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Unauthorized Termination Reviews
Author: Richard Otter
Date: 2006
ADRIFT 4.0


Reviewed by Mathbrush

This was a charming game, and in a genre I haven't seen too much of: a murder mystery set completely in a world of robots. Bad Machine and Suspended both give off the same vibe of this game, that of a purely mechanical society, but this game achieves a remarkable contrast between the impassiveness of the robots and the emotion of the investigation.

It suffers from ADRIFT's standard problems, but to a much smaller degree than usual. I did have some trouble guessing the later actions, but overall I found myself pleased by this game. I've been lucky enough to find a string of good games in a row this week.


Reviewed by David Whyld

I’ll start with a disclaimer that I was a tester for this game so reviewing it was complicated by the fact that I had already seen what it had to offer, yet had to play it through again just to see what had changed. I won’t list the changes I noticed between the first version I played and the finished IFComp version (that wouldn’t be fair), except to mention that they improve the game play side of things quite significantly. A number of annoyances I noticed have been fixed and another aspect of the game changed entirely for the better.

In “Unauthorised Termination”, you play the part of Epsilon-Beta, a senior examiner at the Centre of Examination on the planet of Morbian. A senior examiner seems to be some kind of investigator/executioner for those who break the law and need to be punished. And this is in a society where almost every crime is punished by termination. The ‘unauthorised’ termination of the game’s title involves the death of one Gamma-Sigma which you are assigned to look into. Only when you start to investigate the death, you find there's more to it than meets the eye.

Where the game excels is in its depiction of the aliens who, for a change, actually seem genuinely alien and not just thinly-disguised humans with silly names. In appearance they are robotic and have little warmth and personality, but rather than hinder them it made them seem all the more believable. Their strange liking of simple personal belongings, appropriate to their level of achievement, is another nice touch. In a world where even the powerful seem to make do with nothing more lavish than a single, barely furnished room, I guess a pebble or rock seems like something to aim for.

Travel is via teleporters for the most part, as the game is broken up into many smaller parts making conventional travel only possible in a limited number of locations. Using the teleporters is easy, though can sometimes be frustrating as, for example, the teleporter from one location will only allow access to certain other locations, and the teleporters from there only allow access to certain others, and so on… So it’s sometimes a pain finding the teleporter you need to reach location X when you're at location Y and quite often you'll need to visit A, B, C, D, etc, before finding the teleporter which leads to where you want to go.

I preferred the setting of this game to that of the writer’s IFComp entry of 2005 – “Escape To New York” – and found myself preferring the main character as well, even though I was playing the part of an emotionless robot. Uncovering what has happened to Gamma-Sigma, and the larger conspiracy that you stumble on during the investigation, is quite straightforward to begin with, though gets difficult further on in the game. The more of the game that opens up via the teleporters, the harder it is to find your way around. I wasted more than a few moves at one point in the game going back and forth from one teleporter to another trying to figure out what I needed to do next. Fortunately, help is provided and this gives you just enough information to get past the harder parts.

“Unauthorised Termination” wasn’t my favourite game of the IFComp, but it was a nice enough game in its own right and the setting was certainly a refreshing one after the rather mundane settings of so many of the other entries.

6 out of 10 


Reviewed by Justin Morgan

I sensed that the author had spent a lot of time working things out for this one. The fact that a PDF map was included was unique for this game (I think) and potentially very helpful. My main complaint would be that the prose in the game was fairly dull. For example, there was a teleporter, but the way it was implemented was fairly uninspiring; maybe that's because the plot was more important than the technology, or because the player character - in role - is so very used to this technology. But I couldn't build up much enthusiasm all the same.


Reviewed by Nick Bronson

Plot: 5/10 - Plot felt reasonably weak and cliche in all.
Atmosphere: 5/10 - Supposedly a totalitarian/orwellian regime but failed to evoke the fear generally associated with the genre.
Writing: 6/10 - Writing was decent. Descriptions, though sparse, were reasonably well written.
Game play: 6/10 - No major bugs found, teleportation system worked reasonably well.
Characters: 6/10 - Machines with human characteristics and apparent feelings. Author seemed undetermined whether to treat them as people or machines.
Puzzles: 6/10 - Reasonable puzzles. Logical with the story.
Overall: 6/10 - An ok game, though not a good representative of the orwellian genre. Closer to space opera perhaps.

