Endless, Nameless Review by Roody Yogurt
May 5th, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

Endless, Nameless by NamelessAdventurer (Adam Cadre)

Official Web Page

This write-up doesn’t aim to be a proper review. The first bit is just some hints for people who have already begun the game but are a bit stuck. The second has some thoughts about the game but doesn’t try to cover it exhaustively. I’d only recommend the second block to someone who has played most- if not all- of the game.

Gentle hints

Interestingly, early on, I determined that some of the hints at the “vacation house” were not relevant, and figuring out the replacement solution was one of my earlier (but most satisfying) accomplishments of the game. On the flipside, though, I was too quick to write off many of the other hints (and I didn’t happen upon the correct path on my own), so I’d recommend to anyone who’s stuck to pay closer attention to the hints than I did.

Overall thoughts

I think this was a very enjoyable game. It has some nicely distracting gameplay, sure, but I really like ideas it suggests. I love how the other player avatars at the vacation house are hipsters- that as time marches on, a game genre’s earnest player archetype is inevitably replaced by ones jaded by age and experience. In the vacation house, they drink White Russians, the drink indelibly associated with The Big Lebowski, which, given its longevity, is as good to blame for the modern hipster as anything else. Of course, at the house, the White Russian drink is a Rocky IV joke, but that works with the analogy, too, as Rocky IV is the kind of flawed but earnest 80s movie that has aged about as well as a BBS door game, so it makes sense that they’d be there, making fun of that, too.

The other suggested theme that I enjoyed was the importance of creativity. The hipster’s worst offense is that it is a passive, ineffectual force. Especially as represented by Lebowski enthusiasts, it is easy to see how creation gets replaced by sheer consumption (and how the in-game virtual world feels somewhat forgotten and in disrepair). Worse yet, the game suggests creative stagnation can lead to one becoming a community’s worst member, a troll. I enjoyed the sense of loss that these ideas produced.

I’m not the most critical of readers, so I feel like I misinterpret almost all games that do clever literary things. I think E,N had a lot of ideas that I just didn’t fully grasp. I think there were some points made about the imperfections of the medium (and in that regard, the pointlessness of it), and that stuff is okay but eh. The defeatist attitude doesn’t sit well with my worldview.

Mainly, I felt the game was better when it showed these things, but at some points, I felt like I was being told the way things are (in terms of players, creators, and trolls) and my gut instinct is be contrary. Adam’s a genius (compared to me, anyhow), but I’ve had this kind of problem with his games in the past. His game, Shrapnel, just out and asks the player, hey, want me to explain everything to you? I’m not sure if I’m the kind of person who’d ever have the will to say “no” and walk away, so of course, I looked at the explanation first time on my first playthrough. While some elements of the full explanation were cool, it still felt kind of disappointing just the same. The chasm between the explanation and the player’s playing experience was just too great.

Of course, E,N doesn’t explain everything the same way, but just the same, without being able to remember particular lines that irked me, I would’ve liked for the curtain to be held back a bit more. Who knows? Maybe it’s just the way that doom and gloom explanations are just so calculated (you: “<something> is so terrible!” game (all-robot-like): “Things are terrible because this is the logical conclusion of <other>.”). I dunno. I’m trying to put a finger on something which I figure that comes down to personal taste, so who knows.

Those thing I liked, though, I liked a lot, and in that regard, I think E,N is a nice love letter to creativity and youthful spirit. I’m sure some of these notions will be dispelled as more explanations make their way into the world, but I’m sure that even at the end of them, E,N will still be a game worth playing.

2 Responses  
  • Doug Egan writes:
    June 2nd, 20125:53 amat

    I enjoyed reading your review. The sorceress tells me I’m about halfway through, and I’ve met the Warden. But I can’t seem to find this infernal “machine” and temper my shield. Or have these aspects of the game been left behind in version 1.02, replaced by some other overlooked puzzle?

    The misleading clues given at the vacation house remind me of the old “Invisiclues” series- a series of clue books published by Infocom in the eighties. The “questions” which appeared in Invisiclues oftentimes pertained to non-existent puzzles, as a means of discouraging players from scanning the clue questions for information about game sections they hadn’t yet encountered.

    Adam Cadre is among my favorite IF authors. He has the rare ability to write both puzzly and literary forms of IF with equal skill.

  • Roody Yogurt writes:
    June 6th, 201212:05 pmat

    The “machine” is not too hard to find; it’s just in the cave to the east of the troll/bridge. Getting the machine to work, on the other hand, is much harder.

    Also, yeah, the vacation house does recall Invisiclues, although in this game, without saying too much about it, properly interpreting the clues is almost a puzzle in itself.

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