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Archive file that is playable with an INSTEAD interpreter. https://instead-hub.​github.​io/​en/
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I.A.G. Alpha

by Serhii Mozhaiskyi

Science Fiction

Web Site

(based on 14 ratings)
7 reviews

About the Story

You may think this game is about a post-Soviet Research Institute. About an experiment that went out of control. You may think that the initials "I.A.G." are somehow related to the Institute. You may think this game is unfinished. You may even think that the game ends exactly as the author tells you.

But then you will figure it out -- these statements are not entirely true.

* There are two endings in this game.

* Credits roll at the end of the game.

* If you do not see the credits roll, you haven't reached the end of the game. Yet.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2018
Current Version: 1.0
License: Freeware
Development System: INSTEAD
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
IFID: Unknown
TUID: erj212utudi2kltv


Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Puzzles; Nominee - Rooftop puzzle, Best Individual Puzzle; Nominee - Ruslan, Best Individual NPC; Nominee - Nikolai, Best Individual PC; Winner, Best Use of Innovation - 2018 XYZZY Awards

18th Place - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)

Editorial Reviews


All the different interfaces are well done individually and combine into a coherent whole. The conceit of reviving an earlier buggy game is charming, and the missing graphics and author notes throughout the game are excellent touches.
See the full review

McT's Interactive Fiction Reviews

Truly meta, in the best possible sense, this little puzzly choice game is a delight. It is anything but incomplete, this game. It is a completely polished little gem. <...> The only ding this game gets is for its length. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, then it ends. I do get it though – this must have taken quite a bit of implementing.
See the full review

The Breakfast Review
On the whole, I found this to be an intriguing little gem of a puzzle. The writing was fairly terse, which I found to be a relief after some of the wordier offerings so far. It felt to be just right for what the game was. And the Soviet complex setting did seem very suitable to the mechanics of the game, though of course they're technically unrelated; so did the general visual presentation of the yellowed drafting paper background. Very nice.
See the full review


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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Brilliant meta game, November 23, 2018

I.A.G. Alpha was my favorite game from IFComp 2018, and I played all of them. An English translation of a work originally written in Russian, I.A.G. Alpha appears to be an unfinished game about a guy working at a post-Soviet research institute. Its opening text consists of a note from the author explaining that he never finished writing the game but decided to release what he had written anyway. On the second screen there are comments like "TODO: finish the scene on the roof" and "TODO: comment out the debugger." And, sure enough, there's a DEBUGGER command in the upper right corner that lets you peek into parts of the game's source code. After a few scenes the author stops the action once again, this time to say that he thinks the introductory text is too long, to detail what his original plan for the game was, and then to explain more about why he never finished it.

You play a little further, and you eventually come to realize that the "unfinished" aspect of the game you are purportedly playing is entirely intentional - in fact, it's a setup for the real game to pull what I think is the most genius meta move I've ever seen. I really don't want to spoil it by giving it away, but it's so simple and yet so fundamental. And that's what makes it work so well.

An absolutely brilliant game.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Memorable use of debugger, March 27, 2021
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

Institute for Advanced Genetics or Incomplete Adventure Game: I.A.G. Alpha presents itself as an unfinished alpha version of a game set in a dubious research facility. The purported story is hackneyed in the extreme, with an obsessed scientist failing to ask questions about the ethics of his work until one day he finds out that his partner has not really been finding ‘volunteers’ at all… after which there’s a dramatic rooftop fight and the good and the bad guy both die. Fortunately, this story is merely the backdrop for something much more interesting: our quest to get through the game using the debugger.

There are, in essence, three stages to the game. In the first, we use the debugger to solve puzzles. For instance, we (Spoiler - click to show)click on a plant and find out that it contains a key, after which we obtain it. This use of the debugger is optional, but it was already fun, and I found myself relying on it extensively. In the second, we learn to use the debugger’s single active power, which is the power to rename objects. Our insights into the source code of the different objects in the world allows us to solve puzzles through smart renaming. Serhii Mozhaiskyi does a good job of guiding us through progressively harder versions of this puzzle, although I must admit that I got stuck at (Spoiler - click to show)the axe. (I spent a lot of time trying something far too complex: rename an object to axe", is_fixed = true –, in order to add real source code to the object. Of course that didn’t work, and the solution was far simpler.) In the third stage, (Spoiler - click to show)we are invited to use our expertise to change the plot against the fictional author’s wishes, exploiting a bug-like feature in the source code of one of the objects.

All of this was a lot of fun and I.A.G. Alpha is a very memorable game. I do think the author could have been more subtle about the third stage: it would have been much more satisfying to (Spoiler - click to show)defeat the fictional author’s plot without first having been told, quite explicitly, that this was the idea of the game. Perhaps the real author was afraid that too many people would then miss this possibility? Perhaps – but I think that’s a risk very much worth taking.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A brilliant choice game with a meta narrative and text input, February 3, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This is a well-done IFComp 2018 game.

It runs in ITCH and is primarily choice-based. The conceit is that the author wanted to develop a big, fun sci-fi fi puzzle game, but didn't succeed.

Instead, he leaves the frame of his unfinished game alone, and adds author commentary. As the game progresses, the protagonist has more and more power to affect the game itself.

The styling is excellent, with several beautiful images and switches between different interfaces. The music is lovely and appropriate.

This is a game made with love, and it shows.

See All 7 Member Reviews

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Recommended Lists

I.A.G. Alpha appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Best of each authoring system by Denk
I intend to try the best games of each authoring system, so there will no doubt be many changes to this list in the future. So far, I think the following games are the best for each system I have tried: (games in alphabetic order)

Games about interactive fiction itself by MathBrush
This is hopefully my last list. These are games that comment on the nature of interactive fiction or the interactive fiction community itself. The quality of these games varies wildly, and this list doesn't attempt to sort by quality....


The following polls include votes for I.A.G. Alpha:

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Innovation of 2018 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2018 which you think might be worth considering for Best Innovation in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is partly to suggest...

Games where the interaction is really cool and clever by Isa
I'm really interested in games which put a new spin on the mechanics. I'm thinking of a specific one where the narrator is really mean to you and is its own character in the game, but I'm really interested in any games which are...

For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Overall Games of 2018 - by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2018 which you think might be worth considering for Best Game in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is partly to suggest games...


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