I must admit, I may be scoring this game a bit harsher than I normally would mainly because the author’s description of the game as a near-orwellian dystopia setting exicted me. 1984 remains, to this day, stuck in my mind as the most depressing, frightening and realistic science fiction novel I have ever read. Given what is currently happening in the US and here in Aus, it should perhaps be required reading for citizens so we can see what we’ve got to look forward to. The biggest failing of this game, in my opinion, is its failure to deliver on this potential. The idea of totalitarinism is used as a backdrop in the most literal way possible - it is assumed as a background then not really interacted with at all for the rest of the game.

Despite the fact that your character repeatedly disobeys orders from his superior, who is, from the start, obviously involved in a secret conspiricy, doesn’t hold water with the supposed background. By the time you are first targetted for assassination its really too little too late. This follows later when, in the end, your superior (the traitor) has a sudden change of heart, inspired by your mindless devotion to the law, and has himself and his associates terminated.

Say what?

I have to admit one of the biggest problems the author has with this story is the fact that all the characters are robots of different kinds. It seems though that a decision was never really whether to treat them as robots - computerised, logical, etc - or to anthromorphise them and treat them as humans. Instead, we are left with an awkward half and half. Our character spends most of the game as a classic robot - reciting laws by number and only interested in pursuing his duty. Most other robots we meet act the same, particularly the ones that help you. 

Whilst we’re faced with mostly-computer robots, we’re then asked to believe that elsewhere other robots are gambling in illegal clubs and enjoying themselves in debauchery common only to humans, as well as starting and partipating in religious cults. As well as this, our superior and his superior are traitors who seek to bring robots with weapons into the colony, the reason for which is not entirely obvious. I assume it benefits them in some way, because they are not at all worried about breaking the law and killing people/robots to get their way.

In the end you save the day, but you’re not really 100% sure what it is you saved, if it was worth saving, or why we should care. I didn’t find it particularly engaging or logical. Technically speaking, the game ran well with no obvious bugs I could see. The puzzles that had to be overcome fit with the story well and didn’t feel contrived or out of place. Except for as mentioned earlier, the characters were well characterised in that they were consistent.

Worth playing, but not brilliant. 


Reviewed by Matt Carey

Blurb: You are a senior investigator with the police force of what is basically a totalitarian state. On a world where nearly all forms of crime are punishable by execution, you have been called on to investigate someone who has been unlawfully killed. 

Remember: the plural is formed by adding an s to the end of a noun. 

“An unauthorized termination is not unusual but is fairly rare…” 

I think the author may have chosen poorly by taking on a form of techno-dystopia that basically cuts off the chance of interesting character development. I felt that I was generally being led by the hand by this game at first, and then I got stuck and the walkthrough couldn’t help me. Evidently I’d lost a vital keycard somewhere along the line. 3


Reviewed by James Hall

A dystopian IF with a few clever twists. Thankfully, the story focused on the unauthorized termination mentioned in the title, rather than the 

dystopian aspects of the game world- a setting/genre that I've never been particularly keen on. Despite some punctuation errors in the text 
and a few other logical inconsistencies I can't remember the details of, I liked the game a fair bit. Unfortunately, I also helped with the 
beta testing, so I wasn't allowed to vote on it. Otherwise, it'd probably be looking at a 5. 


Reviewed by Mike Snyder

Game’s Blurb:
    
You are a senior investigator with the police force of what is basically a totalitarian state. On a world where nearly all forms of crime are punishable by execution, you have been called on to investigate someone who has been unlawfully killed.

     XYZZY Response:
     [Press ENTER for cheat mode]
     A small voice says, "I'm sorry, but on Morbian the command xyzzy is meaningless."

     The introductory background material for Unauthorized Termination is both intriguing and daunting.

     On one hand, I enjoy worlds that adhere to a carefully planned model. As a citizen of Morbian, you should know about various body types, creation centers, crime and punishment (laws), fuel consumption and recharging, the usage (or meaning) of general terms, religion (the origin legend), series types, teleportation, and units of measured time. It really shows the thought and detail put into creating the Morbian society.

