L.U.D.I.T.E. / Rybread Celsius (1999)

Mike Myer's Scottish Character's Verdict: If it's got Rybread, it's crap!

The Goo Goo Doll's "Eyes Wide Open"'s Verdict: Who could have spawned such harshness?

My Verdict: Our boy Rybread has taken another giant step....

Game Information

Game Type: Inform

Author Info: Rybread Celsius has written many off-beat and bizarre text adventurers. His critics have, mostly, a love-hate relationship with him. It's very difficult to straddle the fence when it comes to interactive fiction. Nonetheless, his is one of the most recognizable names (in more ways than one) in this post-Curses world.

Other Games By This Author: Punkirita Quest 1: Liquid, Symetry, Acid Whiplash(with Cody Sandifer)

Download Link: Coming

The Review...

You were expecting crap again, weren't you? Well, you're not going to get it. Not by any means.

L.U.D.I.T.E. -- an abbreviation for 'Lurk, Unite, Die, Think, Expire.' Right then, it'll hit you, if you've ever thought about programming a game. "Yes, yes! The entire hint structure in the game's title! A six-part epic that deals with one of the aforementioned concepts. Oh, how sweet." OK, this ware is not quite at that level. It's not that grandiose and it's not that long. Mr. Celsius does not, unfortunately, take us all the way. (Although there certainly is a lot of lurking in the game.)

Celsius, by development of this game, again proves that he is a deep human pool of rich fantasy concept. In some of his previous work, the interface between programming and storytelling / puzzle solving was obviously in his way. Beyond him, technically? This no longer seems to be the case when it comes to relating the feelings and emotions he has inside. Celsius credits the writing to "ten thousand monkeys on typewriters" but he is being far too humble. Is this a reflection of the fact that he has become one of the most vilified men in video game design? Has the constant shellacking he has endured withered away an sort of ego and exterior? In fact, has he become the antithesis of Dr. Derek Smart?

Possibly. It's ironic, however, that his most deeply touching work is credited to a bunch of freaking monkeys.

L.U.D.I.T.E. is not a straight, literal piece of fiction. It is symbolic fantasy with a style all its own. Celsius is not the type of designer that goes about coding a smart-ass remark for every conceived player action. He makes no such gesture in this game, either. Rather, L.U.D.I.T.E. succeeds only when truly read. By expecting what the author had planned for you and allowing yourself to go with that flow, you can suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride. The game is a wild amalgam of shifting senses and seemingly meaningless locales. He excels when he merely implies at a given situation and scene. One locale: "chaos hymn point" -- is a demented section of hallway made interesting by disembodied moaning. It's ghoulish and creepy. There is an unyielding sense of dread throughout the entire game.

The game will no doubt get publicly castrated. "It's too short!" "I didn't understand what I was supposed to be doing!" "He didn't implement any code when I went to blow my nose on the rags." Expect it. Hell, wager on it. Celsius,  proving that he has more guts than anyone else in this hobby, released it under his own name. For me, the true excitement of the aftermath of the 1999 Interactive Fiction Competition will be how this game gets treated. If there were an individual award for best writing in the comp I would vote for Celsius: hands down. No other game that I played even came close. Sure, there were more enjoyable games, there were better puzzles, there were longer games... but no other game was as effectively written. Plotted? Yes. Programmed? Ok. Written? Hell no. Perhaps it would work better as a piece of straight fiction, but then you'd lose the experience of being there.

Admittedly, my Rybread Celsius reviews are more of a series of snapshots of one young man's coming to grips with effectively expressing the torment of his creative soul. Accepting that, L.U.D.I.T.E. is the most important step so far. Celsius is one month of hard work spent plotting, programming and beta-testing from writing the next great text adventure. For with the introduction of this game it's quite obvious he has nailed concept and prose.

I am sure that I will say this many times after the competition reviews are released in defense of my own game, but as comedian Bobby Slayton has said: "I have a relationship. I don't have people living under my stairs. That's what I want out of my entertainment."

I couldn't go into any bookstore in Colorado and duplicate the experience of enjoying L.U.D.I.T.E. It's the perfect game to hand to your equally jaded friend on a flight with the comment, "get a load of this crazy thing." Mostly, though, it is a disturbing window into a young man's soul. Recommended.



Simple Rating: 9.1 / 10

Complicated Rating:

Story: 8.0 / 10

Writing: 9.7 / 10

Playability: 6 / 10

Puzzle Quality: 1 / 10

Parser Responsiveness: 3.5 / 10

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