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Book and Volume

by Nick Montfort

Science Fiction

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Number of Reviews: 5
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1-5 of 5

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A strange cybertopia with a big map and lots of tasks, February 3, 2016
You are a computer repairman in this game, set in a big city with dozens of buildings and a time-date system.

You are assigned various tasks, such as resetting servers or helping people with passwords. As you do so, you immediately see that the city is bizarre and strange.

If you follow your instructions to the later, you have a good chance of finding something unusual, getting pretty far, and getting stuck. To finish the game, there are 2 or 3 nondescript places you should visit, as indicated in the 'spoiler' version of the map.

There is a club floyd transcript of this game, if that helps.

Odd game, something like A Mind Forever Voyaging mixed with an Andrew Schultz game.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Nondescript plot but vivid setting, December 26, 2012
by Andromache (Hawaii)
I dithered about trying this based on the reviews already here, but it's really not as difficult as some say. Yes, I had to restart a few times. Maybe the parser was a little annoying at times if you didn't break up actions sufficiently. Sure, some tasks are timed. But these things turned out to not be frustrating enough to quit playing. I made it to the end once already, and am in the course of playing again to try to solve one puzzle I'm stuck on.

The thing is, the timing is not really cruel. You have more than adequate time to get the job done. Should the game end prematurely, you learn over the course of playing what things will be required in the future and can plan better. Easy enough to save after completing each task as well. And I found the puzzles to be plausible and pretty consistent. (Spoiler - click to show)I got a Jedi mind trick reference. That had me laughing aloud, since I love Star Wars.

Many of the places are there just for realism and you don't really have to do anything with them. I liked the atmosphere they added to the setting.

So why not give this a higher rating? Well, the prose was not always to my taste. The timed nature of the game marred the fun of examining and exploring. Looking at things yielded bland descriptions, sometimes the same as the room description. Some actions you think you should do based on game happenings actually are dead ends. And perhaps worst of all, I just don't care much about the player character or his predicament. Perhaps you're not meant to. The sterile feel of the environment invokes memories of books like 1984 or The Giver, which is creepy in a psychological way.

The game is gentle enough not to anger me, and many of my objections are just aesthetic and subjective, but still enough to make a short diversion a bit tedious to have to repeat more than a few times.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A Mind Still Voyaging, March 19, 2012
by Jonathan Blask (Milwaukee, WI, USA)
It is easy for me to put down a game after reading its intro, especially if it seems like the game is going to require an above-average amount of concentration. There was something about Nick Montfortís Book and Volume that met this requirement. In retrospect, I have no idea what prompted this reaction. Just the same, it wasnít until years later, when ClubFloyd got around to playing it, that I found out that was a big mistake. This is a very fun game.

Whatever worries I had going in were unfounded. If I had thought the game seemed gadget-heavy, everything is pretty easy to use. If the tech-guy-working-for-generic-yet-weirdly-named-tech-company premise worried me, BnV doesnít use that as a passport to a bland, old school adventure (as some games have). If the early prospect of street mapping worried me, mapping isnít necessary but becomes quite enjoyable once one gets far enough into the game and really wants to know the city.

And yes, I did say ďstreet mapping.Ē The city feel is very much like one gets while wandering Rockvil in A Mind Forever Voyaging. BnVís city is a bit smaller, and all of the main streets keep to a clean grid design, with only the occasional diagonal shortcut between blocks.

In fact, while the overall plot is nothing alike, Iíd say playing BnV is the closest anyone is going to get to feeling like he or she is playing a new AMFV. Exploring and getting to know the city is its own reward. In fact, there are several off-the-beaten-main-quest-path things to do in the game that are fun to play with.

Some objects arenít entirely clear. For instance, there are several kiosks in the game, and I donít think it is adequately conveyed that they are electronic kiosks that need to be >TOUCHed. Also, there are sometimes enlightening responses hidden in somewhat inane actions, which is a little unfair to players who donít happen upon them.

Plot-wise, I donít want to say too much, for fear of spoiling anything, but the writing is good and itís a nice ride. Even at its fullest disclosure, BnVís plot and motivations are intentionally mysterious, which suits me fine. As it is, it gives BnV the feeling that the game world has more stories to be told and even more mysteries to unleash, if only in the playerís mind.

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
A game I hate forms a nostalgic memory I treasure., April 9, 2010
by Danielle (The Wild West)
This isn't a review. I really didn't like this game. I found it obtuse, confusing, weird, impossible.

But the ending has given me an experience I will cherish forever.

Back in college, my friend and I played a lot of IF together. This was one of the games we played, and it holds a special memory for us.

We had no idea what we were doing. We started off without a map ("We don't need no steeekin' map!!" is our philosophy for most IF) and got lost a lot. Then, after a certain point (Spoiler - click to show)the city blew up and we were inside the city and we died. And it felt pointless.

So we downloaded a map and a walkthrough. We did what the walkthrough told us. We discovered the (Spoiler - click to show)what, conspiracy theory? and (Spoiler - click to show)escaped the city.

What happened next is sort of remarkable and nostalgic for me. This shared experience has become a joke between us, much like how "The cake is a lie" is a shared joke for all players of PORTAL. However, it does kinda spoil the ending so... (Spoiler - click to show)We quietly escaped the city. We met a man there who was very zen. The city blew up. Then the man asked if we wanted to go get a Blizzard.

My friend and I looked at each other, went "??! What the heck was that about?" And then (Spoiler - click to show)we went straight to Dairy Queen.

Basically the author made the perfect frozen yogurt commercial for intellectuals.

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
I want to like it, but.., July 11, 2008
by Ron Newcomb (Seattle)
Book and Volume is something of a throwback. The writing will please modern audiences; subtle humor that pokes fun at real-world institutions, stereotypes, and cultural flotsam abound. But the gameplay is something out of Zork. Overlapping timed puzzles are used as a blunt pacing device, on the order of "do your things in a timely manner or start over." Many required actions aren't clued at all, so satisfying those timers is near impossible on the first playthrough or three. And while the geography is a perfect city grid well-presented with the game's subtle humor, most of it is a distraction. The plot seems pretty minimal. Perhaps further into the work things improve, but I have not the patience or prescience to get there. That's a shame, because it is otherwise worth playing.

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