     On the other hand, if it’s really important to know all of it, how would my memory and comprehension serve me? It’s easy to review each bit in-game using special single-word commands, although “creation” displays the same text as “body”, and “fuel” is listed twice. I struggled, at times, as I confused a body type for a proper name, or forgot that the series number has nothing to do with the creation center.

     Ideally, this information might have been relayed in pieces (with the ability to review any part that was already shown). For a short game, I can see the difficulty in that. In a longer one, a better idea might have been simple puzzles through the beginning that introduce the recharging, and then the importance of laws, and then maybe the creation info, and perhaps the body types, models, and series types after that.

     By the end, though – and this is important for first-time players – it does make sense. Perhaps my mistake was in trying to understand it all from the start. I expected that some of this knowledge might work its way into puzzles. Maybe it would be important to know that “action x” could not have been caused by a certain functioner because this particular functioner has wheels instead of legs. Or, maybe my understanding of laws 4361 and 6610 would ensure (at some point) that I didn’t enter into a situation that would lead to my own termination. It didn’t work out that way, which may be good or bad. Borrowing two more hands, it either saved me from tricky logical deduction on one, or was a missed opportunity on the other.

     Epsilon-Beta handles the deductive reasoning. As a player, I only had to follow the clues. It’s not a difficult game, despite what may seem to be an overwhelming amount of world-defining exposition. I used the walkthrough once or twice, but I might have avoided it with a bit more persistence.

     What I came to realize is that learning how Morbian works is a big part of the game’s appeal. The story is fine (relentless cop defies boss to solve the case and save the day), but putting this in a uniquely odd society – where the emphasis is as much on the backstory as what’s happening currently – made the game more interesting than it might otherwise have been.

     The writing is okay, although some typos show up here and there. The style fits with the utilitarian setting. My biggest complaint (for which I’ll forego any other discussion of the writing in Unauthorized Termination) is with Richard Otter’s use of commas.

     The comma is a tricky little thing. In essence, it separates phrases and tells a reader where to take a mental pause. Commas have rules (as do other kinds of punctuation), and these rules don’t come easy to some of us. Even with my little pocket references for grammar and the rules of writing, I don’t always get it right. What stands out about Richard Otter’s writing, though, is that he really really doesn’t get it right. Commas sometimes take the place of periods (the so-called “comma splice”):

     “Little is known of those early times, some even doubt the existence of the 'first one', but most agree…”

     The fix? Let the bit before the first comma be a single sentence. Sometimes, it’s only a matter of the comma being a word or two out of place:

     “The circular id badge which, is both an id and security pass, reads…”

     The fix? Move the first comma after the word “badge”, since this is where the embedded clause begins. At other places in the text, a comma is sometimes used unnecessarily:

     “With a barrel shaped body it has four, multiple jointed legs and two arms.”

     The fix? I’m tempted to say remove it entirely, but it’s probably needed after the word “body” (before the remainder of the sentence). It’s the “multiple jointed legs” bit that throws it off. Read it as “four multi-jointed legs” instead. See the difference? It’s easy to over-analyze a sentence, but this might instead be written as:

     “It has four multi-jointed legs, two arms, and a barrel-shaped body.”

     I mention all of this (and at such length) because reading certain passages in Unauthorized Termination felt like walking with a shoelace untied. I kept tripping over these instances of comma misuse (especially during the first hour), and it would take a bit of mental stumbling to get back on firm footing.

     At the end, I was left with a few questions over plots points that seemed... unresolved. I hesitate to call them plots holes, because I could very well have missed a clue or misunderstood what was happening. When Epsilon-Beta reviews teleporter logs that have been erased, new entries (for E-B’s own usage) aren’t shown. The tracer finds one terminated functioner outside (distinguishing between him and the fake), yet later the tracer reports the whereabouts of the impostor instead. How do things go from the interrogator to the shelf in Zeta-Theta’s domicile, seemingly without Zeta-Theta ever leaving the Examination Center? What was the purpose of the Center for Distraction? Was recharging really necessary? It was easy enough, and appropriate spots are everywhere, but (a) these guys really need batteries that get them through the day, and (b) because it was so easy, it seemed like an unnecessary limit.

