Name: Suspended
Developed By: Infocom
Published By: Infocom
Year: 1983

Description: One of Infocom's most novel pieces of interactive fiction, Suspended told the tale of a person (the player character) cryogenically frozen in an underground complex. This person was in charge of maintaining and repairing the huge filtering computers that kept the automated food, weather, and transportation systems going up on the surface, making life very easy for the people there. Until, of course, something goes horribly wrong.

Notables: Suspended was unique in several ways - first in its plot, but also in how the player interacted with the game. The player character is actually immobile, suspended in cryosleep in a pillar in the central command chamber. The player must interact with the world through six robots, each of whom has a special function. The robots are Iris, who can see as well as a human, Waldo, who can pick up and manipulate almost anything, Auda, who can transmit auditory data back to the player, Sensa, who can sense vibrations, electrical current and radiation, Whiz, who can plug into data pillars to access helpful information, and Poet, who can diagnose problems but has trouble communicating.

Another unique factor is that bad things are happening and people are dying from turn one, and part of your score depends on how low you can keep the casualty rate on the surface.

And a third twist is that your predecessor in the complex went mad and started using the system to kill people deliberately, so the people upstairs have itchy trigger fingers and it won't take long before they decide you've gone mad too and send someone down to disconnect you...

My Opinion: A staggeringly good idea marred a bit by execution. By putting the player on a time limit from turn one, the player has almost no chance to explore the complex and find out what's actually going on before the end of the game. Therefore the player will be forced to "blow" the first couple of games just to find out vital information about the complex, and then use that information later to finally win a game. Having to use the multiple robots (all of whom are limited in some capacity) to carry out the player's bidding can be frustrating as well - especially when you have to spend several turns just waiting for one vital robot to reach the room where it is needed. In an effort to fight this, Infocom actually included a complete map of the complex with the game, as well as rubber discs representing each bot, so the player could keep track of who was where. Still, Infocom themselves rated the game as "Expert" difficulty.

Notes: The original versions of this game were for the Apple II and Commodore 64 computers. Later versions were created for the IBM PC and Apple Macintosh. The game can currently be played on just about any computing platform due to the efforts of the Frotz group.

Suspended was released back when it was popular to include lots of "trinkets" with computer games. The original version of Suspended came with a manual, a white plastic mask, a map of the complex, rubber discs representing the robots, a letter of congratulations for being selected to run the complex, and a lottery card.

Links: Encyclopaedia of Computer And Video Games

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