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Dead Reckoning [Freeware]

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Andrs Pelez & Nick Montfort



Copyright 2000, Andrs Pelez & Nick Montfort

Dead Reckoning is an excellent text adventure from Spain, superbly translated into English by Nick Montfort. Emily Short’s superb (as usual) review at IF-Review explains why fans of post-mortem or surrealistic games should take a look at this little-known gem from outside the English IF community:

Dead Reckoning is Nick Montfort’s recent translation of Olvido Mortal, a game originally written in Spanish, which garnered several prizes when it was released in that language. There was also an earlier English translation, Shattered Memory, which was entered in IF Comp 2001, but was disqualified for not being entirely original. The story begins with the player in a surreal setting with no memory of his past, and it proceeds from there, obviously, to some revelations about the past; I will try to avoid commenting too much on the premise, because it would be more than usually spoilery to do so.

Several… aspects of Dead Reckoning… made it feel more literary and less game-like than the average work of IF (if there is such a thing): vaguer, or at least less visual, descriptions; emphasis on emotions and memories rather than on physical objects; a shying away from the compass-based map; less manipulation of items and more conversation with characters. Often several exchanges of conversation are presented in a row, and the PC is not allowed to intervene again until a mini-scene has elapsed.

Is “Dead Reckoning” good? I suspect it is one of those works that some people will like and some will loathe. It accomplishes something novel, at least in my own experience of IF; it has some memorable moments; it was frustrating as game, and somewhat more interesting as literature. If I judge it as story rather than as game — expect less puzzly enjoyment from it, and more nuance — I am still a little disappointed. There are some elements that might have evoked a stronger emotional reaction if I had had more time to become invested in them, if the characters had been sketched with more complexity, if the backstory had been delineated in less exaggerated strokes. At times, I was also frustrated because I had figured out more than my PC yet seemed to understand, and I was not allowed to act on that understanding until I had performed all the necessary steps of “figuring out” what was going on. (This is often a problem with IF that turns on PC ignorance; I had similar frustrations about Delusions.) I did like the very end of the game, though, and the atmosphere was nicely controlled throughout. All in all, this is a piece worth trying for those interested in plot-driven IF, and Nick’s new translation goes a long way towards revealing why the Spanish original was so highly regarded in its own community.”

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