Delusions

by C. E. Forman

Science Fiction
1996

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
"Morrodox" joins "Skeletor" and "Mumm-Ra" in best-villain-names top three., December 14, 2020
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: SF

Delusions was one of the very first IF-games I played when I first discovered the medium. The puzzles were way over my head back then, but I found the setting and the slowly unfolding plot fascinating. Except exploring rooms and examining objects, I used a walkthrough for the entire game, knowing I would once try again.

And now I have come back to it. Where before I would have given Delusions five stars for its story alone, now I have more experience with IF and I might offer a more nuanced opinion. I will have to be quite vague in this review to not spoil the overall story.

The story remains fantastic. It is a reworking of a tried-and-true science fiction trope, very well told and paced. Each of the three parts of the game sees the plot of self-discovery open up some more to its inevitable conclusion. Story-wise, there are many similarities to Babel. The way the player discovers the story through puzzles is different however.

The puzzles are very reminiscent of some mini-games in Gateway. You have to build a good understanding of your surroundings and the available objects to figure out a sequence of actions that brings about the desired effect. This will undoubtedly take some experimenting, failing and retrying. You can of course rely on saved games for this, but the game always brings you back to a fixed starting point to begin anew. (In the middle game at least. The endgame is not so friendly.) It is vital to play through the introductory puzzle attentively, because it is an easier version of the puzzle in the middlegame.

For the map-drawers and world-explorers there is not so much here. However, the setting is exquisitely suited to the plot, it adds to the trapped feeling and the big puzzle is designed to fit snugly in these few rooms.

Unfortunately, being more experienced I could also recognize more flaws. The unfolding of the plot relies on examining the same objects multiple times over the course of the game, to see how they change, or, more accurately, how your perception of them changes. Sometimes an object gives a default "not interesting"-response while you should still examine it later. One crucial action demands a non-intuitive (to me) command, making it a very frustrating guess-the-verb problem: (Spoiler - click to show)TAKE object WITH TONGS does not work, you have to PUT object IN TONGS. I also found a game-breaking bug: (Spoiler - click to show)do not SET WATCH TO [time]. It breaks of the playing session immediately. Just SET WATCH wil do nicely.

So, I am not so awestruck as the first time I played through Delusions, but it is still a very clever and well-written game. Highly recommended.