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About the Story
In this sprawling old-school puzzle game, you play as a resident of the Arboretum, which is a decaying city district cut off from the rest of world, fit only for hippies, zombies, and other disgusting creatures like yourself. Your goal is "to contact an outside force and escape the evil mind-numbing powers of the Arboretum."
A game with many minimally described locations and surreal British hippy grunge. It's like an old Scott Adams adventure, twisted and writ large, but with the power of the TADS engine to make it bearable. Here is a typical room, with its staccato statements and capitalized compass directions:
hallwayA player might be put off by these old school conventions, and by consequence, it can be difficult to decide where to direct one's focus. Especially since are several unused objects and not every locked door is openable. Also, there are hunger and sleep daemons, but they activate every 200 and 400 turns respectively, so they aren't too odious.
You are in a short hallway with tatty wallpaper.
There is a small wicker table here.
The hallway leads South to the living room.
There are stairs here leading up.
There is a doorway to the North.
-- David Welbourn
Arboretum is a very busy game, with plenty of puzzles for you to think about and tackle all at once, so it's fairly non-linear and you can progress quite rapidly to approximately halfway. I found it interesting and entertaining, and although the location descriptions and writing are not outstanding, there is a definite sense of humour lurking throughout this game, despite the rather bleak scenery of the first few locations. Arboretum grabs your attention from the outset with its many and varied puzzles, its frenetic pace, and its huge variety of quaint red herrings.
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