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Short, but hits the sweet spot!, April 9, 2010
IF author Sean Barrett's brief homage to Douglas Adams on the occasion of his death (one of several produced as part of the DNA Tribute Speed IF) is an excellent example of what short-form interactive fiction can accomplish.
Using just three locations, a handful of objects, and two non-interactive NPCs, Mr. Barrett creates a brief but engrossing experience combining elements of Adams' Hitchhiker and Dirk Gently universes. Fans of Adams' work (such as myself) will appreciate the attempt to render Dirk Gently's unique worldview faithfully, while those unfamiliar with the underlying novels will probably still find themselves drawn into the puzzle that Barrett presents.
While the piece has a cliffhanger ending (and is unlikely to be continued due to intellectual property laws), it provides a satisfying and well-balanced dose of exploration, problem-solving, and humor. The puzzle is just the right level of complexity for an introductory sequence, requiring the player to begin coming to grips with the uniqueness of the game universe but not requiring mind-reading.(Spoiler - click to show) The manner in which the obvious solution doesn't quite cut it, and the humorous game feedback it generates, is perfect for easing the player into greater effort of puzzle-solving without presenting the frustration of a dead-end brick wall.
Though I doubt The Sofa at the End of the Universe would live up to Mr. Adams' preferred level of diabolical complexity in interactive fiction, it is a fitting tribute to the most highly-regarded "crossover" IF author in the field's history. Adams fan or not, I recommend this piece.