Number of Reviews: 5
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A Flawed Gem, August 24, 2008
This is an incredible game for its day, despite being flawed by several issues, both major and minor.
It can be somewhat linear at times, and the parser lacks many of the luxuries we have come to expect, but perhaps the worst of its flaws is its unpredictability. It undoubtedly merits a "cruel" on the zarfian scale, with several places where death can occur for no apparent reason, and an unclued timing puzzle which can leave the game in an unwinnable state; all of this in the game's intro section!
Look past its flaws, however, and the game has much to recommend it. The writing has all of Disch's trademark cynical humour, and the story is highly compelling (once one forgives it the use of the titular trope, which one surely must in a game over twenty years old). It is also quite magnificent in its scope, attempting to simulate a large part of New York in text (all the more remarkable when one learns that Disch had to cut out about half of the text he wrote for the game, to make it fit onto common computing hardware of the time). Also of note are the game's simulationist tendencies, with the main character's need for money, food and sleep making up a large portion of the gameplay. This is an aspect of the game players will either love or hate, but here it is done rather well.
In all, a much overlooked game, without which no history of interactive fiction would be complete.