the people you talk to and the objects you find are all designed to either get you "in" to the story (through atmosphere and object descriptions) or get you to the end of the story.

ROGUE's mission areas are one of the few instances I've seen in IF where you can plunk around for a long, enjoyable time, not doing anything to further the plot (if you desire). In other words, ROGUE's mission areas act as a minigame, and a darn fun one at that.

You can play an infinite amount of missions, because they're procedurally generated. But they're not lame missions, no--each world you're beamed to has its own fully-realized character, whether it's a cybernetic city or a series of grassy fields.

When you're done with a mission, you return with all kinds of crazy loot, resulting in kooky commentary from the doctor about the booty. Oh, yeah, and you get money, too, which means you can buy things from the store. Delivery to your, uh, "home" is automatic; once you've bought something, return to your house and see the awesome alien junk you've acquired!

The ability to buy all the store's random merchandise and play the missions at your leisure, without being required to do anything to advance the plot--heck, without being *penalized* for not advancing the plot--delighted me. Absolutely delighted me.

I also enjoyed the unconventional setup of ROGUE. It starts in a prison. I was expecting it to go 1984, but then I (Spoiler - click to show)wind up a lab experiment. I was expecting it to go (Spoiler - click to show)PORTAL, but then suddenly I'm roaming around like a (Spoiler - click to show)TOMB RAIDER with access to the Home Shopping Network. Then things go kablooie and now I feel like I'm driving through (Spoiler - click to show)DIE HARD. And that ending? (Spoiler - click to show)What is this, THE PRESTIGE meets TEMERAIRE? It was wonderful to have my expectations swept aside in such fun ways.

I do have one complaint, though, and it almost made me take off a star.

Dr. Sliss' cursing.

I understand this game has a subversive sense of humor. And yes, parts of Dr. Sliss' questionaire raise an eyebrow. But in my mind, the main bulk of the game felt "PG," so encountering such strong language in the finale felt really REALLY jarring to me. It didn't fit the tone of the rest of the game.

Plus, while I know IF is generally made By Adults, For Adults...the whole scenario has a Bruce Coville/ARTEMIS FOWL kind of vibe that I think middle-school kids would get a kick out of. I would have loved to've played this game as a kid, and I know there are a lot of parents and children out there today who'd have fun playing through this together. With all kindness, I invite the author to consider editing out that language in a post-comp release.

Even if that never changes, I highly recommend ROGUE OF THE MULTIVERSE. You'll love the alien cultures, you'll love Sliss, you'll love the rip-roarin' finale, and you'll love taggin' random items for booty. It's a blast.

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