Number of Reviews: 6
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What did I just play?, May 16, 2021
I sat there for a few minutes in silence after finishing this game. I needed to digest what I had just experienced, and I had tears in my eyes.
I've not played many pieces of IF that effected me this profoundly.
I'll bet the non-spoilery things out of the way first, but then there'll be massive spoilers.
I love the set up, that it's played as though you're actually controlling a robot that's been dropped off at the site to salvage anything that's been left behind, and that the output reflects this with it being in 1st person present. I imagine that must've been a pain to get right. I remember when I first tried playing it back when it was originally released that some of the prompts like the one for quitting were a bit messed up.
I also love that the usual save, restore and undo commands are described as being an experimental time folding system.
I don't think it's too spoilery to say that there's more going on than just a treasure hunt. For years I thought it was going to be a murder mystery, but no, I was extremely wrong.
And here is where I'll get into spoilers, although if you've read other reviews you'd probably know what it's about already.
(Spoiler - click to show)You find technology that allows people to experience simulations created for it like they're lucid dreams. It's like the ultimate VR system, and one's still loaded up. It's a program that lets you experience what it was like being a young female slave called Lynda on the plantation you have been instructed to search.
Now, I'm a white woman. So I don't think it's my place to comment on if the scenes in this part of the game were sensitively portrayed. So I will just talk about how it personally made me feel.
I was horrified even though I sort of knew what to expect. I also felt completely helpless even though it was just a game. The robot I was controlling was being brutally punished and forced to work in the fields, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I assume that if this was real, I would be sat all comfortable in an office somewhere miles away, watching this robot telling me exactly what was being done to them, and exactly how they felt now they had a sense of self, rather than just being a box of microchips. And I had put them in this situation.
All i could do was give them commands. My main goal was finding a way out of the simulation, so I thought instructing them to perform a shutdown would stop it. But no, the robot begged me to tell them to cancel. When I did, they said something like "Thanks, Master Goldfinch". that did me in.
How I kept playing the game from there is a mystery to me. By then, I was in bits over a fictional robot who thought I was their master that I just wrote "I am not your master" into the parser and hit enter, but the game just thought I wanted to check my inventory. I wanted the robot to be free but all I could do was carry on giving them orders.
So I set about trying to free Linda, which I didn't manage. I went the wrong way while trying to find how to escape and ran into the master. What happened to her them was despicable.
Now back into the present the robot still was sentient and aware of what they had experienced, and was begging for freedom, so I told them to drop everything and leave. I wouldn't have cared if NASC hadn't let me off.
Then it was finally over. I just typed quit after reading the credits and whatnot and just sat there.
The reason I have only given it 4 stars is that some locations didn't change their descriptions to reflect what the robot had experienced, which broke the emersion slightly. I'd much rather give it 4.5 stars but that's not an option.
So all that long ramble to say that it's a must play, but make sure you are emotionally prepared for it, if you even can be.