The Life of a Lone Electron

by Gareth Pitchford profile and Scott Denyer


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Puzzly comedy in the early 90s UK hobby style (PAW / DAAD), May 19, 2023
by Denk
Related reviews: DAAD, PAW, zx spectrum

I was intrigued by the title of this game in the 90s Adventure Probe but couldn't play it because I did not have a ZX Spectrum. Now, many years later, a C64 version is available (made with DAAD) so I finally get to play this one.

In this comedy text adventure you control the electron Edmond as he has crashed his orbital in the city of Electronz. The game is a puzzle fest seen from the perspective of electrons, where protons and neutrons are buildings and a graviton is a dog breed etc. So a lot of funny references to beginner particle physics. I am certainly a beginner in that field. Some of the puzzles are based on light physics or word-play but don't expect the physics to be close to the real world. For instance, Edmond is called an electron and starts out having positive charge, which makes him a positron and therefore antimatter but he explodes if he touches antimatter, not the other way around. But such details are not important as this is a comedy and should not be taken too seriously.

Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: 6/10)
I played the DAAD version, not sure how close it was to the PAW version. Some untraditional choices but the author makes up for it by guiding the player in several situations. For instance, there were sort of "containers" in the game but you couldn't "PUT OBJECT IN OBJECT". Instead you might EMPTY OBJECT IN OBJECT or FILL OBJECT WITH SOMETHING, stuff like that. But the author tells the player upfront about the commands CHARGE and EMPTY and the fact that SEARCH and EXAMINE are not the same. Some guess-the-verb situations along the way, which probably is unavoidable for such a "big" game, considering it is an 8-bit single-load game.

Atmosphere (Rating: 7/10)
Funny writing which fits the game theme.

Cruelty (Rating: Tough)
I noticed a few places where the game can become unwinnable but it will in most cases be obvious that what you did was irreversible.

Puzzles (Rating: 8/10)
The game is crammed with puzzles, and there were several good, fun puzzles. A few of them involved word-play but they were solvable to me except for on one, despite that English is not my mother tongue. As with most old text adventures, finding the objects are part of the game so remember to search and examine everything.

Overall (Rating: 8/10)
Everything considered, this is a good old-fashioned puzzle fest with good puzzles and some funny writing.

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Strident, May 19, 2023 - Reply
I'm always in awe of anyone who can master another language enough to even attempt any heavily pun-filled adventure. I guess this is probably my least favourite game out of anything I produced back in the day... too heavily influenced by long hours spent sitting in A-Level Chemistry and Physics classes... The DAAD version does smooth some of the rougher edges though, adding various QoL tweaks... At the very least I had to put in enough clues to let me know how to finish it, thirty-years later.
Denk, May 20, 2023 - Reply
Actually, if a game is advertised as a "wordplay" game I don't even try them as they are too hard for me. In this case, I only had trouble with one "pun puzzle" and I often need a little help from hints or walkthroughs anyway so here it wasn't a problem.
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