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by Ian Finley

Mystery/Science Fiction

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Number of Ratings: 132
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- Panawe, May 28, 2020

- Artran (Prague, Czech Republic), May 7, 2020

- Ry (Philippines), May 5, 2020

- kierlani, April 29, 2020

- feamir, January 19, 2020

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Classic Second Era., December 8, 2019
by Rovarsson
Related reviews: Horror, Soft SF
Babel. What a game. During my first tentative journeys into IF-land, I stumbled across this deep, dark psychological horrorstory. I recently replayed it and it's still as haunting as it was then.

Do not riff on Babel for using the amnesia-trope. I have seldom seen it used so effectively as a source of suspense in IF. No lazy author here, but a tried and true storytelling technique that takes the reader down into the deep with it. Think Dr. Jeckyl.

Early modern IF that it is, Babel sometimes relies heavily on non-interactive scenes to make sure the player sees the whole story. I don't mind this one bit, I am as much a reader as a player, but I know this bothers some people.

The story is great, albeit not very original in this genre. Well told, well paced. The surroundings are fantastic, I thought. Varied enough to avoid feeling buried in a tunnel, without losing the thrill of the dungeon-feel.

The puzzles are not so hard, as long as you are patient enough to stick to The Adventurers Code: Read! Explore! Examine!

All in all, a true classic of the modern age.

- whjohnson22, August 28, 2019

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Ian Finley changed my (gaming) life, May 12, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)
In 1999 I discovered the IF Archive and the first game I played was not Babel. It was Heist, by Andy Phillips. While I was terrible at it, I was impressed by the parser since the last new text adventure I had played was Bureaucracy. The second game I decided to try was Babel, and I was simply blown away.

The standard criticisms thrown Babel's way are fair. The game uses not one but two sci-fi clichés (amnesia and a doomed Arctic research station). Most of the story is told via flashbacks. The puzzles are mostly perfunctory. The ending is predictable. None of this mattered to me twenty years ago. And I played it again last year and it didn't really matter to me this time either.

Finley is a great writer and accomplished two things here. He was able to develop several multi-dimensional characters (via the flashbacks) and pace the reveals well enough (hence, the perfunctory puzzles) to increase their intrigue. And he also created a tense atmosphere that had me on the edge of my seat as a college freshman. While on my recent playthrough I wasn't quite so moved, I was entertained and once again impressed with the game's breadth and technical strengths.

While it's true that flashbacks are not the strongest storytelling technique, and while it's true that unlocking a bunch of doors is not the strongest use of puzzles , Finley masterfully weaves both facets of his game together, engaging the player in both goals and necessitating the player use one aspect to inform the other. Additionally, the game is so well coded that it's great as an introduction to interactive fiction.

Babel is not my favorite game ever, but probably the one for which I am most fond as it led me to this wonderful community. I even paid to register my game and get the feelies. It's too bad they appear to have been lost to the ether.

- Zape, April 12, 2019

- getlostdont, February 4, 2019

- Stian, January 8, 2019

- mSphix, September 9, 2018

- DustyCypress (Hong Kong), May 19, 2018

- Jan Strach, April 24, 2018

- Stas, April 2, 2018

- Guenni (At home), March 7, 2018

- karlnp (Vancouver, BC), August 22, 2017

- Cory Roush (Ohio), June 21, 2017

- Audiart (Davis, CA), February 26, 2017

- lkdc, February 6, 2017

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Horror story with a sense of urgency and gripping writing, January 17, 2017
by streever (America)
Babel was ahead of its time in 1997, but this work still stands out a decade later.

The prose is crisp and the characters feel authentic and real. The storyline is riddled with tropes and genre conventions--it begins with amnesia--feels compelling and real. Puzzle design aids the writing; puzzles feel believable and natural in the world the author has created.

Most importantly for horror, the horror feels real, too; I had a sense of danger to the protagonist, and a desire to lead him as safely out as I could. The storyline unfolds in a satisfying way, with twists that are never obvious but are predictable for a careful or imaginative reader.

This is a fairly long work that makes extensive use of backstory, but I played it in one setting, unable to stop reading along. With its fair puzzle design, well-written characters, and compelling story, it's a good example of modern IF design, and a highly accessible classic work for people new to Interactive Fiction.

- finnn62, December 13, 2016

- matt_jp (Boston, MA), August 29, 2016

- insufficient data, July 11, 2016

- Denk, May 31, 2016

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