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The Infocom Project: Trinity

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gdunbar

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Time to dip my toes back into the Infocom river. You can read the introduction to my attempt to play all of the Infocom games here: https://www.gamedev.net/blog/717/entry-2259971-the-infocom-project/

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This time I played Trinity, a game held up by many Infocom aficionados as the best of their output; a great game that also stands up as a meaningful piece of literature. Jimmy Maher has a long series of posts here:
http://www.filfre.net/2015/01/trinity/, chock full of both informative atom bomb and Cold war history, and analysis of the game itself.

In my playthrough, I experienced:

The good:

  • The puzzles are generally very good in this game. Logical (within the constraints of the world), neither trivial nor too difficult/obscure, original... this late era Infocom game shows that Infocom had really mastered the craft of their puzzle-based gameplay.
  • Original and interesting theme; maybe it's because I was born in 1970, but I enjoy a Cold War story as much as the next guy. There is also an Alice-In-Wonderland sub-theme, which sounds strange, but works well enough in the context of the story-telling.
  • The areas were well-described and fleshed at, and synchronized with the documentation in such a way that I really got a good picture of the scenes, locations, and events that I was experiencing.


    The bad:

    • Perhaps the puzzle-based text adventure just doesn't work for me in exploring subjects of tough moral questions, but I didn't find the game profound in the least (directly in opposition to many other reviewers). Rather, it felt like the game took me through a bunch of light vignettes with a Cold War/atomic weapon theme, completely failing to draw me into any of the quandaries and philosophical morasses involved. There are many interesting questions that could be asked about the development and application of nuclear weapon technology, but I didn't feel like the game really asked me confront them at all, instead, confronting me with set of more standard text adventure puzzles ("How do I get the foo in order to baz the bar?"). That left the theme seeming somewhat superfluous to me, disconnected from the gameplay itself.
    • The game has a three act structure, with hard transitions between the three acts. I found this to be a little discordant, especially when transitioning from act two to three, where I felt a strong sense of satisfaction at "solving" the second act, only to still have a significant portion of the game to complete.


      Puzzle frustration: Moderate/Low. The origami puzzle didn't make sense to me at all, and I basically had to Invisiclue the whole thing. Otherwise, my impatience led me to use the Invisiclues a couple of other times to find avenues that I had missed, but given patience, I likely would have gotten through these without the light hinting I used.

      In sum, I am of two minds. This is an excellently crafted Infocom game, a fine example of a puzzle-driven text adventure game, with an original and imaginative theme. But, I just don't feel like the gameplay suits the theme. Maybe I'm a shallow person, but I'd rather just hunt for treasure in a big dungeon. I deciding where to rank this game, I decided that the story of Floyd in Planetfall, while not nearly as audacious or ambitious in intent, worked better within the confines of the game, so I put Trinity just below that one.

      Played Games, Best to Worst:

      1. Enchanter
      2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
      3. Sorceror
      4. Zork III
      5. Zork II
      6. Zork I
      7. Planetfall
      8. Trinity
      9. Wishbringer
      10. Stationfall
      11. Spellbreaker
      12. Plundered Hearts
      13. The Leather Goddesses of Phobos
      14. Infidel
      15. Starcross
      16. Seastalker
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