     As for bugs, I noticed only a few. I had a tough time getting the game to disambiguate badges, because replying with just the shape (as seems logical) didn’t do the trick. It usually required the entire description, in order to tell one badge from another. At one point, one of the teleporter options (from the Center for Distraction to E-B’s domicile) wouldn’t work, even though it was listed. The game just kept saying that it didn’t know how to achieve that (which seems to be a generic response for unrecognized commands). Near the end, it was still possible to read a piece of paper that had been taken away from me.

     The game worked well, with its numeric and sometimes alphabetic command shortcuts. It was easy to view laws, interact with the communicator, and teleport from place to place. When I got stuck, it was at times when I didn’t think to go back to a place I had already been – a place where I had already seen and done what needed to be, yet something different (and necessary to advance the story) happens on the way back. Overall, the puzzles are clued well. That, and they seem simple enough to keep the pace moving.

     Oh – one other thing. It’s a world ruled by robots. That’s worth a plus, and Unauthorized Termination gets an unofficial “7” from me.


Reviewed by Joshua Houk 

That's how tragic this year's IF Comp is: I ranked an Adrift game 10th. This game is pretty clever in parts - a couple missteps here and there but 
nothing worth bitching over - but the interface does drag it down and the story gets a bit weak at the end. 



Reviewed by JDC

Fairly interesting story and consistent style, but the names and teleporting became a bit tedious. The ending seemed a bit sudden. A
couple contrived things. The beginning describing a totalitarian society didn't really seem to come into play, unless the point was that
I, as a robot, happily followed along with it.


Reviewed by Admiral Jota

I have not even selected "Play Game" yet, and already this is shaping up to be a terrible, terrible IF experience. And incidentally:
> x circular badge
Which badge. Your square id badge or the circular id badge?

> circular
That is still ambiguous!

> x zeta's badge
Which badge. Your square id badge or the circular id badge?

> screw it
(circular id badge)
The circular id badge which, is both an id and security pass, reads "Zeta-Theta, Head Examiner". 
"An unauthorised termination is not unusual but is fairly rare"? Huh? I could say more, but why?


Reviewed by Jimmy Maher 

Pointless personal anecdote: This one made me think about an old graphical game I played a million years ago called Metropolis, also about a mystery within a city inhabited only by robots. I think I am the only person on the planet who ever played that particular game, and for some reason feel the need to mention it here. Moving on...

This was my first ADRIFT game of the Comp, and it didn't do a lot to improve my opinion of that system. The parser is annoyingly stupid, leading to exchanges like this: 

give square badge to mu-nu
Which badge. Your square id badge or the oblong id badge?

square
That is still ambiguous!

It's better than the typical home brewed design, mind you, but still leaves much to be desired, and it is pretty evident to me that Mr. Otter spent much of his time working around its failings with things like the strange numerical menu system for teleportion. The ADRIFT interpreter also has some problems. It never trims its scrollback buffer during play, meaning that during a long session it just consumes more and more memory and gets slower and slower as the amount of memory it much shift around with each new output gets larger and larger, until the player clears the screen manually. And since a scrollback is already integrated, why do I have to go into "edit mode" just to copy and paste? And why does "save" arbitrarily assume I want to overwrite my previous save file?

Okay, then, my elitist complaints about the ADRIFT system out of the way, I can move on to talking about this particular game. I am a sort of police robot on a planet of robots. My function is to track down and terminate any robots that break the rules of my totalitarian government in any way. It's pretty clear that the author has given considerable thought to his settings. 

In addition to this welcome impression, there are a few very clever things that I really impressed me, and that I need to mention. First, I liked the way I was allowed to gradually figure out that I was a robot on a planet of robots, rather than have this information beat me over the head right from the start. Second, the author has very cleverly neutered his game, removing all pronouns with the exception of "you." This combined with some nicely controlled writing gives the whole a flat, unemotional style that really serves the setting. And then I liked having my expectations of how the story was likely to play out subverted. I fully thought I would end up rebelling against the powers that be, but in the end I remained the bad guy, at least as near as I can tell, defeating those pesky freedom fighters with their silly ideas about self-determination and rights.

