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Story File (on author's website)
IFcomp 2015 Release 9
For all systems. To play, you'll need a Z-Machine Interpreter - visit Brass Lantern for download links.
Story File (on IF Archive)
For all systems. To play, you'll need a Z-Machine Interpreter - visit Brass Lantern for download links.
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Final Exam

by Jack Whitham profile

Science Fiction
2015

Web Site

(based on 21 ratings)
4 member reviews

About the Story

Final Exam takes place in the near future after an AI revolution has led to the establishment of a new sort of government. You are seeking a job within this government: your performance in the “final exam” determines the outcome. You wake up on the day of your exam to find that your world has unexpectedly changed. You leave your room to seek answers, and find the Administration Centre deserted...

Game Details

Language: English (en-GB)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Current Version: 9
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 6
Forgiveness Rating: Polite
IFIDs:  5EFA97D5-953A-4403-A6D6-DD0762B8CCBD
ZCODE-1-150928-7C4E
TUID: xmo87hjaydnz52o3

Awards

9th Place - 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2015)

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(3)
4 star:
(8)
3 star:
(8)
2 star:
(2)
1 star:
(0)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Great, short, breezy game., April 12, 2017
I thought this was delightful!

It was not a days-on-end maps and lists matrix kinda game, but it was a fun jaunt.

I'm curious to see if the author has longer games!

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Not a whole lot of fun, but apparently I missed lots of things, November 20, 2015
I didn't find this game very fun, I'm afraid; but I learned later there were a whole lot of secrets, and basically a whole other game, hidden in the game, which I didn't find within the Comp's 2 hours (in fact, I had no idea it even existed). So, take my review with a grain of salt knowing that I might have missed lots of things; on the other hand, I'm sure I'm not the only player that missed all that.

The setting confused me: the idea that (Spoiler - click to show)your face was replaced by a featureless one is creepy and interesting, but the protagonist just shrugs it off. A lot of the rooms are empty, which is guess is meant to provide exposition but it felt like a lot of big empty rooms. And I'm having trouble placing the setting: (Spoiler - click to show)is the 'administration' and their motto/values meant to be commentary or satire? It's hard to know, since it seems close to what most governments do (free speech, laws minimising social unrest). I guess it hints as a role of leader, the Administrator, that you get by... doing a test involving nothing but computers and repairing them? Is this supposed to be commentary on the fact that a state leader doesn't have that much power or just needs to keep the system running? I don't know, maybe I'm overthinking it. (Or maybe I didn't understand what the author meant, what with English not being my native language?)

So I would say it might be a writing issue: the direction to where the setting is going is not very clear, and we don't know what's going on, why, and most importantly why should we care; I was dragging my feet for the most part. (Or, maybe it all makes sense if you find the secrets, I guess). It seemed like the game was (Spoiler - click to show)mixing politics and sci-fi in its setting, so I expected commentary, satire, going a bit further exploring our society or the future and its consequences. But here, it feels like "oh in 5 years a computer will govern us, and you're the janitor". And yeah, the position in which we are as a player is not exciting, so the game isn't exciting: if there's (Spoiler - click to show)a central authority attacked by an enemy with computer viruses, I don't know if I want to plug network cables. And the game seems very, very on-rails for a long while: it's basically "read the orders, do the orders". (But again, maybe that's why I missed the secrets.) It gets more open when you reach (Spoiler - click to show)the caves, but then I didn't really know what to do and kept looking at the walkthrough.

On the other hand I was *really* impressed by the cable that you lay in the cave, and the fact that the game kept track of where you went and laid the cable in all those rooms and in which order. You backtrack and collect the cable, etc -- it seems really hard to implement, and to be honest I'd love to take a look at the source code for that.

Overall it seems like a lot of effort went into making this game (which is why I feel slightly bad that I didn't enjoy it): the game is polished, typo-free, bug-free, with extra responses, and nice hints for players about how to talk to the parser... Props to the genuine effort that was put into it, but I guess I didn't really find it fun.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A game with complex, hidden depths and impressive programming tricks, June 26, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
The biggest achievement of this game is an impeccable rope. Emily Short once described the challenges of programming rope:

"This is one of those things that has received so much attention that it almost seems pointless to recount the variety of the challenges associated therewith. First of all, a rope has two ends, so you have to remember the state of each (and disambiguate between the player's references to them, of course.) Then there's marking what the rope can be tied to; the possibility of cutting the rope in the middle, making multiple ropes of new lengths; the problem of using the rope as a fuse, of tying it to something in one room and then carrying the other end, of tying the ends together, etc., etc., etc. Ultimately I think the very trickiest part of all this is the disambiguation problem, ie, figuring out exactly what the player means when he says >TIE ROPE TO X (which end? Do we untie something that's already tied, if both ends are in use?) But it's all pretty grotesque, frankly."

All of this is handled in this game except for fire.

Basically, you wake up for an exam in a simulated world, but everything is strange. You have to enter a robot's body and do some odd IP-address voodoo to fix everything.

This involves finding cables, which you can combine or cut, and which trail from room to room.

There is a secret path (kicked off by (Spoiler - click to show)looking at yourself). Fun game!

I just felt a bit of an emotional barrier between me and the game, which makes sense, as you are a robot.

See All 4 Member Reviews

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Polls

The following polls include votes for Final Exam:

Misunderstood games by MathBrush
I'm interested in games where the reviewers 'just don't get it', where part of the game that is essential or hidden got overlooked. I'm thinking of Scary House Amulet as a prime example, where a solid parody game is passed off as poorly...

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This is version 9 of this page, edited by Zape on 18 June 2020 at 6:24pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item