Chimaera is a fun text adventure that accomplishes a feat that very few - if any - adventure games can claim: offering a coherent and complete adventure with infinite replayability. Think of treasure-hunting adventures like Zork or Colossal Cave that you can play again and again with random geography but consistently logical puzzles, and that's what Chimaera is. |
How does Chimaera actually play? In the words of its designer, Chris Newall: "The object of the game is to amass as much treasure and other property as possible in the tent at your base camp - which you have to find at some stage. There is no easily calculable maximum score but scores of more than 1,000 should be achievable.
There are 11 starting points (0-10), Games 1-10 are consistent in that when they are replayed all locations and objects should appear in the same places and sequence each time the game is played. The various creatures encountered will depend on the actual sequence of moves made and may not always appear in the same places or at the same times. The starting point for Game 0 is chosen randomly and the chances that any two such games will behave consistently are correspondingly remote. Each game begins with the message: "You are standing on a wide grassy plain; far off the snow clad tops of distant mountains gleam in the rays of the rising sun. Isolated trees are dotted about the landscape and groups of animals can dimly be seen moving about some way off." However, your actual starting point on the plain, the nature of the local terrain, the location and distance of your base camp, and the date and time of day depend on the game number you have selected. You may explore the plain, there are objects to find and various hazards to encounter but the real adventure begins when you venture into the depths, where the really valuable stuff and the main hazards and puzzles are to be found.
Once you move from the starting place most locations and situations are described by computationally generated text, over 20,000 location descriptions can be computed although not all may be accessible to you. This is because the possibilities for moving between adjacent locations are usually limited. Occasionally you may get into a place from which there appears to be no exit, although you will usually be warned if this is likely. If you do get trapped there will usually be a means of escape but it may not be obvious and will be expensive. Objects, creatures and puzzles to be solved will be encountered in an apparently random (though consistent) manner. As with Colossal Cave, you may eventually be able find short cuts between locations."
Chimaera is quite a lot of fun to play, even if the "infinite replayability" feature is a bit misleading since puzzles remain basically the same from game to game (although you will likely run into different puzzles in the second game and beyond). But even if it had no replayability, Chimaera would still be just as much fun as Colossal Cave as a dungeon romp. A fun, interesting, and very unique release in the short history of text adventures - even if you may not be compelled to play it more than once. Highly recommended!
Reviewed by: Underdogs