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About the StoryThere's something down there in the ocean, something terrifying. And you have to face it - because only you can save the Aquadome, the world's first undersea research station.
The alarm sounds and your submarine, the Scimitar, is docked nearby. But not so fast - you haven't even tested the Scimitar in deep water, and the crew at the Aquadome may have a traitor in its ranks. So be careful! You have many possibilities to consider, mysteries to unravel and life-and-death decisions to make!
Success won't come easily. It may not come at all - because, if you challenge the deep without using all your wits, you just might wind up as shark bait!
One of the authors has ghostwritten books for the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Tom Swift series, and the writing style carries over very well. The game has the same oh-my-gosh-golly sense of adventure that those books have. This is not a criticism, I read and enjoyed the Hardy Boys as a child, but it has a mixed effect on the ratings, causing the atmosphere rating to go up a bit, but the plot rating to go correspondingly down, as I had read so many of these books that the plot seemed rather routine and predictable.
-- Graeme Cree
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Well, still some, because there is a time limit, which can surprise the unwary interactor. But in general the puzzles will not be much trouble for the veteran IF player, and most of them are clearly hinted by either the game or the documentation. Additionally, I hit a show stopping bug once; but it turned out that I was playing version 86, which is apparently a beta version. (What is that doing in the wild?) I will assume for this review that the real game is bug free.
The plot of the game is functional: you are a young inventor who is into submarines, and you have to save an underwater research station from a huge fish. There are some twists, and the story does manage to keep one's attention and put one into perilous situations of different kinds. Unfortunately, the characterisation and writing are very bland. I would have preferred even the cruel humour of Zork to this nondescriptness.
In terms of gameplay, some good things are done here: the submarine scenes are novel and fun (though probably long enough); the freedom in the Aquadome is also refreshing. On the bad side, some of the "puzzles" are so obviously hinted, with characters simply telling you what to do, that you don't feel in charge. This would seem to underestimate the children for whom the game is meant: surely one should design appropriate puzzles, rather than design puzzles that are too difficult and then remove the puzzle-element?
But the worst thing about the game, apart from the bland writing, is its use of feelies. In a design choice that is either incredibly stupid or a copy-protection scheme gone horribly wrong, you constantly have to read descriptions, commands, and maps from the feelies. This is very irritating. It works for the map of Frobton Bay, where having to consult a map is diegetic and even fun, but it doesn't work in the rest of the game. Examining a person and then having to read the description in the manual is simply stupid.
So -- not really recommended. Unless you wish to finish your first Infocom game, in which case I can tell you that with this game, it is possible!
(Spoiler - click to show)there was some sort of black box I didn't fix that lead a monster to the base. So that made me lose interest, until I went through with a walkthrough.
The game comes with some hint cards that are missing some information. When the time comes in the game, the game itself will fill in the blanks in the hint cards.
There are some tricky parts to the game like using sonar to pilot a sub, and the endgame, but over all it was pretty fun.
Note: The GO TO command makes this game MUCH more enjoyable.
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