16: A Mind Forever Voyaging

Publisher: Infocom
Developer: Infocom
Year: 1985
Platform: DOS; Macintosh; Amiga

Review: Lauded by critics and ignored by the public, A Mind Forever Voyaging is more of a story than a game, being essentially puzzleless. But man, what a story. Taking place in the year 2031, America is doing poorly and some crackpot scientists have developed a sentient computer named PRISM. It’s purpose: to enter a simulation of the future to see if popular conservative Senator Richard Ryder’s plan for renewed national purpose will lead to prosperity. You are PRISM.

If you can set aside the ridiculous notion that a simulation of the future would ever come close to being accurate (hell, we can’t even predict next weekend’s weather with certainty), then you should enjoy this entertaining look into Steve Meretzky’s political vision of a possible future. While your goal is to record evidence of what’s going down in the years to come (from banal activities like eating a meal in a restaurant to more charged activities like meeting with government officials), the real purpose and joy of the game is to simply explore. The town of Rockvil, South Dakota is vividly imagined and detailed, and one could complete the game without visiting 90% of what the town has to offer. And while the story’s progression is fairly predictable, it consistently remains a poignant and touching story of self-exploration throughout and boasts one of the best endings out there.

My only criticisms are that things can be a little repetitive at times and the NPCs are not as developed as I prefer (especially your simulated wife). But in the grand scheme these are mere trifle. More of an experience to be enjoyed than completed, A Mind Forever Voyaging should be at the top of any gamer’s list of classics to try.

Contemporary RatingHigh. If you can get past the whole all-text, no graphics thing.  The parser is perfect and the game should never be frustrating.

Cruelty RatingMerciful.  No way to die, which makes it hard to believe this game is from 1985.

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