Once and Future

by G. Kevin Wilson

Historical, Time Travel, Arthurian
1998

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Baf's Guide


You're a soldier in Vietnam who gets mysteriously tossed into an Arthurian story and transported between a variety of settings and times. The story behind this game is arguably better known than the game itself--the author worked on it for five years, during which it was eagerly awaited in the IF community (and often joked about). It was then released commercially through Cascade Mountain Publishing, a company run by Infocom implementor Mike Berlyn which has since gone under, and now is available as freeware. As a game, it's quite good, though it suffers somewhat from having been begun in 1993--standards of IF design changed a good deal by the time the game was released. Similarly, the tone and style of the writing vary, as you might expect when a game is written over a period of five years. Some terrific puzzles, particularly one involving a mousehole, though many are obstacles for their own sake in a way that's more reminiscent of golden-age IF than present-day games. Lots of NPCs, some quite well developed. A very, very large game, one of the largest ever written, but the various pieces work reasonably well together--there's enough story, and the story is good enough, that the game doesn't feel like a random collection of puzzles. There are also plenty of endings and optional puzzles, affording some replay potential. Not a perfect effort--some of the puzzles require some mind-reading and some syntax-guessing--but still a noteworthy game.

-- Duncan Stevens

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