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In summary, Pantomime has some drawbacks –obscure puzzles, a sudden change in the pace of the story -- and is clearly inferior to its author’s previous creations. But even when considering these cons the game stands in good shape, mainly by the richness of its prose and the originality of the story and characters depicted throughout it. I can easily recommend it, not only to cyberpunk fans but to anyone interested in trying a modern and very well written interactive fiction game. Pantomime is graded B by this reviewer.
-- Ricardo Pautassi
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Fear and Cloning... In Space
I did find Pantomime enjoyable, if less focused than some of Sherwin's other works; his dialogue and narrative style are unique in IF. What's more, despite the linearity of the plot, I did feel as though there was a value to presenting this as IF rather than as a piece of static fiction. At several points in the dialogue, the player character gets to make a choice of tone and attitude, especially one that reflects his opinion on pantomimes. I chose to characterize him as friendly and unbigoted, since this seemed to fit the PC and my own preferences best. The presence of the alternate options on the dialogue menu reminded me that this was an active choice on the PC's part, though, and that he could have acted much differently.
In sum, this is a game that Sherwin fans will enjoy. It's not his best work, but it has some fine moments.
-- Emily Short
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I've only played the beginning of one or two Robb Sherwin games prior to this. That's probably why my reactions bounced between "whoa. did he really say that?" and "wow. what's it going to be *next*?" Somehow, even if he's holding back, it doesn't *feel* that way. Aside from a few typos - probably the result of the hurried effort to meet the deadline - the writing is great. It flows better because it's more casual. It's not just *how* Sherwin writes - it's also *what* he writes: the insults between characters, the one-off jokes, the clever descriptions and bits of back-story. I usually cringe at coarse passages and lowbrow humor in a game, but that's part of what makes Pantomime so interesting. Sherwin seems to write it in a convincing, honest way.
-- Mike Snyder
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The game is science fiction and takes place on a moon of Jupiter. The 'pantomimes' are clones of people. The author does an amazing job of creating a strong atmosphere and a fascinating universe. Much of the game is spent in dialogue, and there are few puzzles. Normally, this is not my type of game. I vastly prefer games with heavy puzzles that keep me thinking for a while. (Although I must admit that one puzzle in this game had me searching the internet for hints and walkthroughs.) However, the snappy writing and dark humor of the game instantly hooked me. I found myself playing through the entire first half of the game without solving even one real puzzle, but not caring one bit. Learning about the world and attempting to put together the puzzle of what was happening in the game easily replaced the thrill of solving more traditional puzzles.
The only thing that keeps the game from 5 stars is a slightly buggy implementation in certain places. For example, at some point you enter a location at a key moment for a certain NPC and the description fails to note the obvious, stating instead "[The NPC] is here." And at some point while attempting to solve what I thought was a puzzle, I was greeted with the response "The couch is closed." There are also some elements mentioned in the room descriptions that are not recognized by the game. However, although the bugs can be a bit distracting at times, the game is highly recommended.
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