Have you played this game?You can rate this game, record that you've played it, or put it on your wish list after you log in.
Playlists and Wishlists
RSS FeedsNew member reviews
Updates to downloadable files
All updates to this page
About the Story"Finally, here you are. At the delcot of tondam, where doshes deave. But the doshery lutt is crenned with glauds.
Glauds! How rorm it would be to pell back to the bewl and distunk them, distunk the whole delcot, let the drokes uncren them.
But you are the gostak. The gostak distims the doshes. And no glaud will vorl them from you." [--blurb from Competition Aught-One]
Nominee, Best Puzzles; Winner, Best Individual Puzzle; Nominee, Best Individual NPC; Winner, Best Use of Medium - 2001 XYZZY Awards
21st Place - 7th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2001)
Play This Thing!
Distim the doshes
The Gostak is not the game you want to start with if you're new to interactive fiction, because a lot of the decoding process is aided if you already know what commands are typically used in IF and what kinds of things the model is likely to include. But if you've played a few IF games and are looking to have your mind bent in a new way -- a way that would be impossible to imagine in anything but a textual gaming medium -- then you might want to give it a try. Expect to spend a lot of time on each turn making dictionary notes, even for the simplest of moves...
See the full review
[...] there's still a whimsical feel to the responses that makes the game more than the sum of its crytographical parts. It's a tribute to the thoroughness of the implementation that the world you inhabit begins to take on some personality; obstacles and helpers don't just serve their functions, they also have connotations, associations -- this one is faintly ludicrous, that one is vaguely chummy, another one is not very bright but trusting -- that suggest that the world-creation effort did not, by any stretch, stop with the bare minimum.
See the full review
>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
I was shocked at how quickly and easily I found myself typing commands like "doatch at droke about calbice". However, the whole experience was completely cerebral, with little of the emotional catharsis I associate with successful storytelling. I felt this effect when I played Dan Schmidt's For a Change, but it's ten times stronger in this game, where words aren't simply rearranged but actually replaced wholesale. Consequently, while playing The Gostak was a strange and memorable experience, one which will surely elevate the game to the rarefied level of For A Change, Bad Machine, and Lighan ses Lion, I found it a somewhat strained sort of fun. Great for a puzzle-solving mood, and certainly worth trying if you're a cryptography buff, but not terribly involving as a story.
See the full review
|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 7
Write a review
Most Helpful Member Reviews
And, I note, the entire game is like this, including very and deeply extensive meta information. At no point is the central linguistic conceit dropped. I'm a sucker for this, and indeed this is one of my favorite games as a result, but more importantly, the game is approachable in a way that most IF with a metatextual conceit is not. That said, some basic familiarity with the standard Inform library will greatly enhance one's experience with the game, as many (to me) critical clues for solving the game's language came from default responses.
The reference is to the sentence "The gostak distims the doshes", which is used to illustrate how syntax can convey meaning — we don't know what a gostak is, nor what distimming is, nor what doshes are, but we do know that distimming is something a gostak does to doshes, and we know that doshes can be distimmed by a gostak. As you play the game, you uncover meaning-in-this-sense, and you learn how things are related to each other; but there is no perfect one-to-one mapping of the gostak's language to English, and I have a strong feeling that the gostak's universe is very different from ours.
I "completed" the game a few days ago, but there's still a lot to discover and speculate on, so I'm still playing it.
Of course, you have to constantly remind yourself that your model is only a model. The world of The Gostak is an alien one, and although there are many terms that seem to have close analogues in our reality or other games, there's never enough information to really know what anything is like. To some extent this is true of all text games, with many details left up to the player to fill in mentally, but in The Gostak you're painting with broad strokes. Abstract splatters, really. And no matter how vague and fuzzy you try to keep the picture in your head, you'll almost certainly over-imagine things and make assumptions about concepts that lead you astray. A particular term can turn out to be dual-purpose in a way you wouldn't expect, or a physical action may be only superficially similar to whatever you were thinking of as its equivalent. In a longer or crueler game, this tension would be infuriating. Here, the push and pull is a dual pleasure.
I do have gripes about two puzzles. One relies on a word that I felt was too obscure (it was barely present in any of the output, as far as I could tell), and another has a solution that doesn't match well with the information provided (there are sufficient clues to reach the solution through experimentation, but it was not clear to me why that particular action was necessary or why it would be that effective). I regret being so late to the party for this game--it would be interesting to play this one at the same time as someone else and see which details stuck out to them, and to have them describe the particular way they imagined this weird world in their head.
See All 7 Member Reviews
If you enjoyed The Gostak...
Related GamesPeople who like The Gostak also gave high ratings to these games:
|Draculaland, by Robin Johnson|
Average member rating: (13 ratings)
A terse, comic horror puzzle game based loosely on Dracula, faithfully reimagining several characters and ignoring most of the original plot. Guide Jonathan Harker on a trip through Transylvania, interacting with vampires, mad...
|50 Shades of Jilting, by Rowan Lipkovits (as Lankly Lockers)|
Average member rating: (10 ratings)
The relationship is in a walking dead situation: it's over, only continuing to move onward solely on inertia. One way or another, it ends here.
|That Sinister Self, by Astrid Dalmady|
Average member rating: (10 ratings)
You look in to a mirror. Your reflection does not look back. That Sinister Self is a short Twine game about a young girl and how she sees herself in the mirror.
Recommended ListsThe Gostak appears in the following Recommended Lists:
Most unusual games by MathBrush
These are games that are very different than most games on IFDB. Some games that are exceptional in execution (like Counterfeit Monkey) are derived from concepts that are similar to other games (like Andrew Schultz's or Ad Verbum). This...
Xyzzy "Best Individual Puzzle" winners by Nusco
All the games that won the Best Individual Puzzle award, year by year. I'll avoid giveaway spoilers in my comments, but I'll still comment on the type and difficulty of the puzzle. I'll describe the puzzles by my own categories....
PollsThe following polls include votes for The Gostak:
Great Openings by Floating Info
What games have your favorite openings? By opening I mean everything before the first room description in a parser game or the first screen of a choice game. It could be a sentence, a few sentences, a paragraph, or more. But I'm looking...
Games You Return To by Ghalev
What games do you find yourself revisiting from time to time, games that have proven to be a kind of comfort-food of text adventuring, the warm old socks of parser and puzzle, the socks-full-of-comfort-food of overextended metaphor? What...
Solved without Hints by joncgoodwin
I'm very interested in hearing truthful accounts of at least somewhat difficult games (or games that don't solve themselves at least) solved completely without recourse to hints, walkthroughs, etc.
This is version 7 of this page, edited by Doug Orleans on 3 June 2015 at 6:24pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item