by Brian Moriarty

Fantasy, Time Travel

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Number of Reviews: 8
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1-8 of 8

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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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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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
How Lewis Carrol learned to love the bomb, February 3, 2016

Trinity surprised me by being a fantasy game about nuclear weapons. I expected the game to have a sci-if feel like Jigsaw or Babel, but this game was very similar to the feel of Moriarty's other Infocom game, Wishbringer. In both games, you travel from an opening, normal world to a parallel world, where helpful animals, witches, cemeteries and grim birds await.

I loved exploring the main area of Trinity, and accessing several of the mini-areas. Brian is stunningly creative; I didn't realize until recently that he also wrote Loom, one of my favorite graphical games of all time. The sheer ingenuity of it all is wonderful.

I began running out of steam forward after visiting four of the sub areas. I went to a walkthrough, and discovered that I had forgotten to revisit some area with new equipment, and hadn't searched some scenery items that I didn't know we're searchable. This opened up two more mini areas, which I explored a little bit more before using a walkthrough the rest of the game.

The final area was a beast, although everything is fairly well hinted at. Or not... In any case, I loved this game. I can't help but enjoy this author's worldview.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
A surreal journey, July 17, 2015
by Form 27b-6 (Southern California)

It's been a while since I played an Infocom for the last time but the release of the Lost Treasures of Infocom for the iPad was the opportunity to dive back into these worlds that shaped my memories of old gamer.
I just completed Trinity and it compelled me to register to the IF database just to write this review. Rarely have I felt so immersed in a game, and so touched by its surreal atmosphere. In that regard, Trinity is a true testament to the power of Interactive Fiction in the hands of talented writers.

Trinity doesn't have a very defined plot. It's more a loose connection of metaphoric experiences, with the historical breakthroughs that led to the atomic bomb at its center. You travel through time and places in an effort to change the course of history, trying to understand the meaning of the events in order to alter their outcome. There's a strong and somewhat foreboding sense of ineluctability, with puzzles often forcing you to race against the clock.

The puzzles are perfectly imbedded into the surreal ambience of the game. It's like trying to decipher someone's dreams, and to make sense of the logic that governs them.
It's to me one of the great qualities of this game. Even though strange and sometimes downright twisted, the world of Trinity always feel coherent, giving you a fair chance of solving its many mysteries.

Still, the game is tough, with multiple opportunities to render it unsolvable, and a pretty complex timed endgame. I made a point to beat the game without help, but it took me long hours, and a couple of times I was close to throwing the towel. But that's what makes a great IF game in my opinion; Trinity strikes a perfect balance, which makes it very rewarding to play. I will not spoil the ending of course but I want to note that it may feel a little unfulfilling for some players, even though I personally think it's beautiful and suits the game perfectly.

I had a great time with Trinity. I felt a stranger in a strange world, discovered many wonders, and even made some friends, like my buddy the roadrunner.

A great achievement by Brian Moriarty.

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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Serious Game, December 18, 2009

This is a great game. A lot of the later infocom games devolved into jokey, tongue in cheek little things. But Trinity was like a good, serious book with a story that grabbed on to you and made you care. You, the random guy who in the final seconds before a nuclear Armageddon find a door into another dimension - and there you race against time to change reverse history and stop the destruction of the world.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
If you've never played this Classic, hunt it down, March 24, 2008
by Grunion Guy (Portland)

This is one of the very few Infocom text adventures I solved by myself and without hints way back in the Apple IIe days. That isn't to say the game isn't challenging -- it is -- but that the story is so well written that it kept me coming back and continually thinking about how to get past the next problem. The game would sit for days when I finally thought I'd reached an insurmountable obstacle yet my mind kept returning to the problem and mulling over the possibilities. I'd continually find myself back in this fascinating world and happily getting past some of the most satisfying puzzles in Interactive Fiction. The ending, more so than any other Infocom game I'd played, left me absolutely satisfied and actually proud of the protagonist and his actions.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
A Truly Original Work, December 7, 2007
by Matt Kimmel (Cambridge, MA)

This was one of the most abstract and speculative works published by Infocom--and, in my opinion, one of the most difficult to solve as well. It managed to combine an Alice-in-Wonderland feel with a story about the invention of the Atomic Bomb, with some time, space, and interdimensional travel thrown in to boot. It also managed, as few games at the time did, to make some social commentary in the process. Overall, a unique and challenging game, and one that will make you think--not just about the puzzles, but about life and the consequences of our actions.

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