“A mishmash of robots, psychic powers and “ghosts” in a game of action and survival.”
So reads the blurb for My Mind’s Mishmash. I actually read a few reviews of this game before playing it (a bad idea, I know, as it can change the whole way you play a game) and see that several others dislike the blurb. I don’t really care for it myself. It doesn’t give a good impression of the game as a whole, and, considering that the game, aside from the brief first scene, isn’t really a mishmash, it’s misleading as well.
For the opening, though, the game is a mishmash. And not one I really liked to be perfectly honest. After a brief intro in which you’re informed you’re a soldier of some kind in the far future, you’re thrust into battle in a ‘cold suit’ and have to use your various weapons to kill an enemy described simply as the traitor. There are a number of rough edges here, with ADRIFT’s default error messages frequently spoiling the mood. When fighting the traitor (the game’s first ‘puzzle’), I’m advised that KILL TRAITOR isn’t very nice (but, er, isn’t that the whole point?), while FIGHT TRAITOR tells me that there is nothing here worth fighting. When trying to examine the suits of the various combatants, I’m asked which one – yours or the traitor’s? – and when selecting yours, I’m told that it’s still ambiguous. After much struggling, I managed to hit on the solution to what I was supposed to be doing and I was away, killing the traitor (even though it’s not very nice and not worth fighting) and progressing swiftly to the next part of the game.
The game is divided into a number of episodes, starting, strangely enough, with the final episode, number 5, and having the others follow in a seemingly random order. The cold suit you fight in actually seems to be part of a game you are engaged in as opposed to an actual war. A rival player named memoryblam has decided to pull a fast one on you and there’s a chance he could destroy the avatar (in game character) you’re using and thus set you back several days to the last time you backed up. So you set out to stop him. (Yes, this bit was a mishmash. I had to read it through several times to get my head around it and even now I’m not entirely sure I’ve got it right.)
Unless carefully programmed to do otherwise, ADRIFT has the annoying habit of displaying false information about exits which are currently inaccessible. If, say, you’re standing in a corridor running east to west with a locked door to the north and you try to go south, you’ll see a message telling you that you can only go east and west. No mention of the exit to the north is made and thus it’s possible to miss exits if you’re not careful. There are also problems relating to this and the map, when often an exit will be listed in the room description yet isn’t made visible on the map itself. This can work to your advantage, though, as sometimes a jagged line will be displayed on the map to indicate a hidden exit exists to another location. Once I wasn’t aware there was an exit in that direction, but the map clued me into the fact that there was, which was nice because otherwise I might have missed it.
The player wears a ‘ghost cap’ while playing through the various episodes that comprise the bulk of the game. This is a clever device that, whilst wearing it, renders you invisible to NPCs but prevents you from interacting with anything. Directional commands and examination are pretty much the only things that are available to you with the ghost cap in place. Removing it is necessary to interact with anything, but this carries the problem of NPCs then being able to see you (a patrolling guard will promptly throw you in prison if he catches you) so caution needs to be exercised when taking it off. I was in two minds about the whole ghost cap routine. On one hand, it’s quite a neat idea and allows you to explore a potentially dangerous area in complete safety so you can familiarise yourself with the layout before doing anything risky. On the other hand, having to continually type REMOVE CAP and WEAR CAP (or RC and WC) every time you need to remove or wear the cap can be a pain. From a quick look through my transcript, I see that over the half the times I needed to interact with an item, I forgot to type RC first and was then prompted to do so by the game before it would let any interaction take place. I would then wander off without remembering to put the cap back on and find myself captured a few moves later. Some kind of automatic removal and wearing of the cap might have helped.
There were ambiguity problems I found in relation to an item called the node ripper which you carry with you. As there are other nodes found in the game which are simply referred to as ‘node’, trying to examine them hit me with an ambiguity error message.
Using items was sometimes problematic. At the very start of the game, I was able to use all of the weapons in the cold suit with USE HOOK or USE GUN, yet later on the game became more picky about what it would and wouldn’t allow and forced me to specify what I needed to do in more detail.
5 out of 10