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Game #573
Hall of Belated Fame Inductee  Jigsaw    View all Top Dogs in this genre
Interactive Fiction   Monumental


Jigsaw box cover

Jigsaw screenshot
Follow-up to Graham Nelson's acclaimed Curses, Jigsaw is a very different kind of game but no less a gem. It starts out innocently enough: it is New Year's Eve, 1999, and you are one among the many who are counting down to the turn of the millennium. While taking a breather from the party, you came across a piece of a jigsaw puzzle dropped by a mysterious figure in black. What happens next is a veritable whirlwind through the most important moments in history that will leave you exhilarated and educated in equal parts.

Structurally, the game is laid out into sixteen "chapters" covering sixteen eras, each of which provides you with the jigsaw puzzle needed to enter the next. The puzzles are challenging without being insurmountable; players looking primarily for mind-bogglers will probably be disappointed, at least in the earlier chapters. Some of them rely on the player looking in just the right place for an item. Most are logical and straightforward, even if the right answer is not obvious. It's also very interesting to play through a puzzle or an NPC interaction more than once, trying different things, to see wildly different results. Because of the chapter-by-chapter layout of the game, it's quite possible to bungle one episode without ruining the game; failing to take the "right" action in one chapter still lets you solve another. One of the most interesting features of the game is the footnotes: after you solve each episode, you can look up a non-spoiler explanation of the episode that gives its background and fills in details you may or may not know. There is also a humorous list of the game's Latin tags in translation.

The real strength of Jigsaw lies in its prose. The cheery descriptions of the party in the Prologue make it seem banal, except that you're offhandedly told that you won't live out the century. In the very first chapter of the game, you find yourself in a ringside seat to watch an assassination, with an insane person as your companion. Your next adventure gives you a subtle clue that your "friend" is actually your nemesis...or is s/he? The descriptions of each chapter are also well-done, being detailed and very different for each episode without being tedious or overwhelming. Definitely a must-have for IF enthusiasts, although IF beginners are well advised to be prepared for some tough puzzles.

Reviewed by: Underdogs

Designer: Graham Nelson
Developer: Freeware
Publisher: Freeware
Year: 1995
Software Copyright: Graham Nelson
Theme: Alternate History
Multiplayer:  
None that we know of
Related Links:  
System Requirements: Inform
Where to get it:   IF Archive
YouTube:  
If you like this game, try: Curses, Christminster, Mindwheel

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