Game Review: Deadline (1982, Infocom)


Wealthy industrialist Marshall Robner has been found dead in his study, with the door locked.  The autopsy says that he died of an overdose of antidepressants.  Was it suicide or was it murder?  And, if it was murder, who was responsible?  That’s the mystery that you’ve been given a limited amount of time to solve.

In Deadline, you play a police detective who has 12 hours to investigate and solve the mystery behind the death of Marshall Robson.  The game starts with your arrival at the sprawling Robner estate.  Do you immediately start interviewing the suspects or do you look for clues around the grounds?  Do you attend the reading of Robner’s will or do you search the study where he died?  It’s up to you but just remember that the clock is ticking!

Written by Marc Blank and released by Infocom, Deadline is a classic text adventure from 1982.  From the minute, you enter the Robner estate, you are interacting with suspects like Robner’s adulterous wife and his irresponsible son.  Their actions and their responses to your questions are determined by how you go about investigating the crime and one of the joys of the game is seeing how people react to different approaches.  (When it comes time to read Robner’s will, one character will either show up early or late, depending on whether or not you’ve shown them a key piece of evidence.)

The mystery is complex.  I played through the game a handful of times before realizing that one thing that I felt was very important was actually just a red herring.  The mystery can be solved but you’re going to have to play the game several times and experiment with being in different places at different times and showing different clues to different suspects.  Or you can just type “Deadline Walk-Through” into Google like I eventually did.

Like many other good games from the past, Deadline can currently be found in the Internet Archive.

RAMPAGE – Review by Case Wright, ALT Title – The Video Game Movie Curse Is Broken by Dwayne’s Awesome Arms!


Rampage-Movie-

I thoroughly enjoyed this film!! Why? Because it’s a Dwayne Johnson movie.  He’s an actor, a brand, and you know what you’re going to get.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Did it have a couple of slow moments?  Yep.  Were the characters, especially the villains, one dimensional or 8-Bit?  Sure.  But, so what? Rampage is fun and sometimes it’s great to take a bath in nostalgia and see some shit blow up.

A Dwayne Johnson movie is really a sub-genre all its very own.  I won’t compare it to other movies.  His movies are also fun because we just like Dwayne Johnson so much as a Man that we feel like he’s a friend.  It becomes reflexive that we hear Dwayne Johnson has a movie out, it’s as if one of our friends just made one.  I told a guy at work that I was going to see a Dwayne Johnson movie, he knew exactly what I meant, and he referred to Dwayne Johnson as a National Treasure.  Yes, we’re now getting married in the fall and are registered at Pottery Barn.

I played Rampage when I was a wee bairn.  In fact, with the help of my friend Robbie, we stayed up all night and destroyed the whole country. Congratulations! I, like every boy in the Y-Generation, was excited for this film.  Sidenote: sorry everyone, Millenials are no more, you’ve been folded into Y, but take heart – “Even children get older, I’m gettin older …too.”

An Evil Corporation, run ostensibly by Ivanka Trump and her Generic Trump brother, create a virus that mutate ordinary animals into genetically spliced super-creatures that run amok.  That’s it- that’s the plot- and like the video game upon which it was based, Rampage the Film is beautifully Wabi Sabi.

The film begins with The Rock who is closed off from people because after seeing their terrible acts in war and poaching, he just can’t let them in. *sniff*  The Rock’s best friend is George- an albino gorilla- who can sign.  Soon, the Trump family look alikes’ experiment accidentally infects George, a wolf, a crocodile, and a partridge in a pear tree. The Partridge Monster doesn’t actually destroy anything, but he blatantly re-gifts Christmas presents; therefore, he’s the worst monster of all because he destroys your self-esteem.

George, the wolf, and crocodile get BIGGER, the government – embodied by Jeffrey Dean Morgan- try to stop the monsters, but can’t.  Jeffrey becomes an ally of The Rock, helping him along the way with helicopter keys, air strikes, and lending him his edger so The Rock can really make his lawn POP for barbecue season.  The Trumps put out a signal to draw the monsters to Chicago, hoping they’ll kill each other off.  The Trumps hope that they’ll be able to take a sample of the monster flesh, replicate it, and sell it to whomever.  It doesn’t go well.  The monsters go nuts.  I’m not going to spoil anything.  Needless to say, the last 40 minutes of the film are amazingly satisfying.

Congratulations! Dwayne you’ve done it! The Video Game Curse is Broken.

 

Jedadiah Leland’s Horrorfic Adventures In The Internet Archive #28: Stephen King’s The Mist (1985, Angelsoft, Inc)


For my final horrific adventure of the month, I returned to the Internet Archive and I played Stephen King’s The Mist (1985, Angelsoft, Inc.)

