Tethered

by Linus Åkesson profile

2018

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Number of Reviews: 5
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1-5 of 5


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Unnerving, poignant, and a good intro to IF, December 26, 2021
by Wynter (London, UK)

I first played Tethered two years ago, and it must have been one of the first parser games that I played, so it took me a few days to get my head around; as a relatively short game, it was an excellent introduction to the genre.

In the introduction to this "interactive role play", as the title page has it, you play Charles, a mountaineer, but the main part of the game is shown from the perspective of Judith, his unfortunate partner who is left alone in the snow. The early puzzles see her exploring a cave system and deal brilliantly with the logistics of navigating around it. The descriptions of these caves are atmospheric and help prepare for the unexpected shift in tone that slowly develops as the story continues.

I was puzzled, but quickly came to realise what was beginning to happen; but as I reached the very final stages of the story I became confused again - what was really going on? I never guessed until I read the deeply poignant ending, with its ironic twist on the title. Tethered has all the clever plotting of a good short story, but it is one in which you actually have to act out all the things that Judith would do while sheltering in the caves, even ones which the reader knows would be a bad idea - and there's a very good reason for that. For this alone, I would hold it up as a great example of how parser games can be an excellent medium for storytelling and even have features that conventional storytelling does not.


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Short with a strong story, June 22, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Dialog

Finally, I got around playing Tethered on a real Commodore 64. However, this review isn't really about playing the game on a retro-machine but the fact that I enjoyed playing the game again almost two years later and decided to make a review. I enjoyed the original z-machine version during IFcomp 2018. The only comment I have about the C64 version is that it was fast enough to be just as enjoyable.

I did remember several of the puzzles so it did not take me much time to complete it the second time around. I don't want to give away any details about the game as that would spoil the game. The story is strong and well told and as far as I remember from my first playthrough, all the puzzles are fair. I highly recommend this game.


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A slightly unique masterpiece, May 18, 2019

Wow! Tethered was good on so many levels. It's short, but exactly as long as it needs to be. I spent roughly an hour with it and was left both impressed and emotionally affected. Every obstacle felt like a necessary part of the story, while the player's progression was usually slightly different than expected, resulting in an experience both familiar and unique.

There are several things for the player to figure out. In most cases, I would probably refer to them as puzzles. Here, it felt like the wrong term; they're so intertwined with the story (a story that is deep and serious but never in a way that feels didactic or overly dramatic) that I hardly noticed them. It's not often (with any medium) that my experience is so immersive.

Although I expect that the author could have made a more or less equally good story in any IF language, the several little things that were unique in Tethered made me think of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of linguistic relativity. While it in general would be silly to apply such thoughts to most programming languages (their differences being so well-defined), this is obviously not the case for IF authoring languages. Some things are more difficult in Inform 7 and therefore rarely done, something that fundamentally affects the story. A new language, such as the author's Dialog, represents an opportunity to do new things in old ways and old things in new, something Åkesson succeeded with rather perfectly.


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A smooth puzzle game with compelling backstory built with new language, April 21, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This is the author's showpiece for a new language, Dialogue, that compiles to the Z-machine format.

Showpieces for new languages are a varied lot. Curses!, the showpiece for Inform, is one of the best games I've ever played: huge, puzzly, with deep connections to literature, religion, mythology and history. Ditch Day Drifter is sparser and smaller, but still pretty fun. Bronze and Floatpoint, showpieces for Inform 7, are both intensely detailed games.

This game takes a different tack. Instead of a massive adventure, it's a compact puzzle game in the snow. You play as a couple out climbing a snowy mountain, and must solve puzzles involving classic adventuring situations/items like darkness, ropes, and large pushable items.

I found the story in this compelling, as well as the puzzles. One of my favorite IFComp 2018 games.


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Solid drama that shows off a new IF language, November 26, 2018

Tethered starts with an adrenaline-pumping premise: You, Charles, are climbing a snowy mountain. You are roped to your partner Judith, when she slips and falls into a crevasse. What do you do? Well, there's really only one thing you can do. Then the game proper truly starts.

Most of Tethered takes place in a cave on a mountainside. This is a classic IF setting and so can often feel stale, but the premise of Tethered makes it come across as natural and fresh - more of a nod to IF's roots in Colossal Cave than something derivative.

Gameplay-wise, there are a couple of clever puzzles involving a rope that can be stretched between multiple rooms. One of these puzzles has an alternate solution that I found by looking at the walkthrough after I finished the game; this alternate solution may remind some players of a prominent puzzle in a prominent game from last year's IFComp. Also, I love the game's solution to the problem of navigating a cave in the dark: It's completely intuitive yet fairly original from an IF standpoint.

Like several other games from this year's IFComp, as you play Tethered further you realize that there is more going on here than appears at first. The ending is poignant and moving - and it adds a powerful twist on the game's name: "Tethered."

Make sure you check out the game's response to XYZZY.

Finally, a word about the language: Tethered is the first game in the author's new IF-writing language Dialog. It looks impressive to me so far. In particular, the rope-between-multiple-rooms feature is apparently a difficult one to implement in most traditional parser languages. The fact that it works smoothly in Tethered indicates something about the complexity of Dialog.

Overall, I found Tethered to be yet another of the many strong dramas in this year's IFComp.



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