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Luminous Horizons

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs




Copyright 2004, Paul O’Brian

A well-deserved winner of the 10th Interactive Fiction Competition, Luminous Horizons is the closing chapter in Paul O’Brian’s fun Earth and Sky superhero series that began in 2001. The thorough and convincing review at SPAG says it all:

“When Paul O’Brian announced that he wouldn’t be finishing his third episode of Earth And Sky in time for the 2003 competition, I was slightly disappointed. Still, I knew that he would eventually finish. Well, he did, and once again, won the competition. In short, that extra year paid off. I said that part two was great, but part three is even better!

One of the things that I wanted to see in part 3 was more team work. Well, that wish was fulfilled beyond my wildest dreams. In this, the final part of the story, you play both Emily and Austin Colborn. You can
freely switch between controlling one or the other at any time. In fact, it is critical to do this in order to figure out which of them will have the needed super-power to get past whatever is blocking the path. This game is much more tightly timed than parts one or two. This is especially true of the final battle, which is a desperate race against the clock with little room for error. While the game has been designed so that it can’t be put into an unsolvable state, that doesn’t mean you won’t meet a grisly end or fail to stop the bad guys. Most of the time, learning by dying annoys me, but not in this game. It helped to build the tension, and made me feel really proud of myself when I figured out what to do to survive.

This final chapter in the story will bring the player face-to-face with the enemies they learned about in part two, and there will be a few surprises in store as well. Winning was a very satisfying experience indeed. Yet one more feature of this piece of IF is that it actually can show the player one of several different introductions. At the beginning, you can optionally answer some questions about how previous sessions with the other two games in the series turned out, and the introduction will be customized to reflect your answers. In short, nearly everything has been thought of already and taken care of.

Lastly, like the previous two Earth And Sky games, this one is broken up into sections. Each game has used a slightly different method of dividing itself up. Part one used titles like “Suit Yourself,” at the start of each section. Part 2 used quotes from Emily Dickinson which were chosen to fit the situation. Part 3 gives the player a peek at what the villain is up to at the start of each section. This is yet another way of building the suspense up. Even before the game starts becoming tightly timed, I felt like I had to hurry to stop the villain.

So, in short, I can’t say enough good things about this game. It closes out the trilogy in style, and shows that taking the extra time to polish a game is well worth the effort.”

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