The Mist is a text adventure based on Stephen King’s novella.  (The game came out before both the television series and Frank Darabont’s film version.)  You are at the supermarket, just trying to buy your groceries and get home, when suddenly a thick mist envelopes the entire town.  There are monsters in the mist and you soon discover that there are monsters in the store as well.  Can you survive the mist and make your way back to your home where, hopefully, your son is still alive and waiting for you to rescue him?

The Mist does a good job of turning King’s story into a work of interactive fiction.  Even if you have read the story or watched the movie, The Mist is still not an easy game.  This is a game where it is very easy to get killed and there’s one puzzle where, due to randomization, you can do everything right and still end up dying.  It is unfortunate that you cannot save games while playing them in the Internet Archive because The Mist is a game that can only be won through trial and error.

The best advice that I can give is don’t spend too much time in the supermarket, pick up everything that you can, and don’t shoot Mrs. Carmody, as much as you may want to.

Of course, you can just play the game with a walkthrough, like I did.

 

Jedadiah Leland’s Horrific Adventures Online #27: Bitten By A Werewolf (2013)


For my next adventure, I played Bitten By A Werewolf (2013).

Bitten By A Werewolf is a choose-your-own-adventure style Twine game.  This is the first thing you see:

I don’t want to be too hard on Bitten By A Werewolf because, having played it, I get the feeling that it was written either by a kid or by someone still learning how to write in English.  The game’s text regularly switches back from first to third person, sometimes in the same sentence.

The figure in the woods is a werewolf.  You can run but don’t expect to avoid getting bitten.  You can also stop long enough to try to help one of your friends climb out of a ravine but don’t expect it to go well.

The most interesting thing about Bitten By A Werewolf is discovering all the ways to die.  Here are a few examples:

When it comes to getting bitten by a werewolf, the best advice is not to get bitten in the first place.  Remember that the next time you’re in the woods and tempted to chase every strange figure you see.

 

Jedadiah Leland’s Horrific Adventures Online #26: My Evil Twin (2015, Carl Muckenhoupt)


For my next horrific adventure, I played My Evil Twin (2015, Carl Muckenhoupt).

This is a short and clever game about you and your evil twin.  You have just pulled an all-nighter and you may want to sleep but you know you can’t.  Your evil twin is out there, doing evil things.  Not only did he mess up the neighbor’s lawn but he also set up a mind control device in the park.  Can you figure out how to enter his secret lair and stop him?

My Evil Twin is based on the They Might Be Giants song.  How easy the puzzles are to solve will depend on how much you know about the band’s history.  I had to resort to Google to solve one puzzle because it required knowing a certain obscure piece of TMG trivia that was not hidden anywhere in the game.  Other than that, I liked My Evil Twin.  It was short, to the point, and I enjoyed reading about all the terrible things that my twin did whenever I was not around.

Jedadiah Leland’s Horrific Adventures Online #25: Don’t Go In The Old Greene House (2015, Laura Knetzger)


For my next horrific adventure online, I played Don’t Go In The Old Green House (2015, Laura Knetzger).

Don’t Go In The Old Greene House is another Twine Choose Your Own Adventure type of game.  You have been dared to spend all of Halloween night in the old Greene House, which is said to be haunted.  You agree because you know better than to turn down a dare.  Exploring the house means running into mysterious spirits.  Here’s something that I learned the hard way: Be nice to the little girl at the table.  I know that one of the fun things about interactive fiction is that you get to do things that you would never do in real life but, no matter how tempted you may be, do not tell the girl at the table to stop crying and fuck off.  Bad things will happen.

Twine games are always a mixed bag for me.  I enjoy the simple format but, as opposed to games made with Inform or TADS, they can leave you feeling more like a reader than an active participant in the game.  Don’t Go In the Greene House is an example of a good Twine game, well-written and with enough different outcomes that it is actually worth replaying.

Jedadiah Leland’s Horrific Advenures Online #24: Faithful Companion (2013, Matt Weiner)


Since I was running out of horror games to play in the Internet Archive, I decided to broaden my sights by exploring the Interactive Fiction Database.  That is where I found Faithful Companion (2013, Matt Weiner).

Faithful Companion is simply but difficult.  You are at the cemetery, visiting the mausoleum.  You want to get in the crypt.  Opening the doors that lead into the crypt should be easy except you are being followed by a ghost.  Any action you take will be duplicated by the ghost two turns later.

That may not sound like a big deal until you learn that, if the ghost touches you, you will pass out.  If you take something and are still holding it two turns later, that means the ghost will take it from you.  If you have to open a door by pushing three latches so that they open, the ghost will follow behind you, pushing the latches closed.  The game’s challenge comes from fooling the ghost into helping you accomplish what you want to do.

I enjoyed this game.  It is short, it is not impossibly hard, and it’s rewarding when you actually figure it all out.