The Erudition Chamber

by Daniel Freas profile

Fantasy
2003

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Interesting concept, not a strong story, July 10, 2011

The premise of the Erudition Chamber is that the protagonist is being put through a series of tests in order to determine which of four sects -- Warrior, Alchemist, Artisan, Seer -- he belongs to.

To this end, each chamber contains a puzzle with multiple solutions; each of the possible solutions is associated with a given personality trait. There's also some add-on effect, in that certain equipment can be lost or used up if you follow certain solutions. It's an experiment with the idea that the player is essentially defining a character through the way he chooses to act in the world. We see that in RPGs all the time (e.g. in games where you can earn melee experience points every time you swing your sword), but less frequently in IF.

All this said, I'm not sure how well the game actually works as an assessment of personal problem-solving skills. Some of the puzzle solution styles are much more obvious than others, and I found that rather than play through the puzzles as a personality test, I quickly started to try to game the system. Getting the Warrior sect point by bashing through something was usually the easiest option, but also therefore the least satisfying, and it was more fun to try for some other approach. Completist players will likely want to find all four solutions to every puzzle.

The writing is not as interesting. The story, such as it is, is all about being tested. It feels pretty artificial, both in the idea of setting up this test in the first place and in the lore that goes with the various puzzle-solving styles. There's a lot to read about, say, what it means to be a Seer, but very little sense of characters or of the broader setting that would make this kind of world possible.

Personally, I found this piece more interesting as a kind of essay about interactivity and the ways a game might detect and adapt to player preferences than as entertainment. But that's still definitely worth checking out for people who are interested in those questions.