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About the Story
They said you would sleep for half a millennium - not an unreasonable length of time, considering you'd be in limited cryogenic suspension. Your body would rest at the planet's nerve center, an underground complex 20 miles beneath the surface. Your brain, they told you, would be wired to a network of computers; your mind would continue to operate at a minimal level, overseeing maintenance of surface-side equilibrium. And you would not awake, so they promised, until your 500 years had elapsed - barring, of course, the most dire emergency.
It might be best not to think of Suspended as a work of Interactive Fiction at all. It is a pseudo-simulation game, written before software technology was developed enough to develop real simulation games. It is a game for frustrated would-be air traffic controllers who enjoy coordinating multiple activities from a central location, much more than it is a work of fiction. It is a game for people who like to play WITH games, not merely play them.
-- Graeme Cree
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This game has a reputation as one of Infocom's most difficult, but I got on with it rather well. I think the premise scares people off, along with the fact that even experienced players need to absorb a lot of information from the manual before they can really start. But the game is straightforward and logical once you get past the initial hurdle, as long as you're attentive and unafraid of trial runs. For the record, I'm only talking about solving the puzzles and completing the game on the default difficulty--I'm sure Advanced mode and achieving the highest optimization rank is much harder (I made a few half-hearted optimization attempts, got a middling score, and called it a day).
With the premise of six robots that all have different senses, I was expecting to be sifting through cryptic output half the time, similar to Bad Machine, but it's not like that. Yeah, sometimes the robots will see things in different ways (or not see things at all), but their descriptions are quite human-friendly. In fact, sometimes it feels like their limited senses are more of an excuse to have sparse room descriptions. There really aren't that many objects in the facility for you to poke, pick up, or otherwise interact with. You won't be juggling dozens of inventory items in this game, another reason why the problem-solving stays manageable.
I have heard Suspended described as A Mind Forever Voyaging's endgame turned into a puzzle game proper, but the game I would say it is most similar to (though it predates both) is Varicella. Play sessions typically end badly for you within a couple hundred turns, but this is expected, as your initial task is to gather information using all the tools at your disposal. Once you get a sense of when, where, and why things are happening, then you can concern yourself with the positioning and timing required to bring the plan together. And of course somewhere along the way you have to figure out how to get past the trickier obstacles. In each case, it's a satisfying nut to crack.
I suppose I can't be too hard on an old Infocom game for this, but I should mention that Suspended does have some picky moments about which nouns and verbs you need to use. I never got stuck on them (whether by luck or persistence), but don't expect gentle nudging toward the right idea, or any feedback at all in some cases. Referring back to the manual can help.
Suspended is a very unusual Infocom game. You take control of six robots, each with their strengths and issues (only one can see, but it's broken; another can feel things, but it talks in riddles; one is mainly useful if you're closer to dying, etc.)
The idea is that each one can see its environment in different ways. The first few playthroughs might just consist of exploring each room in the (provided) map, and understanding what needs to happen. Then later playthroughs would consist of trying over and over again to survive, and then trying to do it quickly.
I just played around for 15 minutes, and then used the walkthrough. I'd like to revisit this in the future. The robots have clever commentary.
It's mentioned in Planetfall that multipurpose robots like Floyd eliminated the need for these specialized robots.
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This is version 10 of this page, edited by Zape on 17 April 2021 at 4:21am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item