Number of Reviews: 4
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Not what I was expecting from a Dystopian piece, January 8, 2016
by mjhayes (Somewhere east of Garinham)
I entered into this story, expecting an interactive story not unlike 1984. It certainly seems to start off that way. You play as a minor bureaucrat working in a huge government tower. People have been going mad lately, most recently your immediate supervisor - and the story begins with your having an appointment with the Grand Inquisitor.
Sounds interesting when you begin, and there are a few interesting puzzles, a couple of which I thought were a little unfair. The first is (Spoiler - click to show)what it takes to get into the Bureau of Records - (Spoiler - click to show)there are two solutions, both of which remind me of the kind of tough puzzles commonly hurled at players back at the time this piece was written. The second is (Spoiler - click to show)sabotaging the security system for the prison doors. In all likelihood, you'll have to backtrack at least once for an important clue or item, leaving someone waiting. To be fair, the author did write the story to make it impossible to get into an unwinnable state, and does give the player ample opportunity to avoid death, so you don't have to worry so much about save scumming.
At one point, you're faced with a choice whether to continue the story or let it end. If you slug it out to the end, you'll discover (Spoiler - click to show)there are no good endings. You can either die or spend the rest of your life in a mental hospital, where you will receive regular electroshock "treatment." So having ended the game halfway through is really the closest thing to a good ending there is.
What I was hoping for in a true story of the Orwellian genre, was a large back story about how oppressed the citizens are and how thoroughly corrupt the government has become. There's hardly any of that here. Instead, you ultimately learn that the spreading madness (Spoiler - click to show)is fabricated by the Inquisitor himself, who is implanting people with Augmented Reality gear and projecting sounds and "three-dee" images that only one person hears or sees, and then using that as "evidence" of their loss of sanity and putting them away in the State Hospital. All that because (Spoiler - click to show)attendance at the public execution trials has been declining lately, and so all the time you spend in the latter part of the story, (Spoiler - click to show)breaking out of prison cells and running away from guards, was all staged in advance. You had become an unwitting contestant in a game show of life-or-death.
If the story had been advertised for what it is, and didn't lead me to believe it was an actual interactive struggle against a totalitarian regime, then I would have liked it better. The length of the game is just right in my opinion, not too short and not too long, and there aren't too many puzzles. It's worth a couple hours of your time, and that's all.