4 Seconds / Jason Reigstad (1999)

The Little Ugly, Evil Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict:
Heil, Sgt. Reigstad! Herr Commandant vants to zee you
The Little Nice, Handsome Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict:
Jason, next time you write a game and all your bugtesters get sick, GET SOME NEW ONES. If you had done that, this would have been a much better game.
My Verdict:
Interesting enough, but the bugs really kill it.

Game Information

Game Type:
Author Info:
Nothing known. (We tried! But could find nothing.)
Download Link:


Now, this is tough. I don't really want to blast this game just because it's buggy as all heck, but I'm not sure whether Mr. Reigstadt will be releasing a post-comp version or not. If he doesn't, then this game is basically unplayable. I don't mean that the game can't be won, for it can. But played and enjoyed? No way. If he does decide to release a post-comp version, then nothing would please me more than to reanalyze his game and give it a new rating. It's really an awful shame, because this game has a very nice, novel storyline, but that storyline gets quickly forgotten when you discover that many objects mentioned in the room descriptions do not have item descs(indeed, a couple don't even really exist), while other objects that are not mentioned in the room descs do exist and are necessary to complete the game. Not to mention that if you "sit in chair" at a certain point in the game it will for all accounts and purposes end your session right then and there. And I haven't even gotten into the strange behavior of the NPCs - how you can't even look at them half the time, and can only interact with them in certain situations and rooms! And believe me, there's more! It's truly frightening to see what a game looks like when it hasn't been playtested at all. Yes, the game is short enough that the experienced player can put two and two together and find what he needs to do to win(especially without time limits. Yeesh, if this game had time limits then...eck, I don't want to speculate), but interactive fiction is just not supposed to be this frustrating. I suspect any newbies starting off with this game would about have a heart attack. Basically, a lot of design flaws/bugs need badly to be worked out for this to pass off as an acceptable work of IF. However...

The story is very interesting, though foggy in detail. You and a team of other folks are investigating the strange happenings at a scientific research laboratory. In order to find answers, you are required to explore the mind of one of the unconscious, barely alive survivors. You are sent hurdling into the man's memories, and it's quite the experience. Supposedly you are to sit back and sort of watch the man's memories play out without interfering, but the player actually is required to do a great deal while inside Gray's brain. In short, there are items to be collected and puzzles to be solved. The plot takes a couple of unexpected turns before ending brilliantly with a suspenseful climax sure to get the blood a'pumping. The story is basically well done, though lacking a bit in specific details. The gameplay is pretty limited due to the crappy parser and general overall bugginess of the game, so this unfortunately makes the puzzles and item gathering a basically unpleasant experience.

We'll talk later when there's a revised version available.

Simple Rating
4 / 10

Complicated Rating
24.5 / 50

8 / 10

5 / 10

This could be worked on as well. The ending is excellent, but several other vital sections are under-described, leaving the player in a bit of a haze wondering just what is going on.

3 / 10

Puzzle Quality
5 / 10

Parser Responsiveness
3 / 10

Not very good for a TADS game. Mike Roberts must be rolling in his grave right about now. Wait a minute, Mike Roberts isn't dead!)

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