Written by  :  saladpuncher (24)
Written on  :  Mar 21, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars

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Innovative and fun.

The Good

Having been the "lucky" winner of the Central Mentality Lottery you are to be buried miles beneath the planet and placed in limited cryogenic suspension. You are to sleep for 500 years acting as a failsafe for the computers that control the weather, food production, and traffic. In the VERY unlikely event a disaster occurs that the computer can't handle you will be awoken to fix any problems. Of course a disaster occurs the moment you start the game and you are brought back to consciousness and put in charge of six robots that can perform tasks, investigate the world, and repair damages. Due to limits in technology (and perhaps budget restrictions) each robot is restricted in the way that they perceive and interact with the world.

"A robot who hears but cannot see"

Part board game and part interactive fiction, "Suspended" is Infocom's first high concept game ("A Mind Forever Voyaging" being their other). Instead of controlling yourself you are rendered immobile and your senses (sight, hearing, touch, etc) are spread out and placed into separate robots. Problems usually require you to use the right robot for the job or two separate robots together to get a complex task finished. A map and player pieces were included that let you track where each robot is helping you plan your moves

"A robot who sees but cannot wander"

One of the most interesting things about this game is how it was shaped by the limits of computer technology at the time. It would be almost impossible to create this game today using state of the art graphics and sound. Most of the robots couldn't really see and only one was capable of hearing sound. Their world is rendered using prose and your imagination. Can you imagine taking this game to producers today and trying to get it made? Only interactive fiction could possibly create this world which is a shame because, besides a few dedicated individuals, it is all but dead.

"A robot who feels but cannot hear"

The parser is very good and not too restrictive. It isn't as good as Infocom's later games but it works well enough that you won't have to fight the interface when solving problems. The replay value is high because once you solve the game you can replay it again and again trying to reduce the number of casualties on the surface and increase your score. You can also specify the level of difficulty by setting certain parameters (such as how many turns pass before the first and second earthquake, how long before the humans on the surface wait to come and disconnect you, etc). This allows you to make the game as hard or easy as you wish and experiment with different solutions.

The Bad

Because you know nothing of the complex (and working with a time limit) you will spend your first games just getting to know what you can and can't do and where everything is located. I don't think the game is winnable the first dozen times you play because once a 100 or so turns pass you will be removed from the game by angry humans from the surface. The only way to win is to know ahead of time the solution to certain problems (how to fix Iris, where to move the robots at the beginning of the game, etc). This isn't terrible but it does break the illusion the game creates by forcing you to rely on "past-life" knowledge.

The Bottom Line

One of the most innovative games ever created with only a few weak spots. Any fan of interactive fiction should play this immediately.