Posted by: Ben | October 10, 2009

if: The Believable Adventures Of An Invisible Man

A Z-code game in IF Comp 09 by Hannes Schueller

Because I seem to spend most of my reviewing time nitpicking without considering the relative merits of the game as a whole.  I’ve decided to put ratings on these reviews, but not the final mark out of ten, because that sometimes takes a while to crystallise.  (For example, I wrote down a rating for one of this year’s games at the end of a two hour session, and upped it two full points out of ten after further consideration, without actually looking at the game again.)  Instead I’ve marked them on a self-explanatory three-point system of Good, Great or Grim (stolen from ZX Computing Magazine, who don’t need it any more.)

This time around, The Believable Adventures Of An Invisible Man. I’ll be the judge of that.

You’ve always been an outsider. At school, being interested in science, the other students didn’t want to have anything to do with you. The other boys laughed at you, the girls despised you. Your parents didn’t understand you. And even your teachers were so far below your intellectual level that you couldn’t have a serious conversation with them!

Actually that is quite believable.

I gave up on trying to play this after about five minutes, which was when this happened:


Adrenaline is rushing through you as you take the step into your boss’s office. There is nobody in there. Damn! You had hoped your boss to be here so that you could personally have your revenge on him. Now you have to think of something else… but access to his office should provide enough opportunities.

You can’t, since the boss’s door is in the way.


It seems to be locked.

I’m off to find something finished to play.  But first, let’s have a butchers at the hints.

This is the second game I’ve played so far which requires me to launch an unprovoked, and worse, illogical attack on a stranger.  Oh, later on I have to fire a syringe at a puppy using a blowpipe.  Lordy, this game is stupid.  There are literally a billion good ideas out there for things you could do with an invisible man out for revenge, and this game contains precisely one, to whit, you could have him go to the pub and knock somebody’s glass over.

A game is not just a walkthrough that you type in.  It’s a series of entertaining problems that can be solved with some thought.  For example: I’m invisible. I want to murder a guy.  (Leaving aside the fact that I don’t have any motive to do so.) I own a piece of lead piping and a mouldy pizza.  Do I (a) throttle him with my bare hands, (b) creep up behind him and club him to death with the lead piping, or (c) throw a mouldy pizza out of the window in the hope that he will pick it up off the floor, eat it and spontaneously die? A plan which while ingenious, does not require me either to be invisible or to want to murder the guy in the first place.  It does, however, require me to a mind-reader to work out the solution.

I’m invisible.  I want to distract a secretary.  I’m not even sure why I want to do this, but for the sake of the argument I do.  Do I (a) rearrange the furniture when she’s not looking, (b) loudly slam the door several times, (c) whisper sinister threats in her ear or (d) turn on a nearby coffee machine in the hope that she will rather stupidly stand in front of it drinking coffee until I leave the room?

I’m invisible.  I want to pass unobserved through a crowd of people.  Do I (a) walk through them, knowing that as I am invisible they will not see me, or (b) rub foul-smelling chemicals over my naked body, thereby rendering myself easily detectable by smell for the rest of the game (except when the author forgets), in order to disperse the crowd?

I’m invisible (but smelly).  I want to get through a locked door, behind which, it turns out, are some people.  Do I (a) knock on the door, then slip through when it is opened from the other side, or (b) steal some bandages and a bathrobe from a hospital, burst in on the secretary I distracted earlier and silently hand her a card with the telephone number of a pub that delivers food, in the hope that she orders some food on behalf of the people upstairs and the door somehow gets opened in the confusion.

With illogical player actions, ropey characterisation and quite frankly not enough style, this is a game that manages to make invisibility no fun at all.

Rating: Grim

Next: GATOR-ON, Friend To Wetlands!


  1. […] my review of Hannes Schueller’s 2009 entry, The Believable Adventures of an Invisible Man. My younger […]

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