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Bureaucracy

by Douglas Adams and The Staff of Infocom

Satire
1987

(based on 36 ratings)
1 member review

About the Story

IMPORTANT! Our records show that you do not have a license to operate this software. Normally, you would be required to complete a License Application Form and mail it (with proof of purchase) to our Licensing Department, and then wait the customary four to six months for processing.

Luckily, for your convenience, we have, at the last minute and at great expense, installed a remarkable new on-line electronic application form on this very disk, which will be processed by our modern 24-hour computer service moments after you fill it in.

Bureaucracy! Everyone, at one time or another, feels bound up in an endless swathe of red tape. In Bureaucracy, best-selling humorist Douglas Adams draws on his own battles with beadledom to create a hilarious misadventure. You'll find yourself in the midst of a bureaucratic muddle so convoluted that you can't help but laugh.

You've just landed a great new job and moved to a spiffy house in a nice little town. You're even being sent to Paris this very afternoon for a combination training seminar and vacation. What could possibly go wrong? The answer, of course, is everything. When the bank refuses to acknowledge your change-of-address form, you'll find yourself entangled in a series of bureaucratic mishaps that take you from the feeding trough of a greedy llama to the lofty branches of a tree deep in the Zalagasan jungle.

The distinctive humor that made The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy a runaway success will keep you in stitches as you confront a series of bureaucratic puzzles and experience the thrill of outsmarting the powers that be.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: Unknown
License: Commercial
Development System: ZIL
Forgiveness Rating: Cruel
IFIDs:  ZCODE-86-870212
ZCODE-116-870602
ZCODE-116-870602-FFBC
TUID: zjyxds3s57pgis3x

Editorial Reviews

SPAG
This game has become the standard by which almost all tongue-in-cheek games about real life are measured, and has been imitated many times, but seldom equalled. The atmosphere is not surprisingly, very much like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but is in many ways funnier since it hits areas that the gamer will have experienced firsthand.
-- Graeme Cree
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5 star:
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Number of Reviews: 1
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Billed as one of the hardest Infocom titles - and rightly so!, August 10, 2009
by Peter Pears (Lisbon, Portugal)
Second only to Spellbreaker in difficulty, Bureaucracy is, according to the manual, "Adams' doomed attempt to have the last laugh on bureaucrats everywhere". The key words here are "Adams", "Bureaucrats", certainly "Everywhere" and definitely "Laugh".

The story begins very promisingly. Well, for you, at least. After all, you've changed jobs and address, and are about to receive a money order from the company you now work on. With that money and a free ticket to Paris, where you shall attend a training seminar, what could possible go wrong?

The answer, of course, is everything. It starts as a little screw-up: the bank sent your "change-of-address" form to your old address, where you can't go to and from where no one bothers to send you anything. And the bank can't send another one until the one they sent has been filled in and delivered. Policy, you know.

This causes all sorts of complications, as you'll soon find out, but there's a more pressing matter at hand. When the mailman comes, he delivers you your order, all right - or in fact, someone's order. It's not yours. And that means that your money is somewhere out there, and you'll have to think your way through an excentric deaf old woman, a stamp collector and a true personification of Paranoia himself. And if you find what you're looking for, then your adventure has just begun...

Right at the beginning, Bureaucracy does something great: it collects data from you. A lot of data. It will then proceed to misuse that data as often as possible, with hilarious results... well, hilarious to the player, as the PC's blood pressure just keeps rising and rising. And if the blood pressure goes too high - game over, you're dead. The game will use that information more liberally in the very start, to set the mood and background. It has no practical information, but it's *that extra mile* that makes it all worth it.

The game is designed to instill paranoia. To make you feel as though someone is out to get you. Hence it will become more and more surreal as you advance, and as more and more things start to go wrong. You will need your wits about you to thwart all those "company policies", and deal with all sorts of mis-haps, where you'll eventually learn that Yikes, They Must Really Be Out To Get Me! Or Anyone They Can Lay Hands On! Pass The Suicide Pill, Please!

Complementing it all is a nerdy character who follows you around everywhere. And I mean *everywhere.* And I mean *nerdy*, the epitome of nerdiness. Always trying to sell you something great for just a little more than you can afford.

The atmosphere is amazing, more so because so much of it is stuff we can recognize. Getting lost in the airport, for instance, is something we can all relate to. And when you're trying desperatly to find the right ticket desk, going around in circles, being forced to listen to the same arrangements of the same muzak, and being fed the same PA announcements over and over again, some of which concern YOU, and then up comes the nerd...

...it will make you throw your hands in the air, crying, sobbing, helpless against this terrible machinery of bureaucracy. And if you do, then the game has managed the almost impossible: it got to you in a personal level, grabbed all your levers and buttons and *won't let go*.

It's so rare for a game to do this, don't you think?

And you just keep on and on, sure that at the end all rights will be wronged. Or maybe all wrongs will be righted, who knows. It's that slim hope that keeps you going. The same hope that you feel when you've been on hold for thirty minutes at a stretch and when someone finally picks up the line he tells you "I'm sorry, but we don't deal with that sort of thing at this number"...

What I don't care for is half of the puzzles. There are two types of puzzles in this game - and indeed, I've come to realize, in many Infocom games intended to be hard.

The titles of "standard" difficulty usually have, essentially, IF-puzzles. Roam around, see what you can see, combine what you can, and give all the powers of evil a good thwarting.

Those IF-puzzles are great in Bureaucracy. The entire first and second part is all about them. I solved every single one of those, and felt great. It was for feelings like that, I feel, that God saw fit to create Bishop, Crowther and Woods.

Then there's the pattern puzzles, the "puzzly" puzzles, and the "WTF?!" puzzles. The game doesn't go as far adding a Towers of Hanoi, like Zork Zero did, but it's a near thing. There are puzzles that require you to move around a lot, fiddle around a lot, grasp complicated patterns (press button X situated at F-H causes the seat three seats behind you and two to the left to recline, for instance). I never cared for those, which is why I had to pass up on such great games as "Not Just an Ordinary Ballerina", a wonderful game that is, essentially, puzzles.

The "WTF" puzzles are just too much. I reccommend reading the following spoiler. (Spoiler - click to show)Later in the game you receive a cartridge for your computer, and you have to display four files "B, C, D and E" in the correct order. Now, when you were going through other people's mail, you collected some postal stickers with these same letters on. The order in which to display the files is the order in which you got those stickers! I mean, a real WTF?! moment. And even then, you have to read the output vertically, which is a real strain!

So for these puzzles, it's best to have the hints ready. But apart from that... apart from that, the game is really something special. And the ending, while not spectacular, makes it all worth it - you get your comeuppance.

I definitely would have given this game a 5/5, if it weren't for those types of puzzles. As it is, it's 4/5 from me. If you *like* that type of puzzle, then by all means, get this game! If you don't, get the game anyway - just be sure to get the hints as well!

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Polls

The following polls include votes for Bureaucracy:

Games where the PC is an antihero by Sorrel
I'm looking for games where the PC is the villain/antihero of the story and the traditional plotlines of "good beats evil" aren't followed.

Dystopia by dacharya64
I love dystopian fiction, and after playing Square Circle, I decided I had to see if there were other dystopian tales in the IF-verse.

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I'm looking for preferably short games that focus on part of someone's life in our world and preferably our time. I would like games with an emotional focus.

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This is version 5 of this page, edited by Edward Lacey on 13 April 2013 at 2:27pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item