Often billed as Infocom's first serious science fiction (a fact that probably explains its poor sales record), A Mind Forever Voyaging ranks with Trinity as my most favorite Infocom games, and one of the best games I ever played. The plot of the game is as unique as it gets, and explains why Steve Meretzky is one of the very few computer game designers to be officially honored as sci-fi writer. You are Perry Sim, a hitherto normal person who wakes up one day to find that you are in fact PRISM, the world's first sentient computer, and that the illusion of your earlier life had been a necessary part of your programming process. Your first mission: test the value of a controversial long-term economic stimulus program. You do this by going into a virtual reality computer simulation of the country ten years hence, and make recordings of everyday activities that can evidence the plan's success or failure. |
Unlike other Infocom classics, A Mind Forever Voyaging is meant to be experienced rather than played. The first two parts of the game have almost no puzzles, focusing instead on exploration and discovery as you walk the streets of Rockville and observe the changes that take place over time. And what a world it is to explore! Rockvil is a bustling city that is brought to life by convincing and detailed descriptions. Examining most objects and buildings often yields more detail and historical anecdotes. Your identity as a computer is cleverly reinforced by a computer-screen interface that allows you to go in and out of the simulation at will; in Communications Mode, you can read up on world news and research the library for information, while the Interface Mode allows you direct control of subsidiary computers in the complex. Most of the puzzles are in the third and last part of the game, where you must fight for survival against those who are displeased with data you uncovered in the simulation. Although there are only a few, they are very clever indeed. In fact, Meretzky was so pleased with the puzzle at the end of this section that he used virtually the identical one at the end of Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2 (which is not even 1/1000th as good as this game).
A Mind Forever Voyaging remains today as a major milestone in interactive fiction-- a game that transcends its "game"-ness and becomes a truly captivating interactive novel. Its richness of detail and level of depth make the game enjoyable even when you're playing it for the third time or more. Definitely a must play for all IF fans, and especially fans of serious sci-fi.
Reviewed by: Underdogs