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Another Look
Review by: Roger Carbol
Game: Fallacy of Dawn
By: Robb Sherwin

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Every game has its star: sometimes plot, sometimes puzzles, sometimes something else. The star of 'Fallacy of Dawn', it's raison d'être, is two-fold: the characters, and the setting. It's a dead heat between them, but everything else is clearly subservient.

The setting is a healthy handful of locations in the city of New Haz, which is one of those cities that has turned into a big prison, the way New York did in 'Escape From New York'. It's dank and dismal in the way prisons are, and stocked with pizza parlours and sushi bars and automatic weapons stores in the way that prisons aren't.

We see all this through the eyes of our hero, Delarion Yar, who, to be charitable, has a few issues. His memory is conveniently shot all to heck, as old an IF device as you're likely to find. He is also unable to properly comprehend radio or TV emissions, due to a bonk on the noggin and a lot of pseudoscience babbling. I'm happy to accept this as a conceit of the plot, but I'm happier when no attempt is made to try to prop it up with quasi-technical jagon.

Delarion talks to us in the first-person, but does so almost completely transparently. He never questions our orders or any of the other affections one will sometimes find in first-person IF.

He talks to the other characters, of which there are many, using a menu-based system which works quite well. The conversation trees are long enough to give a sense of character, but short enough to exhaustively traverse without much difficulty.

The other characters, particularly his good friend Porn, and his maybe-girlfriend Clara, manage to be rich and robust without falling into any of the classic cliches. Much of the game (and fortunately, much of the joy of the game) comes from talking and interacting with these characters.

If the setting is one of the stars of this work, then the star of the setting is a whole lot of classic video games. The author's love of the subject virtually oozes through their finely-detailed descriptions. I'm not particularly fond of the old console machines, but I found the inherent excitement with which they were described to be infectious.

The game has placed the emphasis on style, but, being a game, there are still puzzles to be solved. It approaches this in a time-honoured manner: Delarion needs a certain amount of money. Talk to someone, get a quest from them, complete the quest, get the money. Repeat. Fortunately, the quests and particularly the characters involved are interesting enough to keep the process amusing. As well, the quests can be completed in just about any order, which gives the player some flexibility.

On the other hand, it didn't seem to fit entirely with the theme of the work. We're led to believe that New Haz is a hard, dangerous place. Then we find out that there's literally tens of thousands of dollars to be made in just doing a bit of legwork which, bizarrely, no one else seems motivated to make any effort to do. I found it a bit jarring, but only a bit. Again, it's an artifice for the sake of the game that I'm willing to accept.

The game, written in Hugo, has a nice, solid, polished feel to it. It displays graphics of your location and the current NPC you're interacting with, both of which are well-done and actually add some value to the experience. The game comes with an image file of a map of New Haz, which is also very useful.

All in all, if you're looking to interact with a tough punk setting for a while, or some tough punk characters, or if you've never gotten over your enchantment with the 'Crystal Castles' game, odds are good that you'll enjoy 'Fallacy of Dawn' a lot. If puzzles are more your thing, then I'd still recommend you at least give this game five or ten minutes of your time for a test-drive. It might just grow on you.

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