Oct 11, 2011

Calm and postapocalyptic serenity

The world has come to an end. Following the spores' invasion humankind is all but extinct, yet you are feeling calm. Almost at peace one might say, and that's why you and a handful of fellow humans have so far survived. Being tense in this new world is the same as being dead. And you seem to have also earned the gift of eternal youth as an added bonus, though apparently there are still things to be done. If it weren't thus, playing through the lovely Calm 2011 Interactive Fiction Competition entry wouldn't make much sense now, would it?

Happily playing Calm, a text adventure brilliantly described as a game of postapocalyptic relaxation, does actually make a lot of sense. It is a hefty, well-written and well-polished adventure sporting some interesting puzzles, an excellent setting, splashes of humour, more than a few intriguing characters, a subtle yet effective calmness-management mechanic, a postapocalyptic scenario that doesn't involve aliens, zombies or nuclear weapons, and loads of interactivity. Merely selecting your character's initial history, for example, will let you begin the game with a different inventory, different abilities and a different set of tasks, whereas I did also discover two puzzles that allowed for alternate solutions. And there's the choice of three difficulty settings too. I'm frankly impressed!

What's more, the game's world is both believable and a joy to explore, as its authors have wisely decided to show the ways in which nature would reclaim a human-less world. The vegetation is out of control, the infrastructure is crumbling, corrosion has taken its toll and one of my favourite scientific subjects has finally made it to a game. Now, to cut a long story short and avoid spoiling things (and, say, telling you, you'll even run into a bloody queen), let me just strongly recommend you try this one out. It's definitely worth your time and is accessible enough for i-f first timers, while also providing for those that care for such matters as a decent challenge. 

You can play Calm both online and locally on your PC, provided of course you download it from the ifcomp site or use this handy direct link. The archive comes with some hints that should be more than enough for anyone to unravel Calm's story. Oh, and the game has been authored by Joey Jones and Melvin Bangasamy, who most definitely did not come up with the lovely piece of artwork this post features; this was made 20 or so years ago for another postapocalyptic game: Wasteland.

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19 comments:

  1. ..eternal youth... what's not to love! and an intriguing review too, thank you Mr.Gnome :)

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  2. You are most welcome Mr. Elderly.

    Where's Mr. Pink?

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  3. mr. pink! ? mr.pink?

    Ποιος είναι ο κ.. Ροζ;

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  4. Answer in a link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nLIbkjGzdA

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  5. ah mr. pink! a film that has been on my wish list for quite some time.... I will have to start ticking off some of the items on this list..

    (....Martha...) no overweight, married and a mustache now

    (...the neighbours barking dog..) should have ticked this off a long time ago, roadkill now

    (...grocery list..1977) oops well that's just plain oversight..

    ..am this could take me a little while Gnome, we should order something? you hungry? bored or thirsty?

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  6. Actually my patience is immense, as exactly are my meditation skills. I'll wait. Humbly. And smiling.

    Just make sure Martha doesn't come here...

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  7. :( I'll start another list, I haven't gotten to concepta and Stella yet... age does not take kindly to us humans

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  8. I've been working on my cybergnomes program you know. Should work on humans...

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  9. :) you jest...!? you mean I could rejuvenate.. will I get pointy ears!!!? always wanted pointed ears....

    (practices Vulcan vice grip.....)

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  10. Sure. Pointy ears. And a huge, uhm, nose I suppose?

    Ready when you are...

    (powers up machine)

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  11. (elderly braces himself for transformation....)

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  12. Blog Narrator10/25/11, 1:26 AM

    Wait! Wait! Got a get a picture of this

    ...
    ....
    ......

    Okay all set, fire it up Gnome!

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  13. (fires it up)

    (time passes)

    (time passes)

    (nothing much happens)

    (time passes)

    Hmmm. Maybe if I updated the firmware to Windows Vista?

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  14. An update! will that affect the pointiness of the ears then?

    ...feeling a bit woozy!

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  15. Most probably not. The pointiness has everything to do with the hardware itself, or so I've been led to believe.

    Relax.

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  16. okay sorry! it's just that... with an update things could go... well wrong

    :(

    has this procedure passed the EU stress test?

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  17. I believe it did. And ranked right next to the Greek banks, which is kind of odd really...

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  18. Safe enough then, what's good for the chimpanzees that stress tested the EU banks is good for me

    (settles back calmly)

    kay I'm ready

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  19. Excellent, just excellent!

    Now, to install them euro-powered, pointy ears. The EU parliament (remember this joke?) will be proud.

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