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About the StoryYour day got off to a good enough start when you met that blonde in the breakfast queue, but it's all downhill from there: you may be wishing you could escape a particularly dire lecture, but not by the one way the lecture has just declared impossible. For suddenly, you are lurched into limbo, apparently to experience the after-life at first hand. What will you find there: heaven, hell, or the blonde you met at breakfast?
Nominee, Best Game; Nominee, Best Story; Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual Puzzle; Nominee, Best Individual NPC - 2005 XYZZY Awards
Only a well-done game can successfully combine such elements as a rather detailed plot, puzzles of all sorts, a theologically dense theme, and Greek alphabet characters. "All Hope Abandon," though the prospect seems dizzying in retrospect, does all of the above and somehow manages to seem somewhat natural. [...] (Paul Lee)
[...] any reviewer will tell you it's much easier to write a memorable review for a flawed game; sure enough, All Hope Abandon doesn't offer much in this respect. At best, one could complain about the puzzles being too easy, which isn't much of a drawback as times go, and the most sceptical among the players would probably point out that the whole romantic plotline is a bit unrealistic, considering the protagonist and his beloved barely knew each other [...] (Valentine Kopteltsev)
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The game does a hilarious job of satirising trends in academic theology (well, I thought it was hilarious anyway). The basic joke is that the spiritual world has to adapt to match theological trends, so when our protagonist dies of boredom during a lecture on Mark's Gospel, he finds that hell is being closed down to conform to "demythologisation". Admittedly the satire is rather blunted by the datedness of the target (Bultmann's famous essay on demythologisation was written in the 1940s, and this sort of thing hasn't been top of the theological agenda for some decades) but I think we can live with that.
Despite the humorous style (I especially liked (Spoiler - click to show)the theology exam from hell - this actually gave me uncomfortable flashbacks to my own finals) there are some sections with more serious and even moving overtones. The recurring theme of the Empty Tomb makes that inevitable. (Spoiler - click to show) I found this especially so with the Golgotha scene, where you must inscribe words onto the cross of Christ. I'm not certain if this mixing of moods is confusing or adds depth; it is probably down to individual taste.
How does the game play? It is extremely episodic. For the most part, you move from area to area without going back, and often without carrying objects over. This can feel quite disjointed, and there seems to be little logic in what scene follows what. That, is perhaps, deliberate. (Spoiler - click to show)It is, after all, a stumble through the landscape of someone's mind. It also makes the game quite a fun series of discrete puzzles; you don't have to worry about what's already happened, or worry that you should have brought some object that you missed. But it can also feel quite illogical. (Spoiler - click to show)It is odd to re-enact the resurrection and then shortly afterwards come to the scene of the crucifixion!
The puzzles are variable in difficulty, of course, but I found some of them hard without using the hints. There are a number of guess-the-verb issues. (Spoiler - click to show)You are told that you cannot MOVE the statue's hair, but you are still expected to PULL it. That's annoying. Also, COMMANDing the stone to move doesn't work, but TELLing it to do so does. I have to say that some are rather badly clued as well. (Spoiler - click to show)In the empty tomb, you are told that this is *Mark's* version of the story - so you can't appeal to an angel to move the stone, since that doesn't happen in Mark. I thought that this must mean that the young man in a white garment, who appears in Mark, was relevant, and spent some time trying to work out how to acquire such a garment. It turned out that I was supposed simply to tell the stone to move. But that doesn't happen in Mark either!
The sheer fun of the game, not to mention the audacity of a game that revolves around theological jokes, overcome these issues enough to make this a 4 for me. The writing is very good throughout, and the world is extremely well implemented (being able to examine not only the characters in pictures, but the objects they are holding, is pretty impressive). The hints are also excellently done, revealing the solution suitably gradually.
Good points of Eve games: several NPC's, large map that doesn't really need mapping, optional side quests, great writing, interesting plot.
This game is a bit like Dante's inferno, but with a more 'modern' take. In particular, there are forces that disbelieve the truth of heaven and hell, and the game doesn't say who's right and who is wrong. As a case in point, one of the first things you see is that hell is closed, due to mythologicalization.
The general gameplay was very enjoyable. It felt like Blue Chairs without the drugs and profanity.
Bad points: trophy-ization of women.
Just like Elysium Enigma with the naked Lena and Blighted Isle with Betty the buxom, All Hope Abandon is chauvinistic. The main woman is referred to frequently as just 'the blonde', and there is a green-skinned demon, who makes you uneasy because they 'use sexuality as a weapon, just like many mortal women'.
It's a shame that these games all pigeonhole women, as otherwise I would strongly recommend them to everyone.
When playing the game I sometimes became stuck. Fortunately, the hint system provided clues to solving the problems without giving them away. The puzzles were interesting, particularly the "final exam" the player must complete.
A working knowledge of theological issues, particularly related to Scripture interpretation, made a difference. Players not familiar with religious terminology might find the game dull.
If you enjoyed All Hope Abandon...
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