There is a lot to like here, but this has more than its fair share of problems as well. There are occasional typos and odd sentences (although nothing really egregious compared to some other games I've played in the Comp), and some strange, spurious messages at times. I don't really know if these latter are authorial bugs or just the ADRIFT library acting strangely for reasons of its own.

The game design is unfortunately also problematic. In the early stages, I felt like I was being led around by the nose too much. Go here! Do this! I was told, and any deviation from the path laid out for me only led to frustration. Things opened up eventually, but the result was even more frustrating. This is one of those games where the "puzzles" require one to ask one of the considerable number of NPCs about just the right topic, or show them just the right object, to advance. The whole thing is made even uglier by the fact that asking about the wrong things inevitably throws one straight up against the many failing of the ADRIFT parser. And then in one case that really had me stumped, one must reenter a room several times for a plot-advancing event to happen. I completed the game because I was genuinely interested to know how the plot would play out, but I ended up consulting the walkthrough on several occasions to find out what arbitrary interaction would trigger the next plot point.

This feels like a first effort. (I don't follow the ADRIFT community closely enough to know whether this is in fact the situation.) I had fun with it despite its failings, and hope Mr. Otter will take some of the criticism he will receive to heart and come back with a more polished effort. And thanks for the map, by the way. It really helped make this a much more pleasant experience. I'd like to see more authors include these.

Score: 6 out of 10.


Reviewed by Michael Martin 

I thought this was going to be Paranoia with the serial numbers filed off. It's not, though, not really. What it is is fairly cool.

Well, in terms of setting and plot. As a game, it's slightly buggy, and the text is in serious need of editing. (Actually, the writing in general this year has been very good, especially in the seriously intended pieces, which this is. In any other year, writing at Unauthorized Termination's level wouldn't even rate anything beyond mild and general grousing, but it jumps out as noticable here.)

Score 6


Reviewed by Rob Menke 

Richard Otter… Richard Otter… a familiar name. Oh right, he submitted the semi-biographical game last year. This time he’s gone in the opposite direction and has written a sci-fi story.

As usual, Richard provides a map as part of his game package. Good boy, have a cookie.

It’s not explicit, but from the introduction it looks like I’m playing a robot on a planet of robots, descended from the robots that accompanied the first settler.

Whoops:

ls.

This isn’t Unix you know!

Point for you, Richard.

Aw, and we were doing so well… first guess-the-verb obstruction: talking to Mu-Nu about the lance.

Hm, this might be a bug: my assignment card was converted into a tracer after being placed on the interrogator. Seeing that the game made no mention of this transformation, I suspect it’s a program error. (Later events make me believe it was intentional, but it still should have been noted by the narrative.)

Hovering passed you is a Phi.

Grammatically, there is no proper way to phrase that sentence. “Hovering by you,” maybe?

Hm, the mysterious attacker is hominid in shape. Interesting… Totalitarianism, Draconian law, four-legs, two-legs… I wonder if Animal Farm had any small inspiration in the story line?

Damn, I seem to have lost my evidence card… restore.

The first grand game of the competition! It’s really amazing how this game turned out compared with his rather pedestrian entry last year. Aside from a few typographical goofs (mostly inapposite periods and newlines — the author warns of these), the implementation was sound, the puzzles reasonable, and the story gripping. Well done!

Ironically, the map was almost unnecessary because of the menu-driven movement. Still, I appreciate its inclusion.


Reviewed by Ralph Merridew 

This did have a good core implementation ("names" verb, listing known facts, and using the tracer), but somehow the overall story didn't work for me. (Some of it was that the plot depended on the bad guys making unnecessary lies.)

Score: 4


Reviewed by Miseri 

Oh, very nice mystery story, though the end struck me as a bit off. The auto-complete was left on, which was momentarily annoying, but at least it could be turned off, and then I forgot all about it.


