in 1984 by Interplay Productions and released by Activision,
Mindshadow may or may not have made a splash on the text adventure
with graphics scene of the time. For 1984, it may or may not have
graphics that were ahead of its time. Comparing it to the one other
game I've played so far, Emerald Isle, from 1982, the graphics were
literally light years ahead of its time. Did I use literally right
there? Or was I using literally the way most people use literally to
mean 'exaggerated beyond belief but I'll stick literal in there to
make it seem even more exaggerated by pretending that the
exaggeration is pretty close to the mark'?
If you compare Mindshadow to an Infocom game, it's
really, really, really sub-par. The game relies on the tried and
true amnesia plot device that works well with second person
perspective because they don't have to clue you in on your entire
past. It's easier to write a game when the protagonist doesn't have
any bothersome memories to muddy up the story line or to add extra
bytes to the memory of the game by having him recount memories of
his own. So that seemed kind of lazy. Did that sentence seem kind of
lazy for a game review? Maybe I should liven it up like a sports
announcer! This GAME was like a crack addict who OD'd! LAZY!
By the way, Mindshadow is a Text Adventure with
Graphics, if I didn't make that clear. What that means is that you
traverse a world by reading text and then by typing in actions for
the main character to do. Most of these actions end up being compass
directions or take and drop. The graphics have been added to make
people with short attention spans feel like they're actually playing
a game instead of just reading a stupid book. I don't think the
graphics in Mindshadow ever helped me actually solve a puzzle.
Speaking of puzzles, not very many exist in
Mindshadow. The majority of the game is spent finding objects and
usually dropping or using them in the right place at the right time
or using force to get what you want. You won't need any real
knowledge of the world to solve any of these problems except maybe
how to make fire but most people learn that when they watch
Survivor. I'm not sure how the people of 1984 knew how to solve that
[SPOILER] The toughest part of the game was
realizing that you had to think about things to win it. After
progressing through the main storyline, I wandered around Luxembourg
and London trying to figure out what was left to be done. I
eventually stumbled upon THINK LUXEMBOURG and it all sort of came
together. [END SPOILER] I imagine that part of the adventure created
all of the extra playing hours to make people feel like they got
their $40 out of this game back in 1984. And it probably really cost
$40. Which is why I recommend all kids today play this game. Play it
and realize that your parents were paying nearly the same amount of
money you paid to play Halo Reach and all they got for their cash
was a bunch of crappily drawn locations and poorly thought out
puzzles to solve.
Overall Puzzle Review
I shouldn't even call this section a Puzzle Review
since none of the puzzles in this game were particularly puzzlish.
Most of the game revolved around finding new locations (never
difficult) and figuring out what objects can be taken from the new
area. So there is a ship. The puzzle is you need to take some steel
from it. There is a hut where you need to take some straw. There is
a cave where you need to take a rock. There is a mess hall where you
need to take a cleaver. There is a life raft where you need to take
I don't think it actually qualifies as a puzzle if
you pick up an object that wasn't easily identifiable and then use
it later to get past an obstacle you couldn't get past until you had
the right object.
The main puzzles in London really would only be
unsolvable if you decided your no-memory character wasn't a big
jerky thief! Once you steal the hat and the money from the sleeping
guy, you can just buy everything else you need. Except for the hat
puzzle which the game basically walks you through anyway. Hmm, I
have a hat. What should I do with it? Oh hey! A hat check! Duh!
The puzzle in Rick's Cafe where you have to follow
the little man might stall some people if they've never seen a spy
movie. That bathroom must be the hardest bathroom to find in any
restaurant ever since no compass direction leads to it. The only way
to find it is to follow the little man in!
But my favorite moment is when you get to shoot
Jared while he's trying to sleep. How is that a defendable action?
Oh, well, sure! He shoots you in a different time-line if you don't
kill him first. But in the time-line where you kill him first, you
aren't justified! It's not like he ever pulls the gun on you. Or
threatens you in any way! It's pretty cool that when you recover
your memory, you realize you're a big shot rich guy whose money can
keep him out of prison for all of the horrible things he's done!