Christminster

by Gareth Rees

Collegiate/Mystery
1995

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Reviews and Ratings

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Number of Ratings: 77
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- NorkaBoid (Ohio, USA), November 14, 2021

- Karlok (Netherlands), April 14, 2021

- kierlani, April 25, 2020

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
The university of puzzles great and small., April 12, 2020
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: Puzzler

I must confess to a serious character flaw, a deeply rooted chasm that runs through the heart of my being. It is a source of frustration and temptation, it leads me to reach above my abilities and cheat to grasp above my reach. It is the following:

I suck at puzzles and I love puzzle-games.

I had previously banged my head against the front door of Christminster University. I gave up each time. This time I gave in to temptation and sinned. I consulted a walkthrough. And I have no remorse.

I loved this game. The puzzles after that fiendish first one were milder to me (I cheated a few times more though), and stubborn exploring got me further and further in the game, and also in the story.

The progression of the story is great. You get the chance to get to know your character and one NPC in particular, a marvellous professor with whom you get to spend a good amount of time. The clock on the tower announces your progression through the puzzles as you get nearer to the endgame. That detail works as a brilliant way to heighten the tension, it lets you know each time you've gotten closer to... what?

The puzzles are hard, but the reward you get is great. You can explore more and more hidden parts of the old building, and the atmosphere is gripping.

A really really good game.


- IFonthebrain, February 28, 2020

- Walter Sandsquish, January 31, 2020

- Stian, May 31, 2019

- mjw1007, February 18, 2018

- Havner, January 29, 2018

- shornet (Bucharest), April 13, 2017

- Greg Frost (Seattle, Washington), February 11, 2017

- Sobol (Russia), January 5, 2017

- winterfury (Russia), December 10, 2016

- nosferatu, September 23, 2016

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An exremely well-crafted game of extreme difficulty, February 3, 2016

Christminster is set in a British University, where you are looking for your lost brother. You encounter a variety of obstacles and discover various ancient secrets.

This game has a host of well-crafted NPC's, timed events, and other difficult-to-implement concepts. The puzzles are logical, and exploring around for long enough is enough to get many of the puzzles. Several of the NPC's are quite funny, and there is a fun cryptographic puzzle.

Even though this game is well-crafted, it didn't really call out to me at first. I have realized that I am prejudiced against upper-class PC's, and against college-related games. I've had similar issues with Savoir-Faire, Violet, and the Lurking Horror. However, when I finally reached the end of the game with a walkthrough, I really enjoyed it.

This game was one of the most popular games in the mid 90's, along with Curses!, Jigsaw, and Theatre.


- Aryore, December 13, 2015

- SleepyEmp, May 24, 2015

- Chris Longhurst (Oxford, UK), April 21, 2015

- Thrax, March 11, 2015

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Classic Oxbridge College adventure, February 6, 2015

In 2015, Christminster is almost 20 years old. It's closer in time to the Infocom classics than to the present and this is getting truer and truer. Trying to compile it from source requires digging out the Inform 5 compiler (which seems to crash with a segmentation fault?). The real question is how has it aged? Is it a timeless classic or a period piece?

I think the evidence is clear that it's at the very least a timeless near-classic. One can recognize a game that plays with Inform's new-for-the-time capabilities in what may now seem a stylized fashion, but which for its time must have been new and fresh. The important point is that the story holds up. The writing is witty, the puzzles are well-structured, and the whole thing fits together.

The most impressive quality for me though is the near-perfect timing and coherence of the whole. This is the definitive Oxbridge College adventure. The College feels right, the buildings look right, the eccentric Dons are right. The setting is some ill-defined post-war period; perhaps the point is it could be any time between say 1945-1954 (post-war, no mention of rationing) and 1972-1988 (women are admitted to mens' Colleges). The very timelessness is critical, and the author uses this, for example in the prologue which mentions strawberries. There are also a Chapel, a punt, a garden.

Particularly effective is the use of time. The game's structure uses the player's achievements to advance the clock. Within the different episodes, there is flexibility, however. The underlying plot is the driven forward by certain actions with irrevocable consequences (it is possible to get stuck in a non-winning situation). The hint system becomes vaguer with time. I certainly peeked at the source code a few times. I had not played the game for a long time and thought I remembered the winning sequences, but I was mistaken (a good thing, I would argue).

Getting all the points is not easy, but the game is fair in the sense of Chekov's Gun. Everything that is of later importance is indicated in some fashion. Possibly not the a reference to the Meldrew family buried in the game, but that is not actually needed. A tribute to Curses and to the origin of Inform.

Finally, while the author explains the origin of Christminster and Biblioll, it is an interesting exercise to see whether the setting is more like Cambridge or Oxford. The use of the word "supervision" suggests Cambridge, as does the river flowing South to North, although there are no historical Cambridge colleges on the west bank of the Cam. And the name Biblioll is of course based on Balliol, while it is older than Cambridge. In the end, it doesn't matter because the disparate elements come together and one is immersed in what feels like a College.

One of my favorite (Christminster spelling) games every. Every student of Inform should play it at least once.


- morlock, January 15, 2015

- Snave, December 9, 2014

- ngmiller (Boulder, CO), June 9, 2014

- lisapaul, January 10, 2014

- KidRisky (Connecticut, USA), December 25, 2013


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