Vain Empires

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Number of Reviews: 4
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Challenging game with demonic and delightful protagonist, December 11, 2020
by DoctorFury (Ohio)

I think of Ian Tregellis' Something More Than Night mixed with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as the premise for this adventure: a Cold-War-Twixt-Heaven-and-Hell story of good versus, well, Evil. The prose is excellent, well-written, and engaging throughout. The parser is a little less than perfectly trained and tends not to recognize the descriptive elements in each room, but that also helps to guide the player to spend time with the mechanic and story. It's very unique--you place intent within the small host of NPCs, and later, you can adverb your way to refinement of these original motivations. The most fun for me was the various descriptions of activities, even unsuccessful at solving the related puzzle, with different intents. I truly enjoyed the protagonist's voice and manner, as well as his (their?) intermittent dismissive commentary on the human world.

It's a LONG game, forgiving but at times densely frustrating (an inventory display listing the growing number of intents would have been much more helpful than a map, even as the map is pleasant and clever), and the HINTS section is not quite as thorough or as rapid to update in each new scenario as you might like.

I gave it four stars because some intents/adverbs received the lion's share of play, and some were almost immediately useless. The last section, or Summit, was a good idea with a flawed execution, especially (Spoiler - click to show) relentlessly typing the GIVE X AND Y TO A to outrun the random undoing activity of the main antagonist and (Spoiler - click to show)No one, in the history of the modern world, has ever FOLDed a teleprompter/receiver wireless. Not one time..

I would, and will, gladly play again, trying different combos. I'm excited to try all of your other work, separate and together!