The Little Ugly Evil Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: Awww man, Mrs. Robner is hot! That nitwit McNabb did it, I tell you. Mrs. Robner's all mine!
The Little Handsome Good Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: Au contraire, my little bluejay. Mrs. Robner is a cruel, deceitful, and murderous witch in an angel's body. She's the one! I don't have enough evidence to prove it yet, but I will. I do like that Miss Dunbar, however.
My Verdict: I think those guys up there need their heads examined. They're not even giving their verdicts! They're just talking about the characters in the game! Want my verdict? This game rocks like Elvis Presley in his prime.
Simply put, Infocom text adventures are an example of the highest form of art that exists in this world of ours. The paintings of Albrecht Durer, the minuettes of Edvard Grieg, the novels of Dostoyevsky, the poetry of Pushkin, the short stories of Faulkner and Kafka...and Zork? Why, yes! Absolutely yes! With this in mind, it becomes awful difficult for a reviewer to satisfactorily review something so immense, so mind-boggingly wonderful as a great Infocom game. Many a reviewer has tried and failed. "Tried and failed? No, child, they tried and died." That's a Dune reference, by the way. If you caught it, pat yourself on the back. It's absolutely necessary for this site to cover as many Infocom games as it possibly can because those games are the best that have thus far been invented in the genre of interactive fiction. If we can introduce one new soul or three to the joy and wonder of Infocom, then this has all been worth something. Granted, this game was written in 1982, and Infocom as a company doesn't really exist anymore. But the game has not become dated at all. It's still as classic, as vital as it ever was. It should still be played - played to the end of time, and possibly beyond even that. Like many other current Infocom devotees, I came to most of these games years after the fact, but this did not prevent me from loving them all the more. This is a game everyone should play. I mean it!
I enjoy a lot of the interactive fiction that's currently being produced, but when I compare even the best of the award-winners to this game, for example, they seem to fall short. A major mistake that a few IF writers who have received a great deal of acclaim over the past few years have made is that they've begun to emphasize their clever writing styles and skillful prose ABOVE the quality of their plots. This is a mistake that Infocom writers rarely, if ever, made. Deadline is an excellent example of this. You play a detective who is sent to investigate a "suicide"(that was probably a murder). You are to investigate the house and the grounds belonging to the late Mr. Robner, searching for clues, interrogating witnesses, analyzing data, etc, but you only have one day to come up with any answers. As the plot unfolds, the game becomes all the more engrossing. There is much to do in so little time. The house and grounds are fairly expansive, and sometimes clues can be found in the least likely of places. There are many items that also must be found, examined, fingerprinted, and analyzed - some of them are "dummies", but others are vitally important to the story. And there are the various members of the Robner family plus their help who must be asked questions, shown items, accused, and just maybe arrested. The characters are particularly well created. Their responses are very natural and understandable - they do not spout information like leaky faucets. They also do not remain static, tied to a single room or area. Rather, they're constantly wandering about, at certain times doing special tasks the detective would be well served to be aware of.
The plot, as you see, is excellent, but I don't want to imply that the writing style is not, for it too is excellent. Marc Blank stays pretty much to-the-point in writing room and item descriptions, but he's very thorough(You won't be spending hours playing this game trying to examine things that cannot be examined.) He doesn't hesitate to include a bit of light-hearted humor every now and then(witness the humorous comings-and-goings of Sgt. Duffy. "The ladder analyzing department closes at 12 o'clock." Haha!) I actually wish more IF authors followed Marc's example - I've played way too many games which have had excessive, boring, needless descriptions which in no way made up for the poor gameplay and uninspired plot. The parser is nearly perfect, though I wish it would recognize the word "of." (look at bottle OF loblo will not work, but look at loblo bottle will...) As for playing the game, well, it's no cakewalk. It's actually quite challenging to amass enough evidence to make an arrest...and those damn red herrings are always around to put you down the wrong trail. This is a seriously great game which should keep you busy for hours at a time, and hopefully make you acknowledge its spectacular genius. Long live Infocom!
Simple Rating: 10/10
Puzzle Difficulty: 9/10
Parser Responsiveness: 9/10
Complicated Rating: 47/50
Tubby Tubbs sprach the following on September 18th, 1999:
the transvestite did it! ha!
Back to my other reviews