by Brian Moriarty

Fantasy, Time Travel

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- ENyman78 (Gold Beach, OR), October 30, 2023

- Max Fog, October 8, 2023

- Snen (United States), September 23, 2023

- Kastel, August 10, 2023

- Drew Cook (Acadiana, USA), July 26, 2023

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Educational and Atmospheric, but those Blasted Puzzles!, March 12, 2023
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

On the heels of A Mind Forever Voyaging, Infocom told another story about a nightmare future brought down on us by power and hubris. But rather than a projected future brought along by Reaganomics, this game explores the impacts of Project Trinity, the first detonation of an atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert. While the examination of atomic history is impressively accurate and subtly powerful, the game itself gets in the way, with the fallout leaving a pernicious impact on its emotional resonance.

The game begins as you are on vacation in London, taking in the sights of Kensington Gardens. Within the hour, you are witness to and a victim of a nuclear attack that presumably begins World War III. Successfully avoiding the attack entails escaping the gardens through a magic portal into a fantasy world filled with giant mushrooms, incredible but twisted landscapes, and a slew of innocent animals. It is clear fairly quickly that this world is a metaphor for Earthís atomic history and that your goal is to try to make things right. In order to travel back in time to visit the Trinity test site, you must first visit other atomic sites such as Nagasaki and the Bikini Atoll.

Brian Moriarty (author of Wishbringer and Loom), does an excellent job of portraying the subject matter earnestly and without sanctimony. There is no judgment leveled on any character or any political power. The symbolism in the fantasy world is neither overwrought nor heavy-handed. He even manages to weave in poignant quotes from Lewis Carroll to Walt Whitman to Emily Dickinson that help this world feel less cold and dark.

Thereís a very puzzly game to be played to get to all the good parts. In a sense, the decision to include a lot of puzzles helped Trinity from becoming just a political statement. The gameís protagonist isnít on some mission of glory; heís just caught in the situation and fumbling through to survive. Unfortunately, there are so many missteps with the puzzles that the gameís poignant moments had to fight for brain space with my endless frustration with the gaming experience.

The first problem, and an expected one in 1986, was that so many puzzles require dying in order to learn what to do. While this can work well in comedy or light-hearted adventures (especially if the deaths are quick), here it just continually disrupts the mood. To be clear, dying is an important and I would say necessary part of Trinity for its core message to come across. But the need for random, non-atomic related deaths (such as running into an angry barrow wight) just isnít there.

I canít even count how many walking dead situations I encountered, including a couple that require restarting the game completely and obtaining items that are not exactly out of the way but also not obviously important either. While again this is expected for an 80s game, it still hurts the spirit of the experience to suggest the reason you arenít able to save the world from atomic destruction is because you didnít pick up a piece of paper in London right before the bomb dropped.

One ridiculous game mechanic that leads to many deaths and walking dead scenarios is the inventory limit. Yes, carrying a heavy axe in real life would prevent me from carrying much else. But the axe is needed often and unpredictably and so deciding when or where not to take it with you is an impossible guessing game. And it all could have been solved with a simple rucksack. There are some types of game where deciding what to bring with you is a fun, logical puzzle. Trinity is the exact opposite of this type of game.

Finally, I encountered a bug that I couldnít find reproduced anywhere on the internet. One of the portals to a past atomic site becomes completely unavailable if you do things in an arbitrarily different order. So yet again I had to restart almost the entire game for no good reason.

All of the said, there are still many fun puzzles! If you have the correct items with you and are in the right place at the right time, they are generally entertaining and not overly difficult. The endgame is easily the best part as Moriarty meticulously recreated the Trinity test site and implemented, for the most part, organic puzzles that help you immerse yourself in the timeline. Again, you still have to have a couple of arbitrarily correct items in your possession. And the time limits in this area are a bit cruel. But all in all it was still satisfying, with an ending that has been well debated but completely satisfied my sensibilities.

Despite all of my frustrations, I rated the game as high as I did because of how well Moriarty handled the subject matter. It inspired me to read a lot about the Trinity project as well as the world history of atomic testing, including an enormous seven-part series by Jimmy Maher over at the Digital Antiquarian. Iím glad to have played Trinity. Iím just not sure I could bear doing it again.

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- TagoMago69, October 4, 2022

- Rovarsson (Belgium), February 14, 2022

- Titania Lowe, January 24, 2022

- Andrew Schultz (Chicago), December 20, 2021

- larryj (Portugal), December 14, 2021

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Thought provoking concept, November 29, 2021

Entertaining and thought provoking, i like the idea and has a new concept to it. kept me entertained from start to finish

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- NorkaBoid (Ohio, USA), November 15, 2021

- Frodelius, September 19, 2021

- heasm66 (Sweden), August 10, 2021

- oscar-78, June 23, 2021

- Karlok (Netherlands), April 14, 2021

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Puzzles with a Purpose, December 12, 2020
by dvs

I finally finished Trinity, a game I started 20 years ago and finally joined forces with a friend (over Zoom) to finish.

The game could be thought of as in three parts: the prologue, the Wonderland puzzles, and the stressful endgame.

The prologue itself is perfect, one of my favorite compact text adventures with emotional moments and whimsy.

The Wonderland middle section is long but also tightly created with its dreamlike setting and classic Infocom humor and puzzles. This is a save-often, unforgiving type of IF but nothing too tricky.

The endgame has a time limit where you have to do things in an efficient order. The feelies (available online by searching for "trinity feelies") become essential here. This was the weakest section of the game for me - there were more red herrings and harder puzzles. We did have to give up and look at the Invisiclues because we hadn't brought the right item(s) from the middle section (without any hints to guide us).

The ending...well I applaud Brian Moriarty's attempt to be moving and artistic but I thought for a while it was simply buggy. In the version we played (using Lectrote) we actually missed the final few paragraphs so it was even more abrupt for us than it should have been. It didn't have the effect on us as it has for many other players over the years.

It was one of my favorite Infocom replays that still feels fresh after so many years. Highly recommended!

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- steamfire, September 22, 2020

- nosferatu, August 25, 2020

- The Defiant, June 17, 2020

- Arrowhead12 (Edmonton, Alberta), June 11, 2020

- Zape, June 3, 2020

- Durafen, October 14, 2019

- jjsonick, August 17, 2019

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