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About the StoryThey 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.
Then, and only then, you would be awakened to save your planet by strategically manipulating six robots, each of whom perceives the world differently. But such a catastrophe, you have been assured, could not possibly occur.
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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Just as well since I doubt I would have gotten into the actual game that much as a younger child.
Now entire concept itself of being a meat popsicle that acts as a sort of integrated brain for a greater computer system that runs vital aspects of a planet is pretty intriguing. Add in the whole fact that the system is severely damaged due to disasters and you have to fix it before more people die is also a good plot motivator. In fact it reminds me a bit of another game called Seedship except more complex in terms of the challenges you have to accomplish to make sure more people don’t die.
Which brings me to the actual gameplay, which is, well another review said it best that it’s more like a simulation than anything else. Controlling various damaged robots to fix various things before they send someone from above to shut you down believing you’ve gone mad and are the one trying to destroy the world rather than save it.
I think that’s one of the plot holes of the game, of why if they could send in techs, why don’t they just do that to fix things themselves. I know there’s some stuff in the feelies that implies the government is just very inefficient to think that far ahead, but I think it could have been handled a bit better.
For example I could see some of the puzzles including trying to help the actual human techs that get down there to reach places that even you wouldn’t normally be able to (Or even fix the multi-purpose bot!) and if you did something wrong, the human techs die during the ongoing disasters eventually all leading up to all life on the surface being wiped out or destroyed to such a degree that nobody is coming down to do anything for a very long time leaving you to linger in cryo until the systems completely fail resulting in your death.
In any case, wasn’t exactly my thing, but like I said it was a good idea. Endings on how efficiently you saved lives I suppose adds replay value for some into more technical games like this.
However, I enjoyed the addition of “impossible mode” where the game just has the planet’s sun explode killing everyone anyway. (I mean impossible doesn’t mean “very hard” it means can’t be done!)
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.
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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