Sunday, 6 September 2015

Interactive Fiction review #7 - CERCLA

CERCLA by J. P. Robinson (1993)

I swear people make these horrible games on purpose!

CERCLA by Jeffrey P. Robinson is yet another example for a game that never should have been made.

Your valiant search for... documents or something (the introduction is REALLY boring) leads you through a maximum of 169 (!) rooms which are "luckily" mostly empty. What begins in an office environment soon turns into something suffering from "unnecessary-inclusion-of-fantasy syndrome"(tm). As soon as I encountered the first dwarf the game was pretty much over for me.

But of course the problems of this game start right away on the first screen. Rather than letting the player carry items in his inventory you have to use a container, which serves no purpose whatsoever other than making things more tedious for the player.

You can barely examine or do anything in this game. "I don't understand x as a verb. You can't see y here. I don't. You can't. Mehmy mehmy meh." It's so much fun playing a colossally huge game with barely anything to look at or do! I swear some people put bad gameplay in their games on purpose just to piss the unsuspecting player off!

The writing in this game is not quite as piss-poor as some other atrocities I've encountered, but there are some very weird things happening.

The men's and women's bathroom descriptions, for example, produce the exact same text (including some very specific things that make this completely illogical) other than replacing the words "men" and "women", respectively. On two different floors!!!

Poems (not the author's!) are included randomly. Items are usually "glued down" or can't be taken for other ridiculous reasons. There are weird political undertones. There is no differentiation between entering a room for the first and sequential times, so things happen again and again when you press look or leave and re-enter a room. Even a creature you can kill is resurrected this way! The seriousness of the memos and documents you find and read (all of them boring and uninteresting) is painfully juxtaposed with the silliness of encountering fantasy creatures. In one location you encounter, of all things, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I mean, what did you expect, the Addams Family?!

Documents specifically adressing the player just lie around in the game world. In one instance you find the directions you can go to not in the room description, but in a note you find on the ground!!!

This game is a total mess and probably the result of the usage of some weird drugs. In fact, only that would explain the existence of this abomination perfectly.


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