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About the StoryThey said you would sleep for half a millennium - not an unreasonable length of time, considering you'd be in limited cryogenic suspension. Your body would rest at the planet's nerve center, an underground complex 20 miles beneath the surface. Your brain, they told you, would be wired to a network of computers; your mind would continue to operate at a minimal level, overseeing maintenance of surface-side equilibrium. And you would not awake, so they promised, until your 500 years had elapsed - barring, of course, the most dire emergency.
Then, and only then, you would be awakened to save your planet by strategically manipulating six robots, each of whom perceives the world differently. But such a catastrophe, you have been assured, could not possibly occur.
It might be best not to think of Suspended as a work of Interactive Fiction at all. It is a pseudo-simulation game, written before software technology was developed enough to develop real simulation games. It is a game for frustrated would-be air traffic controllers who enjoy coordinating multiple activities from a central location, much more than it is a work of fiction. It is a game for people who like to play WITH games, not merely play them.
-- Graeme Cree
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With the premise of six robots that all have different senses, I was expecting to be sifting through cryptic output half the time, similar to Bad Machine, but it's not like that. Yeah, sometimes the robots will see things in different ways (or not see things at all), but their descriptions are quite human-friendly. In fact, sometimes it feels like their limited senses are more of an excuse to have sparse room descriptions. There really aren't that many objects in the facility for you to poke, pick up, or otherwise interact with. You won't be juggling dozens of inventory items in this game, another reason why the problem-solving stays manageable.
I have heard Suspended described as A Mind Forever Voyaging's endgame turned into a puzzle game proper, but the game I would say it is most similar to (though it predates both) is Varicella. Play sessions typically end badly for you within a couple hundred turns, but this is expected, as your initial task is to gather information using all the tools at your disposal. Once you get a sense of when, where, and why things are happening, then you can concern yourself with the positioning and timing required to bring the plan together. And of course somewhere along the way you have to figure out how to get past the trickier obstacles. In each case, it's a satisfying nut to crack.
I suppose I can't be too hard on an old Infocom game for this, but I should mention that Suspended does have some picky moments about which nouns and verbs you need to use. I never got stuck on them (whether by luck or persistence), but don't expect gentle nudging toward the right idea, or any feedback at all in some cases. Referring back to the manual can help.
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As a historical exercise, I've begun compiling a list of IF games that have either done something ground breaking with the medium or otherwise influenced it; and I've turned it into a poll so everyone can have input on the expansion....
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I'm looking for games where the player character is significantly stupider and/or less observant than the average player - the kind of game where part of the challenge is making sense of the descriptions offered through the simplistic...
This is version 7 of this page, edited by Edward Lacey on 23 September 2013 at 2:29pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item