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The Light: Shelby's Addendum

by Colm McCarthy

Part of Quest Adventure
Science Fiction
1995

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An early hit that was later forgotten. Huge lab/lighthouse exploration game., February 3, 2016
This long sci-fi game was nominated for the very first XYZZY award for Best Game in 1996. It is a sequel to former games, as far as I can tell.

This game seems to have been forgotten, with only 3 ratings and no reviews on IFDB. It is a very large game, about as long as Spellbreaker.

The plot concerns a young apprentice scientist who isn't doing as good as they should working on scientific research working in a slightly different universe (with a sort of C. E. J. Pacian feel). Many things show up here before other games; you explore a complicated set of labs the year before Babel came out, and you explore a creepy lighthouse two years before Anchorhead.

The tone is mildly dark and mildly humorous. Some parts of the game near the end are pretty silly. I still don't understand (Spoiler - click to show)the transvestite squid and the yellow submarine full of blue rodents. I have no idea why the tone changed so much there.

This is an old-school game, where they were still incorporating Infocom tricks like search-everywhere puzzles and hidden timers that were only designed to increase the length of small-size games. In a large game like this, it is frankly unfair. Many of the puzzles have difficult solutions, and many items are under-implemented.

I loved the story, as much as I understood it. I just took a walkthrough and ran with it.

Comments on this review

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David Welbourn, October 5, 2016 - Reply
Regarding the spoiler part of your review, I think (Spoiler - click to show)the yellow submarine and blue rodents is a reference to the Beatles' Yellow Submarine and the Blue Meanies. I have no explanation for the squid; maybe it's from Fantasia?
Colm McCarthy, June 15, 2017 - Reply
Okay, I think it's coming back to me. The blue meanies reference is definitely correct, and I'm going to take a wild guess that the transvestite squid is a referring to the Divine-like villain from the Little Mermaid (an octopus, I know, but semantics). I'm sure it had something to do with your character hallucinating due to lack of oxygen.

Shelby's Addendum was supposed to be part one in a "The Light" trilogy. It was all about time distortion, so the events in part one actually took place after those in part two (hence the "addendum"). There were lots of deliberate gaps in the storyline. That seemed to confuse a lot of people...but that's what I get for never completing the trilogy.

Part Two was called "The Light: The End of All Things", and began a year or two after the end event of "Shelby's Addendum", before making a beeline into events that took place ten years previously. It focused on how the two scientists (Holcroft and whatever the other guy's name was) discovered a space/time distortion and Holcroft, losing his mind after the death of his wife and trying to use the distortion to reconnect with her, triggered the events that led up to the beginning of "Shelby's Addendum". You played three characters in that - Shelby again, Holcroft, and some government investigator. I had the game mapped out on paper, and had begun to rough out the code (it would essentially reuse the same map from "Shelby's Addendum" - but I got totally sidetracked by life. I started working on a pirate game ("The Singular, and Historically Inaccurate, Misadventures of Nobeard: Would-be Scourge of the Caribbean" - there's a TADS demo somewhere), then we moved to Ireland and I lost all of the paperwork somewhere along the way.

I can't remember what the third one was about. It was going to be called "The Holcroft Covenant". I know Shelby was unstuck in time, and the game would just bounce you all over the place. There were aliens, and Edwardian shipping passengers that were somehow still living in a wreck under the sea. And a government collapse. But alas...

Incidentally, the lighthouse is mapped after Fanad Head Lighthouse in Donegal, Ireland, where my father was the keeper. You can use the game map as an actual map of that lighthouse (within reason, obviously).
Colm McCarthy, September 30, 2015 - Reply
I don't understand the transvestite squid thing, and I wrote the game. Did I really put in a reference to a transvestite squid? I was probably drunk.

I wish I'd gotten around to completing the followup/prequel to this game, as I think it would have helped clarify a lot of what was going on in Shelby's Addendum (hence the addendum part of the title), but alas life got in the way.
MathBrush, September 30, 2015 - Reply
Then you, sir, are a living legend. I am eventually going to put together a list of 'Great forgotten games' with yours on it.

You see the squid when you are in the submarine travelling to the rocks.

Why not do a prequel now? I'd play it. It wouldn't have to be big; Andromeda Dreaming was a great prequel to the other Andromeda games, and it only lasted 15 minutes.
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