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About the StoryThe lizards have taken over. You, a lowly human slave, are tasked with eradicating all mammalian traces from the Don Quixote Memorial Museum.
(Written for the Apollo 18+20 tribute album project.)
Zorkmid (Z-Code Mapping and Illustrations Device) is a new community-driven project to provide games with human-designed maps and illustrations that display in an attractive new interface.
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You have to do this because your lizard-people overlords are forcing you to. So there is a genocidal aspect to the game.
I found this game to be somewhat difficult near the end because I didn't realize how many items had additional uses.
I used the Club Floyd transcript for the last two puzzles.
I found it enjoyable, but sometimes wonky (hidden items aren't listed in the room description even after you discover them, you can wind things you really oughtn't be able to wind, and so on).
Related reviews: treasure hunt, science fiction, compulsion, holocaust, philosophy, ethics, trophy case, animals
(Spoiler - click to show)This is a fairly grim premise, since you're effectively a Sonderkommando. The wider context of the purge is never explicitly stated, but there's ample evidence that it has been a violent and chaotic process. The featureless protagonist shows no signs of emotional reaction, and dutifully goes about a set of simple tasks that are perfectly familiar to an IF player: find and identify the treasures, solve some mild puzzles to secure them, return them to the trophy-case. The PC is wholly subsumed by their role.
There are some obvious homages: the skip as trophy case is a throwback to Ad Verbum, and the reptilians bear no small resemblance to Dr. Sliss of Rogue of the Multiverse. (If there are any direct references to the TMBG song, I wouldn't notice them.) More generic stock IF devices are common, too: a crowbar to pry things with, a wandering cat. This is about the morally numbing effect of familiarity, of how having an excellent practical grasp of how to do something can make it seem less ethically troubling. That this is a mechanically unremarkable game is kind of the point. The puzzles are just fiddly enough to engage your attention and keep it away from the elephant in the room. Ultimately, you incinerate yourself for the lousy last point. (I assume; there's a point or two that I haven't found.)
Mammal is not an ethically deep work; it has a single trick to pull, a single point to make. But it's cleverly handled, and it delivers a mean little moment of realisation. And it's very clearly not about the rather tired point that players will cheerfully do atrocious things if shepherded by gameplay; rather, it takes that as read and takes advantage of it.
(There is one small bug: if you incinerate yourself while holding other mammals, the other mammals are not incinerated.)
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This is version 8 of this page, edited by Teaspoon on 27 March 2016 at 10:26am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item