Lethe Flow Phoenix by Dan Shiovitz(1995)

Review by Jonathan Blask

Game Type: TADS

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I just recently took the time to play through Dan Shiovitzís first game, Lethe Flow Phoenix.† Dan is the author of Bad Machine and a number of hilarious SpeedIF games (including Kids, don't eat your Halloween candy without having your parents inspect it first because there are SICKOS out there who will put RAZOR BLADES in it and you will CUT YOUR MOUTH and GET A POISONED INFECTION and DIE, all from eating your candy early.† So don't do that).

††††††††††† The first impression isó† okay, so hereís a well-coded game that has sort of a pastiche of Infocom game elements, with noticeable influences from Zork and Trinity (although Iím not sure it was intentional).† Itís well-written and has a lot of clever responses, but one has trouble getting over the feeling that, although itís a very well-made first effort, there isnít a whole lot of originality to it.† What it does it does well, but whatís the point of playing this for very long?† I mean, if I really wanted gazebos and gardens and sundials, Iíd be content trying to make the Wizard of Frobozz my bitch all day.† It was partly because of this that I originally put aside this game a couple years ago, with the intention of getting back to it somedayÖ

††††††††††† So, a day ago, a couple years later, I finally get around to playing it again, and I have to say, I was completely wrong about the game.† If you played Lethe Flow Phoenix and didnít get far enough to see the real plot of the game unfold, you did not play Lethe Flow Phoenix.† Thereís a lot of stuff that just left me thinking, that is *so cool* and as derivative as the first part might feel, there are elements introduced later on that make me wonder how Dan Shiovitz never pulled a CE Forman and cursed the IF world for stealing his ideas.† My only gripe is that the story is pretty much laid down on you all at one point (but definitely not the worst infodump of all time or anything) and ideally, I wouldíve liked to see it split up a bit more.

††††††† †††† While there is one puzzle in the beginning that I thought was absolutely great, most of the solutions to the others eluded me.† I had the feeling during the endgame that there wouldíve been no hope for me had I not had the walkthrough handy, but I was still high on the quality of the story itself so I really didnít care.

††††††††††† LFP isnít a perfect game.† What it is, though, is a tremendous first game and, more importantly, a damn good reason for everyone to rag on Dan Shiovitz until he gives us yet another one.

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