Monday, December 4, 2023

Mindshadow: Won!

Welcome to Mindshadow's final chapter - Luxembourg! I explored and Trizborted this new area; it's perhaps the biggest one yet.

Just north of the airport was an inn, which we can only assume is the one that a clue in England told us to meet "Bob" at.

Poor Bob.

Searching him reveals his ID card, and a note advising us that "Jared" is in room 207. "THINK" recalls him as a lowlife, presumed dead in a car accident. Guess not.

Inventory starts to be a problem, and I have to start discarding items that seem useless.

Further north is a bank, and to the east, a "mountain wilderness" area.

It's another MOTLP! But at least this time there's no quicksand. I found no purpose to this area yet, though I noted that one room was described as a "remote" mountain wilderness and featured two trees instead of one.

Northwest, I enter the grand hotel, where the clerk tells me I am at room 202.

Eight rooms are here, and no doors are locked.

Room 202 proves dangerous!

Room 207 proves deadly!

The others are mostly harmless.

There's a cute Psycho reference if you attack him with your cleaver.

Room 202 is the important one. After ducking an obvious booby trap, a parchment here reveals a clue.

Back to the mountain wilderness it is!

I was wondering when I'd find a leaflet.

The leaflet is a safety deposit box slip, which I take to the bank.

There is a gun inside the box! I haven't got any better ideas, so I go to room 207 and shoot Jared.

The message - "Jared-- beware. William was seen flying into Luxembourg."

So I use the command "THINK WILLIAM." And end the game.

Yay, I have lawyers who can defend me from my inevitable premeditated murder charge!

Incidentally, you can trigger the game's victory condition at any time. The power to recall was in you all along. You think Myst can be beaten quickly once you know how? Mindshadow can be won on the first screen by thinking about the subjects TYCOON, BOB, ARCMAN, JARED, and WILLIAM. I tried it. Let's see how far your "wealthy industrialist" status gets you while marooned on a desert island, Arcman.

GAB rating: Average. Interplay was never known for their adventures, and Mindshadow is okay, I guess. Certainly better than The Demon's Forge, but by 1985 adventure standards it's nothing special. Despite the Robert Ludlum spy thriller inspiration and a box cover promising mystery and psychological intrigue, Mindshadow is very much a run of the mill quest in the Adventureland mold that barely explores its own conceit. The whole angle of being an amnesiac recovering his own identity is a big adventure game cliche by now, but here it just feels like an afterthought.

The Apple II graphics aren't bad, and I enjoyed the writing - it's no Infocom, but it's more entertaining than the perfunctory prose seen in Scott Adam's Questprobes, or in those Sierra Hi-Res Adventures that I suffered through a few years back. Some of the game's responses to my off-the-cuff actions were cute and unexpected. Puzzles are mostly on the easy side, but I'll take that over unsolvably obscure, which tends to be the alternative when the formula is still stuck in the Adventureland get-object use-object format. When I needed them, the Condor's ingame hints were both amusing and a welcome alternative to Internet spoilers. More adventures could have used this! And Mindshadow is relatively free of annoying adventure game conventions like hunger, darkness, and non-Euclidean mapping. Even the mazes are straightforward.

But still, in the end Mindshadow is a brief, primitive, and unsubstantial adventure that doesn't offer much that we haven't seen before.


Luxembourg map:



  1. The graphics are actually really impressive, the human figures especially. You can tell immediately that unlike most artists for these early graphic adventure games this one was comfortable drawing people. It has more expressive poses and more ambitious crowd scenes than I've ever seen in one of these things, but at the same time they don't have that unpleasant over-caricatured look that you sometimes see when the artist is trying to show off their cartooning chops.

    The drab use of colors lets it down somewhat though, you kinda get the feeling that they were trying to make it look like a traditional illustration, but the Apple ][ just wasn't quite up for it. The graphics in something like Transylvania may have cruder draftsmanship, but Antonio Antiochia had a sense for how to make the colors and textures look as good as possible and that ultimately made the graphics more effective.

  2. I agree, I think the graphics are quite impressive. Reading play throughs like this makes me miss the old days playing adventure games on my Apple II clone.


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