Lunatix - The Insanity Circle

by Mike Snyder profile

Surreal / Slice of Life

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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

[T]he story and puzzles aren't great, but they aren't terrible either. Unfortunately, the combination of fair-to-middling plot with really-irritating parser makes the game less fun to play than it should be. See, (he said, mounting his soapbox) an IF game is a fusion of parser and story. The beauty of the modern IF languages is that they have freed designers from most of the hassle of worrying about the parser, allowing them to focus the bulk of their creative energy on the story. When a game eschews these time-tested solutions, it doesn't just double its work, but increases it exponentially. Lunatix, strong as it is, isn't quite up to the task.

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- Lucifalle, April 25, 2017

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An incredible, forgotten game. Explore an asylum as the tripped-out director., November 15, 2015
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

This is a hidden gem. This game was nominated for 4 xyzzy awards, including Best Game. The author also wrote two other Best Game nominees, Distress and Tales of the Travelling Swordsman.

This game is not played often because it is a homebrew parser game, written in QBasic, only playable in a DOS emulator. It was not hard for me at all to get this, though, as described below.

(The following discussion describes how to play the game. It is under spoilers to save space):(Spoiler - click to show)

Lunatix can only be played on a DOS emulator, as far as I can tell. Several people recommended I use DOSbox, which is a well-known, easy to use emulator. The game played great! I followed instructions by Juhana

type the following commands once DOSbox is started:
"mount c path/to/" (where path/to/ is the directory on your computer where you unzipped the game. For instance, I had it in a folder called temporary, so I typed "mount c C:\temporary")

"c:" (this changes the current folder to the one you defined as c: earlier)

"lunatix" (this runs the game. I recommend doing "lunatix /t /m" to play in pure text mode without it locking your mouse. The game has great graphics, but I'm used to just text. I loved the picture of the squid, though)

The game is about exploring a large asylum as the director, one who has lost control of the asylum to the insane, who force you to take a drug trip.

The game is pretty humorous, like a less-profane version of Blue Chairs with slightly more reality. The building is like the hospital in One Eye Open without any gore.

The puzzles include a mix of searching (the hidden locations follow patterns, so once you get used to hit, you can find everything), and passwords/codes, which also aren't too hard. It's definitely a 90's game, with some puzzles just for the sake of puzzles. I really enjoy games from this era.

The setting is great; the inmates have their own language, money, economy, etc.

The parser is not as bad as I was led to believe; however, I had a walkthrough, so I knew when to guess the verb and when not to. I would rate it above Infocom and below a customized set of Inform responses.

The game is mid-length.

- mrsambarlow, April 5, 2008

Baf's Guide

You're a doctor in charge of an insane asylum, but the inmates have rebelled, and you're trying to get out. Inoffensive, on the whole; the main drawback is that the parser is built from scratch, and it isn't up to the standard set by the Inform or TADS parsers, though it's certainly a lot better than many home-brewed parsers. Also features graphics--few of them particularly stunning, but, again, quite good for a home-brew job. On the other hand, in at least a few situations, the graphics are potentially misleading, so don't rely on them too much. The puzzles aren't especially creative, but they're not bad either, and the writing is mostly competent. A better-than-average example of a programmed-from-scratch game.

-- Duncan Stevens

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