Bad Cop's Verdict: I can't believe that someone already did a game called "doppelganger" and it sucks this much cock.
Good Cop's Verdict: Plenty of promise.
My Verdict: Consider me the bad cop.
Game Type: Custom, apparently using numerous text files for content that you can click on, although it is not a batch-file fest.
Author Info: No idea.
Other Games By This Author: None known
Download Link: ftp://ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/pc/doplgngr.zip
I buy a lot of video games. That's not supposed to impress you. The deal is that I have developed some sort of belief that this hobby can be a valid form of artistic expression and really, when it comes right down to it, I believe in trying to make sense out of man's existence on this world. Computer games aren't even close to being there, but hopefully before I die they will be. I also hold a belief that text adventure games are somehow usually above the crass commercialism you see at an EB or Babbages. Sometimes they are. Usually they are not as annoying as Doppleganger.
It's the most irritating thing I've played this calendar year. Worse than Thief: Gold locking up my PC every time I click my mouse to get through a movie. Worse than Ultima IX not having a setup screen until you've jerked your avatar about the screen for ten minutes and -- get this -- fucking dressed him. Doppleganger (sic -- at least for this game) is worse than all of that. I'm starting to lose the faith.
The game starts off innocently enough -- it's the year 2184 and you are Michael Telard. You have saved the asses of many people now live on Neptune. Yet you have received no promotions for your work -- not even so much as a thank-you. We are told that secret agents shouldn't expect such accolades. But you're only human. Hee hee, narmean? At any rate, the IP-33 -- a robot that has a secretly ironic backstory of being an android of type ripped straight from Blade Runner -- is on the loose and it's up to you to go get it.
So far, so good. The game had you read three pages of text describing this disaster and it's well-written and interesting. Sure, it's lifted from Blade Runner, but for a simple, free text adventure that's fine -- if the programmer and author can do something with it. If they can further the art, to coin a phrase.
I should note something before this gets any further: the programming is absolutely awful. Ulam Parath can be described only as Parath. Why do so many designers not understand that 1. It's so incredibly lame to name your characters with hard-to-remember labels -- and 2. Why the hell wouldn't they implement his first name? Laziness?
I originally picked this game up three months ago but couldn't get past "the elevator." You see, you need to guess the proper phrase in order to get down to the lobby. I only knew of it because Baf put it up on his old website. The phrase is "insert pallor west card into first slot." Nothing -- and I mean fucking NOTHING -- else works. "put pallor west card into first slot" does not work... "insert pallor card into first slot" does not work... and God forbid you omit the "pallor west card" noun and "first" adjective. It's shitty coding. Did they honestly expect anyone to guess that?
The game crashes if you try to read your equipment list, but I don't hold that against it -- I was playing it on my laptop in W95 DOS which has as much in common with real DOS as me trying to flood Yahoo into shutting down with a million page requests. The thing is, a lot of the text for the game is in separate, easy-to-read text files. So I was able to discern what equipment I needed -- not that I could get it, or anything.
Once you get into the city you are again sucker punched with the prospect of promise. I wanted to explore a city. I really did. And some of it is good -- there are some definite decent scenes in place. The newsstand. The hotel with the snooty Frenchman who won't let me in. My apartment complex. I had no problem scouring the city in order to find out where the hell the android was holed up and complete the game.
That is, until I tried to get into my own apartment. Somehow I got stuck in the elevator. I firmly believe that elevators should be banned from text adventures because they are all intrinsically annoying. They always make you "wait" a turn so it seems "realistic." It's like programmers expect game players to have absolutely no problem with suspect physics, laughable NPC motivations, inane puzzles and insta-death rooms but the thing that really irks us is instantly being able to get off elevators on whatever floor we want. Like we'd get the Anarchist's Cookbook and start filling recipes if we didn't have to fucking wait for the little fake text elevator in the little fake text world to take a few turns until we were "there." Awful.But that wasn't enough to get me to stop playing the game. Fine -- I couldn't go home. I reasoned that I could still play much of the game and do a decent job for this review. I was really hoping to find a diamond in the rough with this game and have fun informing the readers of this site about a classic they might have missed. Well.... then it happened.
"Your mouth is starting to get dry."
That's where I just freaking lost it. I mean, I lost it.
Not only have I had to fight the goddamn shitass piece of puke that is this game's "parser"... not only do I get stuck in an elevator... but now I have to deal with thirst code? Are you out of your goddamn mind? I said a few bad words. I looked at the game stupidly, mouth wholly agape and a blank, glazed-over look on my face. I almost punched my laptop square in the display. Thirst code. Fucking thirst code.
That's when I stopped playing Doppleganger.
Simple Rating: 1.5 / 10
Story: 7.2 / 10 (Some of it's lifted, but the game has promise. The characters are well-developed, but poorly programmed.)
Writing: 8.9 / 10 (Really good. I did laugh while playing the game. Sometimes smug, on the whole there just isn't enough of it.
Playability: 0.5 / 10 (Christ. Someone please make it stop.)
Puzzle Quality: 0 / 10 (Using an elevator shouldn't be a puzzle. The rest of us worked out this locomotion thing in our games in 1979.)
Parser Responsiveness: 0.5 / 10 (Let's not go there. Although it did know the Van Gogh as "painting." That shouldn't impress anyone. )
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