#87 A Mind Forever Voyaging

Posted: 24th July 2019 by Jeroen in Games
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801st played so far

Genre: Interactive Fiction
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1985
Developer: Infocom
Publisher: Infocom

To kick off the next fifty and hundred, we go to an Infocom adventure. Not quite an indie – I’m starting to run light on those anyway – but these Infocom adventures do stand out, and A Mind Forever Voyaging is special even there in how it isn’t a standard Infocom adventure, but instead an exploration of a cities throughout the years. It osunds different.

Our Thoughts

Most games like this drop you in a world and give you the option to explore and solve puzzles inside it – a story playing out around that you drive by your actions, giving you something to do to move along. We’ve seen some exceptions – Thirty Flights of Loving took you through brief moments of story, but mostly have you walk from place to place, while Facade puts you in a room with a couple that argues, with a history. A Mind Forever Voyaging goes further down that path. In the first part of the game, as you learn not just the controls, but the world you go into – finding your house, museums and other important places in the later story. While you take some actions – unlocking doors and buying newspapers – throughout you’re really just observing, figuring out how the world operates and what happens with it.

Once you finish your todo list and have seen a lot of the world, the game really unleashes. The simulation you’re in advances by ten years, calculating what the results are of the plans the government want to put in place. As you progress through the years, you gather evidence of why this doesn’t work – showing a troubled, dystopic future that slowly gets worse. There’s a bit of a personal storyline there – or rather the persona you as an AI inhabit – but again you stay an observer, slowly seeing how everything gets worse. There’s a final chapter that has you stop the plot, but that’s more of a satisfying button than the meat of the game.

The game is big and deep when it comes to that. The systems your AI use are well detailed, and there is more going on in the world than you see during a single playthrough (or at least need to). It’s different from what happens normally and a way of exploring a world that I don’t feel really gets explored until more games decades later. It may sound boring, but this is well worth a playthrough.