C&VG


A Mind Forever Voyaging
By Infocom
Amiga 500

 
Published in Computer & Video Games #59

A Mind Forever Voyaging

Written in Infocom's Interactive Fiction Plus system, it should be noted that this game is not available for the full range of machines normally supported by Infocom. A Mind Forever Voyaging was the first production in this format, and preceded Trinity, reviewed the last issue.

Quite a different game from the usual type of adventure, even for Infocom, you play the part of Prism, the world's first thinking computer. As such, you are not normally able to move around and do the sort of physical things usual in an adventure. But more of that later.

Set in 2031, with the world on the brink of chaos, USNA, the United States of North America is threatened with being turned into a giant police state. This is due to East/West missile defence systems being in balance - attention has been turned to miniaturisation of nuclear weapons into cigarette-pack sized devices which can be smuggled right into the heart of a city.

A Mind Forever Voyaging

Crime and urban decay are rampant. Schools are violent, and ill-suited to education. So what's new? Sounds just like Thatcher's Britain.

But there is a Plan - the Plan for PLAN.ELEMENTS and RYDER.SPEECHES.

The current file can be read, or the next on the list selected for reading. The library files contain a lot of background information, and much of the game consists of retrieving and absorbing information, rather than solving puzzles.

A Mind Forever Voyaging

Interface Mode gives you the capabililty to control external devices. By this means you can reschedule the rush hour traffic period, shut down the heating and ventilation in the building, or change the janitor schedules.

Initially, at least, Simulation Mode is the most important, for one or your first tasks is to record some simulated real-life experiences, for analysis against the background of the validity of the plan.

Simulation operates in 'true' adventure mode, and whilst in simulation you are asked to record experiences such as: visiting a movie, attending a court in session, visiting your apartment, speaking to a church official, and so on.

The simultation takes place in Rockvil, South Dakota, and the tourist pamphlet-map of the town provided will help you find your way around. This does not give a detailed picture of the places you can visit, but is very handy for getting your bearings, and deciding the most likely areas to go visit, to record your assigned Renewed National Purpose, Senator Richard Ryder's pet project. It is pretty drastic. It must be tested for validity before it can be put into effect. And that's your job, as a computer!

Among other things, the plan calls for: Tax cuts of 50%; Deregulation of major industries; Termination of aid to nations not pro-USNA; Termination of government aid to outmoded industries; Emphasis of fundamental and traditional values in education; Mandatory conscription for troublemakers and criminals.

As Prism, there are a number of different modes in which you can operate. Starting out in Communication Mode, by a simple code you can access any of the audio and visual sensor units installed in the building, including those at the office of Perelman, your 'boss'. Perelman it is who is conducting the experiment to test the Plan. A flavour of the kind of world of the day can be gained by accessing WNNF, World News Network Feed. The flow of non-stop sport scores, news and advertisements is seemingly endless.

Library Mode realistically simulates access to a series of computer files. To read a file, you must first open the appropriate directory. The directory for PLAN.DATA, for example, contains files named PLAN.CRITICISMS, PLAN.POPULARITY, encounters.

Once your recordings have been analysed and found to be good, part one of the game ends and you enter part two.

Colour is an option on the PC, and if selected, comes up as a pale blue header band with black text, and a royal blue screen.

I also tried the diskette on a PC XT, but found that even though it was write-protected when installed on the AT, it would not run on the XT. I queried this with Alison Hale of Activision, but she was unable to throw any light on the problem.

A Mind Forever Voyaging comes in the standard Infocom packaging, with high quality glossy magazine-style instructions and background stapled into the box, the Rockvil plan, the security disk, and a genuine cheapo ball-point pen advertising Quad Mutual Insurance, as well as the disk and operating instructions for the appropriate computer.

It is an enormous game, with a vast amount of text, and gives you the distinct impression that with A Mind Forever Voyaging, your mind can, indeed, voyage forever.