A Broken Man by Geoff Forty-Two (Inform)
(Contains spoilers. You’ve been warned.)
This was a likeable enough game in its own right, but let down by some serious bugs, guess-what-the-heck-the-writer-was-thinking and a general carelessness in the writing.
It seems you’re a guy out to avenge his family who have been killed by a terrorist. So you’re intending to break into his mansion and exact a little revenge on him. ‘An eye for an eye’ kind of thing.
The guess-what-the-heck-the-writer-was-thinking was a pain at times. One of the earliest commands in the game – needed to get inside the mansion of the terrorist by a window – required me to use an item that I doubt I would ever have thought of using in those circumstances. Later on, in order to actually defeat the terrorist himself, I’m required to lure him from where he originally is to another location then trap him there by covering the toilet seat with glue. Yes, seriously. God only knows how I was expected to figure that out.
Certain things in the game need to be done in a certain order. I found myself dead at the hands of the terrorist a couple of times because I’d wandered into his bedroom at the wrong time; at others, I was able to wander in and out of his bedroom to my heart’s content and he never batted an eyelid.
I remember quite a few retro games from the 80’s that used a similar idea to what is used here, i.e. you start the game carrying nothing important but then, by some astounding stroke of luck, you manage to find every single item you need to finish the game. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear someone had actually gone round and left these items for me to find. Pity they didn’t just leave me something useful like a gun…
The worst aspect of the game, though, was the deaths. Not the deaths that are down to the player making a mistake, or the deaths that occur as a result of a series of events that you have set in motion, but the times the game tells you that you’ve died but doesn’t give any reason as to why whatsoever. This always occurred in the bathroom. For example:
PUT GLUE ON SEAT
YOU PUT A THIN LAYER OF GLUE ON THE TOILET SEAT.
PUT GLUE ON RAILS
YOU PUT A THIN LAYER OF GLUE ON THE RAILS.
*** YOU DIED. ***
IN 134 MOVES, YOU HAVE SCORED 9 OF A POSSIBLE 24 POINTS. THIS MAKES YOU A SLY FOX.
Did I die from the glue fumes? Did the toilet seat flip up and crack me one on the noggin? Or did I suffer a sudden, albeit very quiet, heart attack? Whatever happened, it would have been nice to have been told. This bizarre, unexplained death was also on a timer meaning that even with an UNDO command to hand, I wasn’t able to escape it.
I didn’t finish the game. A couple of times I died while trying to kill the terrorist – who, even while sleeping and unarmed is more than a match for an awake guy with a knife – and several other times in the bathroom when the game would tell me *** YOU DIED. *** but not why. My enthusiasm to keep playing after that just took a distinct nosedive.
One part of the game was mildly amusing. A sex scene with the maid. No, not for that reason but because of the way it was handled. A pity the rest of the game wasn’t as good.
3 out of 10