1893: A World's Fair Mystery is a well-written, atmospheric, and even educational text adventure reminiscent of Infocom's Sherlock: Riddle of the Crown Jewels. As the name suggests, it is 1893, and the World's Columbian Exposition is now in full swing in Chicago. You come to the fair at the request of your old partner, who wants you to help find the thief who stole precious diamonds from the Kimberly Diamond Mining Exhibit. But this is no simple theft. "As theft turns to kidnapping, and kidnapping to murder, you find yourself at the center of a plot the extent of which you can only begin to imagine..." |
If you have played Infocom's Sherlock, you will be right at home with 1893. There are many locations in the fair to visit, many characters to interview, and - of course - many puzzles to solve. Some puzzles are somewhat on the obscure side, but by and large they are logical and not too difficult. The on-line hint system does a good job of nudging you in the right direction one step at a time. I would have liked to see more puzzles that take advantage of the historical setting, though; many puzzles make me feel more like MacGuyver being transported back in time, than a 1893 sleuth. This is a minor quibble, however, and one could argue that every sleuth would benefit from MacGuyver's skills anyway ;)
The real star of the game is the amazing scope and attention to detail. The author went to great lengths to describe every little detail of the World's Fair, so much so that you can easily visualize the scenes. As if that is not enough, there are hundreds of historical photographs, and even some excellent music and sound effects to immerse you even further. The writing is consistently solid throughout, although I would have liked to see NPCs fleshed out more. Even if you are not interested in text adventures in general, 1893 may appeal to you as a great educational title: you can explore most locations in the World Fair at will without solving puzzles, just taking in the atmosphere and learning about that period. The $19.95 price tag may seem steep for a text adventure title, but the sheer size of the game, plus photographs and music, make it money well spent. Highly recommended to both IF enthusiasts and anyone who is interested in history.
Reviewed by: Underdogs