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Suspended

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Michael Berlyn

GAME DEVELOPER:Infocom

GAME PUBLISHER:Infocom

Copyright 1983, Infocom

The other “Expert” level sci-fi game from Infocom (the other being Starcross), Suspended is a unique and ambitious text adventure that suffers from an extremely high difficulty level and awkward implementation of simulation-style gameplay.

Infocom introduced many innovations in Suspended. For starters, the premise is highly original: you are an alien frozen in an underground cryogenic chamber that is part of an underground complex that controls the planetary weather control devices. In the event of emergency, your mind (but not your body) is activated in order to coordinate the repair efforts carried out by six robots: Auda, Sensa, Iris, Poet, Whiz, and Waldo. Each robot has different abilities: Auda can hear, Iris can see, Sensa can detect photon emission and ionic charges, Poet can touch, Whiz can connect you to the central library core (a computerized database), and Waldo can manipulate objects. Your job, therefore, is akin to forming a coherent picture of an elephant from 6 blind men who are touching different parts. You have to co-ordinate the robots’ actions and correctly interpret their reports. To help you do this, Suspended comes with a full map of the underground complex and 6 robot markers to help you visualize and plan their moves (incidentally, this was the first Infocom game to include map of game locations; the second and last was Seastalker).

While the unique premise and gameplay will entice you, Suspended‘s puzzles will frustrate you to no end. In many ways, this is the ultimate “save/restore multiple times” kind of game: you simply do not have the foresight of where the robots should be and what they should do, until it is too late. This means the game gives insufficient clues, but also that there are simply too many possible combinations of robots’ actions for you to find the “correct” ones right away. Worse still, the time limit on the game is very strict, so you cannot waste any moves. The game offers 3 levels of difficulty (which I think only changes the time limit), but even at the easiest level you will find yourself restoring often.

All in all, Suspended will appeal the most to fans of “hard” sci-fi who find most Infocom games too easy. The puzzles are very difficult and not altogether fair to the player – Starcross is much better in that regard. Well worth a look, but be prepared for many frustrating sessions with this one.



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