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(based on 12 ratings)
About the Story
Set in an unusual cyber/virtual reality background, you play a disembodied consciousness trapped in an electron prison of the mind.
Language: English (en)
Current Version: Release 3
Development System: Inform 5
Baf's Guide ID: 140
2nd Place, Inform Division - First Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1995)
Escape from cyberspace in this small game. An ambitious attempt at providing a virtual environment operating on logical rules that the player must figure out. Unfortunately, it makes a few too many assumptions about how the player will interperet the world; few puzzles are solvable without using the built-in hint menu to find out what the author was thinking. Full of time limits.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
The puzzles are fairly easy, though one or two are quite contrived and may need quite a bit of thinking about. Also, you tend to die a lot as you are only given a limited number of turns to solve a problem before being dumped back at the restore/restart prompt.
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[Reviews by Magnus Olsson, Palmer Davis and Gareth Rees]
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Number of Reviews: 4
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I thought that a game opening with a William Gibson quote would be something to look at. Hm. The problem was that I never quite understood the game's mechanics. So it was a bit of looking around and trying. And failing. I didn't get what anything was supposed to represent in computer terms, the time limits are evil, and well, I couldn't bring myself to care about the story that much thanks to all this.
(It's a bad thing when puzzles don't make sense even after looking at the walkthrough.)
But I have to say that all this is in a large part due to personal taste in IF - while I'm not completely averse to puzzles, I'm averse to these (leaps of logic, a lot of trial and error), and the Tron-like VR environment didn't immerse me at all.
This game's imagery reminded me a bit of Tron. You are enclosed in a cube with a grid of lines as a virtual fence around you. Only your mind is imprisoned, in a VR environment. Someone is trying to get you out, and you must follow their directions.
The game requires many unusual leaps of logic, as well as a few difficult guessing problems. The story was fun, the map was easy to navigate, and the puzzle solutions often make sense after the fact.
Having played many of the old school games, I feel like the story of this one is better than most (I preferred it over Uncle Zebulons Will), but it's difficult puzzles combined with its strict linearity is a problem. A more open puzzle plan would have helped.
The underlying premise of the game is that there is some sort of war between two entities called Kaden and Souden, the latter of which you belong to. Apparently, you were skulking around in Kaden cyberspace but were caught and are now trapped in a cell, waiting for the Kaden to put you through a loyalty transfer program. You also know that the Souden are planning to attack. It would be ideal to escape cyberspace before that occurs.
A lot of games about cyberspace (or at least those that I have played) take place in the "real world" with the player tapping into cyberspace at regulator intervals. This one almost entirely takes place in cyberspace. The player begins in a virtual containment cell. Any efforts to move around results in "You are contained." But as you are tracing the lines on the walls, floor, and ceiling, a piece of paper appears with basic instructions are the start of your escape. This, along with other signs, shows that someone is trying to help you which adds suspense and mystery.
There is also great atmosphere with a sense of danger, such as (Spoiler - click to show) a voice in the background announcing to who-knows-who that a scan is about to occur in the sector where you are hiding. The scan seeks out intruders and if you are detected a pulse will liquefy you. In addition, in the game’s world you will find strange sights. The multi-faced cube, the spider and its doll, the factory full of machines, and the mysterious sheet of paper were ominous but kind of cool. It all paints a surreal impression.
While intriguing, this is also a challenging and technical game. I can tell you now, I had to play with hints. An example is (Spoiler - click to show) finding the correct box needed to restore the cube's voice by asking it about different boxes and seeing if the cube nods, blinks, frowns, or smiles to indicate how close you are to finding it, almost like a high-tech version of a hot-or-cold game. I could not solve this without a walkthrough although I was able to understand the puzzle afterwards and replicate it without help in later playthroughs (this game can place you in an unwinnable state, be sure to save). Discovering (Spoiler - click to show) the spider's commands was another area that I needed help with because the spider is picky about syntax. It will accept "spider, help" but not "ask spider for help." Or "spider, status" but not "ask spider about status." I would find the sphere that halted the lxprog program but failed to realize that you need the spider to erase it.
I would have liked a little more discussion on the story. Is this solely warfare in cyberspace or is it in the physical world as well? What type of entities are the Kaden and Souden? Even the ending does not clarify much. (Spoiler - click to show) The man we meet at the end explains that the war is just the Kaden and the Souden taking people from the other side and running them through loyalty transfer programs, creating a back-and-forth type of fighting. The other thing I could pick out about the story is that the man also says that the player unknowingly created the cube that helped them escape, almost as if the player found a way out through sheer willpower. Or at least that is how I interpreted what he said. Regardless, I still have lingering questions about this war and its participants, as well as the protagonist’s identity. On a similar note, the cube, which was generally lacking in the number of things you can ask it, had something to say about the Kaden and Souden. (Spoiler - click to show) Kaden apparently means "electric charge" while Souden means "electric supply." I am not entirely sure of what to make of this information but still found it interesting.
But yes, this game is moderately cryptic and challenging to complete without guidance, but the setting and story drew me in (as did the title). If you like playing games in cyberspace experiment with it. It is not a game for everyone but know that it does not take long to complete with a walkthrough in case you are curious about how it ends.
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