Man Alive - Part 2

Man Alive - Part 2 by Bill Powell (Inform)

“Man Alive – Part 1” confused the heck out of me. Part 2 was even worse. Maybe it made sense to the writer but it sure didn’t to this poor player.

What’s it about? Well, I don’t really know. It begins with you in an unofficial court of law awaiting trial for attempted murder. I didn’t finish the previous game – even with a walkthrough to hand I felt it was too much of a chore – so I started this one not really understanding what was going on. Then again, as neither Part 1 nor Part 2 really made any sense as far as I could tell, it’s unlikely that if I had finished Part 1, I’d have been any the wiser.

The first few moves in the game annoyed me. They were different than the moves required to begin Part 1, but equally frustrating and I ended up consulting the walkthrough (which, like Part 1, has the proper commands interspersed with random snippets of text) and finding out that in order to get anywhere I had to TOUCH an item. As I was already carrying this item in my hands at the time, touching it to make it do anything struck me as kind of unusual. But not half as unusual as the rest of the game.

From the court room, I find myself stepping back in time to a garden where I need to perform a lot of non-obvious commands that didn’t make any sense to me. For some reason, I need to find a rake. The rake turns out to be in the tree but the game doesn’t think much will be achieved by my climbing the tree. So I take the rake. Only I can’t use it to rake the garden or, indeed, do anything with it. Instead I speak to my wife, tell her some meaningless babble about having another wife and children somewhere else, throw the rake in the air, and run off…

You can probably gather from the tone of this review so far that I wasn’t impressed with the game, can’t you? I’ll admit I liked the bizarre style of writing but that’s about it. The rest of it… well, it didn’t make a blind bit of sense and I ended up just keying in commands from the walkthrough because it beat trying to understand what was going on.

Aside from the fact that the game made no sense at all, there were some annoying gameplay flaws that would have let down even a good game. There’s a boat that can’t be entered, there’s a fellow called Polar Bear who attacks me yet who I’m unable to attack back because the game won’t even accept that he’s there, there are lots of other things.

I’ll settle for giving this the first score as Part 1 and just hope that the writer tries to make his next game a little more straightforward.

3 out of 10

My only problem in MA2 was the very beginning. I didn’t know I needed to touch the paper figures, and it annoys the heck out of me when games aren’t implemented to trap for any physical contact as a touch (there was a game in last year’s competition, involving the escape from a prison cell, that did this same thing). Once I got through that, though, I like Part 2 a lot more than Part 2, because I felt like things kept moving forward. It wasn’t as complicated, and the story had a good pace.