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Memory of a Broken Dimension

by xra

2015

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For a prototype, there sure is a LOT going on here., November 27, 2019
I found out about this parser hybrid on itch.io. Currently, the only version available for play is the in-progress, environmental version as xra is still working on the finished, functional game with a storyline. So, at the moment, "Memory of a Broken Dimension" is just an experiment in build and atmosphere (not that it isn't without any surprises).

With all that, this is an effective prototype that could ostensibly hold up on its own as a functional (albeit abstract, for the lack of a clear storyline) game. Once the element of a plot is added in later on, "Memory of a Broken Dimension" will probably add up to a 5 star winner from me. And... Not just because I enjoyed it according to my personal preferences (how I tend to rate), but in the more critical sense that this game already hits many of the major points for a well made piece.

To IF players who have used an emulator of old software before, such as one needs to play "Leadlight" by Wade Clarke, this game is built to resemble a fictional one. According to the itch.io notes and from everything else I read about this game, this make-believe emulator is meant to run a make-believe recovered satellite log. Categorized (loosely, I think) as horror, this log is corrupted by some malevolent or traumatic force and thus the primary dilemma of the game is born. Of course, the prototype game doesn't build on this much as I suspect that it will be once the storyline is entirely implemented. Still, this premise is rather unique and quite cool.

In terms of structure, this game appears promising. As it stands, the prototype is a type of puzzle, which, once solved, leads the player into a 3D terrain exploring environment. This is the third 3D terrain game I've learned about this year which a person just might categorize as IF, and this game most strongly fits that bill out of the bunch. The terrain element of the prototype stalls once you reach it and the game is more or less over after that point. However, the concept of a finished game which toggles between a parser game and a 3D game at varied points may really work to integrate 3D gaming with Interactive Fiction in a new yet classic sense. Believe me, I'll be keeping tabs on this game to play it once the finished version is released to see if it will live up to my suspicions. If this game turns out to become what I think it may shape up to be, we'll be looking at an IF piece wildly different from the majority of most IF, and I find that exciting.

Lastly, in terms of what to expect when it comes to playing... As I played this game, I felt for the majority of its duration that I was looking at something that I wasn't supposed to be looking at. This effect is intentional, and it works well. The parser is heavily off-kilter from many other parsers and the entire premise of its one and only puzzle at the moment is to discover which commands it will accept. I don't know. The system feels like some arcane... thing... that's both intriguing and unsettling. Additonally, the visuals of the parser alone are incredibly impressive. Past commands that the player enters flicker and change on-screen as if the system is picking them apart and near consciously studying its user as an unwitting subject. Again, while it doesn't build towards anything in the prototype, the overall atmosphere and effect is stronger than those of some established and acclaimed games I've played, and I'm not shouting this out lightly.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this game-in-progress to people who are simply looking for fun IF to play. "Memories of a Broken Dimension" just isn't there yet. But to IF makers and developers, give this a look when you have the chance. Try and find if you can solve the puzzle without looking up hints. Relish in what works here.
Note: this review is based on older version of the game.