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In the End

by Joe Mason

Science Fiction

(based on 16 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

Your best friend has just died, and life drags on miserably. Would death be better than this?
[--blurb from The Z-Files Catalogue]

Game Details


15th Place - 2nd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1996)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

A serious and experimental short work about progress and mortality, set in a future with one particularly important technical advancement. This story subverts a lot of text adventure conventions - no compass directions, very little inventory, no "winning" in the conventional sense, and, most importantly, no puzzles. This is one for the theorists to argue about. It tries to motivate the player through character and environment alone, but falls a bit short of its goal - the environment could do with more depth, and the author's intentions aren't clear enough to make the resolution completely satisfying. However, it deserves a lot of credit for the emotional content that does come across.

-- Carl Muckenhoupt

It's a mood piece, with a brooding atmosphere, which starts at a funeral and doesn't get much more cheerful. The quality of writing is exceptional - possibly the best I've seen in IF, and certainly the best of this year's competition.
-- John Wood

All things considered, this was an interesting experiment, but, even ignoring the guessing puzzles, it was also very short, and didn't quite convince me of the feasibility of larger puzzle-less I-F games.
-- C.E. Forman

If you can make a complete story out of fragments, then you and "In The End" will work out nicely. However, the point of IF is not to hand the player a bunch of fragments to sort out, it is to place a complete story in the hands of the player.
-- Chris Klimas
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

Hmmm. The first character Iíve been totally unable to identify with ó the author shows us an interesting world with friendship, intellectual interest, potential for love, and incredible technological comfort, and wants us to believe that the foremost desire one could have in this world is for suicide. I just canít buy into the idea of convenience creating a lethal level of ennui, if indeed this is the reason for the main characterís suicidal urges. Iím reaching, because no good reason is given.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
An emotional shred of philosophy, April 20, 2010

There is something surreal about this game Ė something that kept me reading (and sometimes rereading) every line of text. I will say right away that this game is not for those looking for a puzzle or an adventure. In The End doesnít have a sophisticated conversation system, a complicated puzzle, or deeply interactive NPCs. What it does have, however, is a deep philosophical edge that will really get you thinking.

In The End starts out at the funeral of your friend, as you think upon death and life and where you fit into it all. From there, you must simply do what feels right. The endings which you can reach vary only slightly on the surface, but the feeling you get from them are vastly different. Proceeding through the game is easy and at some point, becomes instinctive.

In The End creates the illusion of a greater world beyond the parameters of the game. When in reality, there is very little depth to the actual environment and few descriptions for examinable objects.

One other thing that I found really interesting: Upon trying to save the game or undo a move, I was presented with ďLife doesnít work that way.Ē That single phrase adds to the realism of the PCís situation. He is caught in a moment of life where walking away from the computer screen isnít an option.

If I was rating this game purely on its emotional impact and philosophical spin, I would give it the full five stars. Rating it as a regular IF game, I would give it three. But, keeping in mind that In The End is really not quite one, nor the other, I will settle for a four.

So, if you have five minutes to play a short, meaningful game, then open up In The End.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An early experiment in puzzleless IF, a moody and dark piece, May 31, 2016

This game was well known a decade or two ago. This is a dark and moody, puzzleless game. You go to a funeral, meet with some NPCS, and experience some moody set pieces.

The interactivity is off; you have to guess a lot what to do, from beginning to end.

This game was ahead of its time in many ways. It doesn't use the compass it was puzzleless 2 years before photopia, and it restricted the parser. It is descriptive and polished.

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Upon further reflection..., June 21, 2020

I first gave In the End a silent two-star review. I dislike it and consider it Not Good, but it's not hideously broken or otherwise defective. But then I gave a two-star review to a game that, given a choice between "like" or "dislike", I "like." So I'm coming back and saying loud and clear: I must put In the End in the one-star bin along with those Actually Terrible games.

Unfair, perhaps, but I'm not the one who came up with this railroad mood piece.

24 years ago, I rolled my eyes so hard I could hear the straining in my head when I realized what the author was trying to get me to guess.

Revisiting it today, I smile a sad wry smile at the ABOUT screen's wish: "In The End" will be, I hope, the first successful "puzzle-less IF", but its success will not completely close the question.

Looking at what has followed, the author gets a rousing "Mission accomplished."

Today I'm softer on the piece (24 years does that) and perhaps it's the countless choice games in similar veins which make it easier to spell out where I think In the End fails.

In a nominally open-ended parser experience, the author can do a lot to set the tone and give guidance and establish goals. And the author can make me desperately bored enough to want to quit. But if you want me to (Spoiler - click to show)conclude that suicide is the only option, I'm gonna need a lot more, and In the End doesn't come close to delivering it.

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In the End on IFDB

Recommended Lists

In the End appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Works Consulted by Drew Cook
I've decided to make a list of games that have influenced my writing, whether it be criticism or game development. I'll be adding to this over time. Comments and questions are welcome! There is no particular order or rating, no matter...

Puzzle-less IF by mjhayes
Interactive stories without the puzzles. Most of them are short, and morbid as well, so be prepared.

Honorable Mentions by mjhayes
These are pieces of IF that were written with a specific writing concept in mind. They deserve mention for their respective authors' efforts.

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