|NAME: The Multi-Dimensional Thief||GAMEPLAY: AGT or Parser/GUI|
|AUTHOR: Joel Finch||PLOT: Escape the Dungeon|
|EMAIL: ???||ATMOSPHERE: Fragmented|
|AVAILABILITY: Shareware ($15), GMD||WRITING: Not Bad|
|PUZZLES: A Few Surprises||SUPPORTS: PCs|
|CHARACTERS: Unresponsive||DIFFICULTY: Below Average|
"The Multi-Dimensional Thief," which was a winner in one of the AGT Programming Contests a few years back, comes in two formats: A text-only AGT-based version, and a Legend-esque graphical game engine, with command buttons, clickable text, and mouse input. Both versions of the game have the same layout, but I found the latter to be a bit more playable, as the parser is a slight improvement over AGT's standard, though still far from perfect (the AGT version is not bad either, merely missing a few nice features). They're both a bit buggy, though -- I found three or four rather obvious mistakes as I played through them, but nothing serious.
The plot is nothing we haven't seen before. You're a thief, and you want to become part of the Multi-Dimensional Thieves' Guild. So you're placed in a magical dungeon and must escape to prove yourself. Pretty standard stuff, but the simple concept serves the game well.
Throughout your travels, you'll visit a number of different places, many of which are barely connected to the game world. That's my primary complaint about "Thief" -- it seems as if many of the locations are simply stuck together with no regard for a streamlined overall design. Travel to exotic, faraway places works well in I-F if there's perceived spatial distance and a central logic to it (for instance, the Oracle in "Zork Zero"). But "Thief" puts so many diverse environments in such close proximity to one another that it tends to make the game appear incongruous and fragmented.
Some of the puzzles are quite clever. The portable hole, in particular (obviously inspired by the classic Warner Brothers cartoon), is one of my favorites. A few (some of the Oz puzzles, for instance), require some inside knowledge from the original sources that inspired their I-F counterparts. All in all, though, it's not too hard, and shouldn't take an experienced player more than a few days to play through.
The AGT version comes with a set of pop-hints, which in turn come with a list of fun things to try and some rather amusing bogus topics. This is one feature that I missed in the graphical release. If you detest graphics, the GUI version isn't going to endear them to you, but it's worth checking out for the novelty of implementation. Better yet, show it to your graphic-crazed friends, and perhaps they'll be willing to give parser adventures a try.
(BTW, the graphical version won't run on some older systems -- it requires a VGA or SVGA video card. Also, SVGA users need at least a 386.)
-- C.E. Forman