(none) Quintin Stone - Interactive Fiction Review
Interactive Fiction
Role-playing Games


Author: Dave Bernazzani
Language: z-code
Score: 6

Your ship has crashed upon a remote planet and now it's up to you to get yourself resuced. Oh, and you also have amnesia. Yes, they're two of the most cliched plot points used in IF, but they wouldn't be so overused if they weren't so loved, right?

The text is generally fair, with a few trouble spots. The main paragraph of the room description inside the spacecraft weighs in at 15 lines on an 80 character-width display, followed by a separate 1 line paragraph for the supply closet. This is far, far too long for almost any room, especially one with such limited interactivity as this. Compared to how much there is too see, there's surprisingly little to do in this room. It should be broken out into at least two separate rooms to avoid overwhelming the player with text. Beyond this room, my complaints on prose mainly concern inconsistent capitalization (a room named "spacecraft Engine" and the game text "The yak bucks and does not allow you to take the Splinter out"). There were also a considerable number of scenery objects outside of the ship (and even a few portable objects) that get by on Inform's default description.

Identity's puzzles range from fairly basic (the shovel, the guard) to clever (the yak, the radio). The last one, particularly, requires some close attention to details and a spirit of experimentation. Which is why I had to use the hints.

The story is certainly the weakest aspect of this game. The PC's amnesia, besides being a much overused plot device, inevitably contributes nothing at all to the experience. Identity's only goal, after all, is to escape this pleasantly backwater planet, not to regain your lost memory (in fact, even in the end the game is vague on whether or not all of your amnesia is dispelled). So why then is title drawn from this minor, unimportant facet of the plot? My advice to the author is to either drop it entirely or work on integrating it more fully into the story and the puzzles.

Instead of a score, Identity implements a "percentage complete" status, which is a clever and interesting concept that is unfortunately somewhat wasted on such a short game. (Are there other games that use a percentage-type scoring system? I'm not immediately aware of any.) As far as technical issues go, there were a few that jumped out at me. The specimen jar description shows an empty space for its contents. While not a bug, the interface system for the "COMPUCOM" and the radio felt unnatural to me. Am I giving verbal orders to a radio and my watch?

This is my first of the three "just awoke from cryo-sleep" games in this comp. Even after all this time I'm a sucker for a sci-fi-crash-landing-survival game in the vein of Planetfall or inevitable. But this game wasn't quite what I expected based on its intro. While there is some interaction with machines at the beginning and end, there's no encounters with advanced alien technology. Okay, so my initial impressions were wrong. Still, the game completely lacks any sense of urgency. There's no sense of danger and no feeling of deadline. In fact, this planet is fairly pleasant, if a little backwards. The yaks are friendly and the natives (apparently human?) are social and quite helpful. Overall, the puzzles are good, but the game as a whole doesn't quite hang together.

Final score: 6

High point:
Finding myself in the cryotube brought back memories of one of my really old unfinished WIPs.

Low point:
Dying because I'd left the hatch in the pod open. You'd think in the future an escape pod would have a proper failsafe mechanism. At least the game had an auto-save feature.
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