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

Who Created That Monster?

Author: N. B. Horvath
Language: TADS2
Score: 5

A failed work of political satire that builds up to a climax it cannot possibly provide and then completely short-circuits itself with the conclusion.

Upon starting the game, you are immediately engulfed by a futuristic Iraqi setting that's an uneven mix of shallow right-wing ideals and the predictions of left-wing doomsayers. So while Iraq is free, almost 7,000 coalition soldiers supposedly died in the process. Areas and roads are named after Bush and officials from his administration, but they are filled with the surveillance cameras of an apparent police state. And though terrorists still roam the streets, they are no more three-dimensional than Advent's roaming dwarf and disappear in a puff of smoke when killed. And amidst this strangeness is the PC, a gun-toting journalist, trying to figure out "which Western nation helped bring Saddam Hussein to power in the 20th century." Well, it's common knowledge that the U.S. helped support Iraq during its war with Iran in the 1980's, though it was only one among many nations to do so. So it was with this in mind that I played the game. Was all of this lead up just to tell me something I already knew? Would the game distort history to satisfy some personal cause? In the end, neither of these happened. Instead, a completely unrelated country was chosen (randomly selected each time you play, according to the author) as the scapegoat. So in the end, I think this piece of satire fails mainly because it lacks cohesion of message. Which is a shame because even though I likely don't entirely share the author's view on the Iraq war, he has created a game with a few pretty clever bits in it.

On first glance, the embassy basements appear to be a bugged. As it turns out, it's not. Is this a message I just can't quite grok or simply a bizarre design decision for a particular puzzle? There was a slight slip in the response to using the ASK verb: "If you want to talk to yourself, use TALK TO (character) or just T (character)." I can talk to myself just fine on my own, thanks!

Looming over me throughout the game was the shadow of how it would end. And the "Iraq History" bubbles that popped regularly during the beginning of the game contributed little to the game itself. Still, I found the conspiracy and investigation aspect of it to be fairly well done, if a bit odd (the dancing ambassador). It's a shame the rest of the game didn't work so well.

Final score: 5

High point:
There wasn't really one.

Low point:
The ending was just so cheesy and I don't think it had the desired effect.
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