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by David Welbourn

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The Cabal

by Stephen Bond profile


(based on 24 ratings)
5 member reviews

About the Story

In this satire, you play as a young American man who loves old puzzle-based IF. You are also racist, sexist, and prone to believe in conspiracies. While playing Infidel, you learn that a secret society called the Cabal is behind the trend to make IF more story-based and a lot less fun. Learn who's in the Cabal and stop their evil schemes!

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: 3
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 6
Baf's Guide ID: 2294
IFID: ZCODE-3-041127-3315
TUID: i8rgwxt2m2nf8fco


Nominee, Best Story - 2004 XYZZY Awards

Editorial Reviews

Healthy Paranoia
"The Cabal is a hilarious and highly polished game, one that should be played by anybody who has more than a passing interest in interactive fiction." (Greg Boettcher)
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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Ages badly, December 23, 2007
This game has a lot going for it in respect of craft: it's well-written by someone with a keen sense of humor; the characterizations are often amusing; though the game is quite linear, the pacing works pretty well and I rarely felt bored.

The problem with it is its huge self-indulgence. This is a work, now several years old, about contemporary rec.arts.int-fiction politics. It is peppered with endless references to newsgroup personalities and squabbles that people outside the IF community are unlikely to understand, and even for those of us who were around at the time, it ages badly. A few years down the line, it's likely to need a critical commentary to make sense.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
No LaRouches? Author, I am disappointed., June 17, 2014
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
I don't have a ton of conspiracy theories, myself, but for so long, I was simply unable to tell theorists to stop with that nonsense, already, whether it was about workplace, classroom or global politics. It's so tempting to listen, because that stuff's imaginative if you haven't heard it, yet it dies out.

Fortunately, conspiracy theory is fertile ground for satire, and The Cabal hits a lot of good points. It collapses several favorite political theories, places and lore into being about text adventures. This highlighted, to me, how conspiracy theorists like the me-me-me angle while really it's just more about an uncaring world and people willing to accept how things are to get by.

There's only one potentially vicious part. Though most characterizations are clear jokes, one personality is depicted as living at Ruby Ridge, which left me uncomfortable enough to look for an explanation. I got one here--well, at an archive.org copy of it--and was impressed. The essay's worth it even if it's a necessary distraction from an otherwise free-flowing game, because it hits on conspiracy theories some writers have when really it's about laziness or time limitation. It's also nice to have conspiracy literature that actually cleans things up.

I found the puzzles worked as conspiracy debunkers by giving you the opportunity to go off on useless tangents. So many of them (Spoiler - click to show)give the solution up front, then provide absorbing writing so it's possible to get caught up in details that utterly don't matter. The final maze is particularly funny, as (Spoiler - click to show)the game seems far more likely to trap you if you map it by UNDOing.

The author did the right thing by throwing a large chunk of this work into multiple-choice conversation. It establishes the character-player as someone with bizarre thoughts but never really kicks him--it's more about outlining your basic conspiracy theory fallacies. It's good for a thoughtful laugh, even for someone who wasn't present when the game was released.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Went over my head, December 25, 2012
by Andromache (Hawaii)
There were times during Cabal that I laughed aloud, and the irony of the player character investigating conspiracy theories while being the very thing he was hunting was not lost on me. I appreciated that I was able to enjoy the narrative and not get bogged down by puzzles. Honestly, I wouldn't even call them puzzles. They have the veneer of puzzles, but solutions are clear and obvious if you pay attention to the writing and you're basically told what to do. (Spoiler - click to show)The twisty maze was familiar and evoked prior memories of torment. It was fitting it was part of the new Archive somehow. And the elevator puzzle, the only true one, was actually pretty intuitive after a few rounds of getting slapped. Heh. The ending didn't surprise me much. (Spoiler - click to show)You're clued early on that the player character is a bit strange, maybe not all there. The narrative is well done, and despite personally not liking the PC much, the story was short enough and the game easy enough that I was able to finish it with little effort. Parsing was excellent. No errors about not understanding what I wanted, even if the game is conversation-based for the most part. I even got the game and author references, though not the politics. Being someone who favors modern IF and IF as art form and narrative, I had a hard time getting into the mindset of the player character.

I would not replay this game. It was well-implemented, characters were stock and more plot device, but while I am enough of an IF gamer that I understood what was meant by story-based versus puzzle-based, I am not enough of an insider to appreciate the inspiration for this game and what it's poking fun at. The tie-ins with real-world conspiracy organizations helped to understand the story, but if there are any Freemasons, etc, they probably shouldn't play this. I know of RAIF, RGIF, etc, but I think this game appeals only to a small group of IF authors/players. Perhaps I could have rated the game higher if I were part of the "Cabal." :)

See All 5 Member Reviews

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