Fallacy of Dawn

Author: Robb Sherwin
Year: 2001
Development System: Hugo
Cruelty Rating: Tough (save frequently and you’re fine)
Length Of Play: 3-4 hours

My Rating: 9

Awards: Best Writing and Best Individual NPC — 2001 XYZZY Awards

Fallacy of Dawn won the XYZZY award for best writing; if you play for five minutes and don’t immediately agree, then save yourself some headaches as this game might be the buggiest to ever win an award. If you do enjoy the writing, then you’re in for a treat that is Sherwin’s fascinating and demented brain space.

One’s enjoyment is also enhanced if you’re familiar with much of the 80’s and 90’s video game references sprinkled throughout, but it’s not necessary. I literally spent thirty minutes in the arcade and the movie store reading titles of various games just to read Sherwin’s descriptions. I then spent time Googling games I hadn’t heard of.

Beyond that Sherwin is excellent at developing characters. The character of Delarion Yar is sympathetic and funny. Your best friend’s name is Porn yet he’s somehow endearing. And your girlfriend Clara is a rare well-written female in the cyberpunk genre. Each NPC is given similar treatment; even the bad guys are given distinct personalities.

I also appreciated the gameplay; you must earn enough money to afford a surgery that will help you regain your abilities as a hacker and there are many different opportunities (both legal and illegal) to do so and they can be done in any order. Moreover, much like Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, most puzzles can be solved by either fighting or wits. The latter solution tends to be more entertaining, but the former is a nice alternative.

An extra fair warning about the game’s bugs and technical issues. While I encountered nothing that crashed the Hugo engine or put the game in an unwinnable state, there are so many instances where the game doesn’t understand common verbs depending on the game state. There’s multiple locations where room exits aren’t indicated at all or there are exits described that don’t exist. Some actions can be repeated that shouldn’t. And there are so many unimplemented objects. This becomes frustrating because Sherwin’s writing deserves the “examine everything” approach by the player, yet it’s impossible to tell what will come back with “that thing isn’t here” responses. I should add that the game’s graphics, while a bit grainy and a bit sparse, definitely add to the atmosphere.

The ending is satisfying if a bit abrupt; I felt like I had more to explore in the town of New Haz (and I did; there were at least four puzzles I never solved). But as I couldn’t stop grinning throughout my entire play, Fallacy of Dawn still goes down as one of my favorite games.

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