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From the Database of Home of the Underdogs




Copyright 2002, Martin Bays

Along with When Help Collides, Constraints is one of my favorite entries in the 2002 IF Competition that in my opinion deserves a much better finish than the relatively low 21st place. As the title suggests, the game is about contraints. Three, to be exact, spread over three puzzle-less and linear short stories. Although some stories are better than others, the game overall is excellent, and succeeds admirably at presenting some of the more interesting issues regarding constraints.

The three stories are unrelated, but share the same situation: all three protagonists you play face constraints in their life, and are struggling to overcome them. The game is very well written, and like Photopia, uses colors quite effectively. One thing I like about the game is that it is thought-provoking not only about real-life constraints, but also about a ‘meta’ level constraints that we, as IF players, face when playing a game. Although it is quite good at anticipating your next moves and giving the appropriate responses, Constraints does not let you deviate from the pre-determined storyline. For example, there is no way to change or extinguish each protagonist’s desires (which would have led to some interesting results, because constraints arguably can only be considered such as long as we desire something). As such, the game itself is a good example of the central theme.

If you enjoy well-written story-driven IF titles, Constraints is well worth your time. It is very well-written, thought-provoking, and quite original as far as the premise goes. Highly recommended.

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