Mobius by J. D. Clemens (Inform)

Unfortunately, this one didn’t impress me much at the start. For some reason, it decided to list the room directions as port and starboard instead of the more normal compass directions, so I spent a while having to familiarise myself with where I was. Why did it do this? Beats me.

The idea behind the game seems to be that you’re some kind of futuristic soldier who has been sent to some kind of research station where a crisis has occurred. When you get there, there are a couple of badly injured people lying on the floor but the rest of your team haven’t arrived for some reason. A few moments later, the reactor explodes and it’s curtains…

Or is it? Apparently not as I didn’t die then, but seem to have been turned into some kind of ghost. I say ‘some kind of’ ghost because while I’m able to see my living self standing at the side of me, I can’t communicate with him or attack him, yet at the same time I’m able to manipulate other items.

Making progress was a pain. I was stuck in a single room and every action I performed seemed to achieve nothing. And then every dozen or so moves, the reactor would explode and the sequence begin once more. Done differently, this might have been a decent enough game, but as I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be doing, and was more and more annoyed at not being able to make the slightest bit of progress, I was soon looking around for the ever-helpful walkthrough file. Good job as well because I see some of the commands listed here are ones I never would have thought to try. OPEN REACTOR WITH COAT? Hmmm…

One nice feature that the game had was the way, after the first explosion of the reactor, the other you (i.e. the one still alive) seemed to mimic the commands you’d carried out previously. I don’t know whether this affected the way the game was played – if actions you performed then need to be mimicked by your previous self – but it was a cool touch. (Not an altogether successful one, alas, as it sometimes displayed strange things like YOUR PREVIOUS SELF LOOKS CLOSELY AT NOW HE.)

Another game I gave up with before reaching the end I’m afraid. Not a terrible, terrible game by any means, but I couldn’t seem to make any progress with it and couldn’t find much enthusiasm to keep on playing.

3 out of 10

Hm, I would point out that the game did provide progressively helpful clues at the start of each iteration if it saw that you weren’t making any progress. I actually found myself making good progress by just chilling out and following what was suggested at the start of each round.

However, even after figuring out everything and fixing the reactor in both ways and in both loops, it wouldn’t get fixed. After a long while a look at the walkthrough and what I saw was the exact same thing I’d been doing. I tried it all again, tried following the walkthrough step by step even, and still everything would explode and send me back once again. In the end I quit with a very notable amount of frustration. So I would say you did indeed do the right thing by quitting early.

I kind of had the same experience with it. From the walkthrough, it looked like I had done everything. I had to make sure I was on a fresh loop and then follow it exactly from an earlier point, for it to work. Also, the hints at the beginning of each loop worked at first, but eventually it started telling me to do something that I thought I’d already done, not really understanding that I’d missed a small step.

I scored it a “7”, which is “good” on my scale. It’s a game I still like, even though I started to feel the frustration. I think it’s very clever how it all works, and I really wish I had solved it without help. If it had been a little more polished, and maybe the new-loop hint had given me a little more help, I think it could have been one of my favorites this year. Skimming my review now, I wonder if I judged it too harshly. I seem to have hit on more bugs than the average reviewer, and I think I was giving more weight to technical competency than usual this year.