Hall of Fame: Inform Games



by Ilya Blokh

"You wake up, in cold sweat, on the floor of a strange white room. As your vision slowly comes back, you realize you're in a cell. You also realize you're bound in a straightjacket."

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Mental is a very clever game about finding your way out of some sort of creepy prison.  The environment is really not like anything I expected.  It is dark, and broken, and since the walls are padded (and since the game is called Mental), I was never sure if something was real, or if I was interpreting something in some strange way due to a mental disorder. 


The setting was superb!  I felt trapped, and scared, and like I needed to find my way out in order to regain my sanity.  I didn’t understand the device, or the “creature” or the hunchback, and I felt lost, even though the environment was only four rooms.  Each room was well connected, and entrances and exits worked perfectly.


The story was very interesting.  It kept me motivated, although somewhat confused.  I found it interesting that nothing was truly revealed in any way, until you won.  There was only one way to win that I could find, and so I had a lot of wandering without much reward, although getting a new item every now and then kept me focus on the goal, and learning more about the story. 


This game was one big puzzle.  You had to escape this creepy prison, and you weren’t sure if you were sane, or what the larger picture was.  Using your own eye and getting a seemingly useless pill kept you guessing at what could work.  The solution to the puzzle became apparent once I tried to touch the wires with rubber (without rubber fries you).  It wasn’t clear that I should take that course of action, and turned out to be rather lucky, although the “eye” clues were pretty interesting.


The experience was great.  I wasn’t ever put off by the story, and in fact the few bits of possible information that I was given kept me motivated.  The lack of a normal world also added to the immersion, because I didn’t have any expectations.  The “hand device” for instance, didn’t have to operate in any specific way in order to keep me interested, because I had no expectations.

I give the game a 4.5 out of five .  There were no bugs or major issues.  The only thing I would change would be some more clues to the story, although the ending was great, and really couldn’t exist the way it did if the player had much more information.  Mental is a very creative game, with plot twists, a solid albeit creepy and odd story, and very interesting characters.  A small setting becomes a home of a challenge and the items and creatures you meet keep you feeling challenged.  Playing this game, I had a lot of fun.



            The story starts with you in a mental ward and everything points to you being literally insane.  I really liked this story because it is very unique and the points that illustrate your lunacy are hilarious.  The point in the story is clear:  to get out of the mental ward.  It is a story-based game with a lot of intriguing narration.  Throughout the game it introduces elements such as a cut off hand, and eyeball, two glowing eyes, and such.  The story itself is what would sell this game.

            The presentation is what kept me involved in the game.  The descriptions of the rooms to the disgusting items that were found made it so interesting.  It reminded me of a text based ‘Silent Hill’ or ‘Resident Evil.’  The game is set so that you solve some puzzles in order to proceed.  Once you find the answer, something shocking usually happens to keep you on your toes.  Although not as frightening as a console or graphics game, this text based game does a produce a fair amount of disgust and fright when you play it.  With the limitations of a text based environment, the author was still able to make a pair of glowing eyes seem scary, and a dark corridor to be somewhere you want to go, yet don’t want to go at the same time.

            The gameplay is executed well for this game.  Verbs that are intuitive to the descriptions usually work right.  The goals within the game are based on the player’s own curiosity, but the author does a good job in making each destination a place that would interest the player.  The opportunities to accomplish these goals might need to be improved.  One instance is after I obtained an item and ate it, the game did not do anything different when it should have.  This is just a small problem though, and would be easily solved. 

The game is primarily based on curiosity and fear.  The technology used to implement this, such as NPC’s and items, were very well done.  The NPC provided a good amount of information, and were interesting to interact with.  The items were descriptive and useful at some point.  The amount of rooms connected to each room was not abundant, so it was not confusing to walk around.  A mental map was very easy to make.  I like how the narration makes each and every item something that you would examine, even if its not important to your task.  The appalling nature of a cut off hand used for a prison switch is just an example of this. 

            I honestly enjoyed this game.  The storyline was very unique and the narration made it fun to hear about.  It also kept me focused on what to do and determined to see what would happen next.  I would definitely recommend this game to someone else and give it 5 out of 5 stars.


Last edited 4/28/03 by RZ
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