Firebird

by Bonnie Montgomery

Fantasy
1998

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Number of Reviews: 9
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A classic which just needs a little more fleshing out, October 25, 2019

This game is one of the first "modern" IF games that I played (probably my first download after playing Adventure), and the story has stuck with me through the years; although I couldn't remember all the details prior to this evening's replaying, I knew there was a part with a certain cute semiaquatic carnivorous mammal coming up which I liked.

The game cleverly allows several different endings, and it is a joy to go back through the game and retry all of them. The puzzles, though challenging, are not impossible. Unfamiliar with the Russian rhymes mentioned in another user's review, but quite familiar with Soviet cinema, I giggled at Montgomery's off-handed mention of the "irony of fate," surely a reference to the title of the 1975 classic comedy (which I have begun insisting that we watch in my home every New Years; Andrei Myagkov is my soul).

My major quibble with the game is that it needs a few more details - for example, descriptions of exits are not consistently available, making parts of the game seem much more difficult than they really are: more than once, I circled an area, not realizing I just needed to go north. (That is not a spoiler.) Moreover, some items described in the body of the room description have no description of their own as a decoration. For example, a non-player character handles a garment, but when you try to interact with or examine the garment, the garment does not exist - "I don't know the word ____." These are minor details, but considering that (1) all descriptions are part of an already-rich and rewarding Firebird world, and (2) Montgomery's humorous descriptions and in-jokes are so accessible, cross-linguistic, and pleasantly ubiquitous, it is disappointing not to be able to dig down into the details to find extra easter-eggs.

Overall, however, I give it 4.5 stars out of 5 - I must round up to a full 5-star review, because even for these missing details, the game is incredibly full and rich, and there are details yet to be discovered. Also, Vasilii's NPC is a delight, and he earns an extra half-star on his own. In another 20 years, I will happily play this game again - indeed, most likely far sooner than that.