Reviewed by Niz

Murder on the planet of the robots. Initial doubts about the sparse descriptions and lack of detail are swept away by the sheer level of consistency in the game world. Everything is brief, to-the-point, logical, as you would expect on a planet of robots. All the default responses, descriptions and dialogue are cleverly tailored to role-playing the character of an emotionless "robo-cop". While its blindingly obvious that your superior is somehow involved in a cover-up from the get-go, and the PC is given a surprising amount of leeway given the supposed massive conspiracy, it doesn't detract from the fun of going through the investigative routine and uncovering the pieces of the puzzle bit-by-bit. The conclusion is a little weak, with some rather odd character actions, but overall its a good romp well worth playing - despite some minor intermittent implementation issues.
(6/10)



Reviewed by Dan Shiovitz

This sf game suffers from one of the classic sf game flaws, giving too much background information. I don't care how long their year is in earth-days, or what cities there are on the planet, or what religions groups there are. When I do care about something, I don't want to see paragraphs on it in intros at the beginning of the game that I have to read in case I miss something important, I want to see it in small chunks as it becomes relevant. Which is not to say the author shouldn't think up lots of background and world-building, they just shouldn't tell me about it. And there are cool things in this game — like the barter-based side-economy was something I would never have thought of but makes total sense.

The storyline is pretty railroady but also fun and reasonably original (with the setting being a big part of this). The ending is a little unsatisfying — I think it drags slightly too long, and as usual I disapprove of endgame "choices" where one of them loses the game immediately and the other lets it continue (the scene is appropriate to include in this kind of story, but just handle it as a cutscene).

It's an ADRIFT game but that's no big deal feature-wise by this point. There are a few places where we get into weird things that would possibly work better in another system — like I don't like the menus where you type A/B/C or 1/2/3 or whatever. They feel "non-IFy", and I'd much prefer "TELEPORT TO HOME" instead, even if it's longer. It's also irritating that TRADE X FOR Y is not the same as TRADE Y FOR X.

On the whole, though, this is quite a solid and fun little game and I recommend it.


Reviewed by Jerome West

Unauthorised Termination        6               55%

This game didn't grab me too much at the outset. The movement system, by which the main character teleports around to any locations he (it?)
wished to visit, seemed more like laziness on the part of the author than a novel game mechanic. The writing also seemed rather flat and
uninteresting. As I played on however, the game began to grow on me. The whole concept of a society of machines, living by strictly codified
rules, was fairly intriguing. I began to think that the rather unemotional writing was a deliberate choice, to fit with the PC's viewpoint and the game's overall theme. Even the teleportation movement system began to feel natural, so much so that when the game suddenly required me to travel somewhere using a more traditional directional command, this seemed somewhat jarring. The puzzles achieved a pretty good balance of difficulty for me, though no doubt some will find them rather unchallenging. There is a nice plot twist about half way through the game, which really appealed to me. But other than this moment, the plot was rather uninspiring in places, and the ending itself provided no real surprises. Overall, a nice little game with some good ideas, but ultimately rather spoilt by a plot and setting that could have done with fleshing out a bit more, plus a rather shallow implementation and a selection of typos and grammatical errors.


Reviewed by Stephen Bond

The most successful achievement of this game is its depiction of a suitably alien android world. The formulaic room descriptions, with their strange obsession with scale, are extremely easy to write but no less effective for that. The game's story was also reasonably interesting, though the means of progress were poorly hinted and I ended up using the walkthrough. It was a good idea to put all the backstory in a menu at the start where I could safely ignore it. None of it is necessary for enjoying or completing the game.

Termination is let down by partly by its wobbly prose, which has occasional comma splices, missing periods and other errors, but mostly by the Adrift parser, which made for frustrating interactions at times. The lack of pronoun handling was sorely felt, as was the fiddliness of using the teleporter. Which is not a trivial matter in a game where you have to use a teleporter to get anywhere.

Rating: 4


Reviewed by Crowheart

Unauthorized also came accompanied with a low score of 5. In retrospect, I think that game suffered a bit from being one of the first I played, as with the number of entries I simply did not have the time to play over each game once I'd played everything, to compare. I have somewhat high standards for interactive fiction. I liked the concept a lot, but it failed to provide for a lot of things I wanted to do. For example, you could reach the sexbots from one of the homes. I wanted to investigate that area, but it was clearly not designed for anything other than perhaps an amusing gag. Also, the lone robot that comes and tells you a little more of what is going on...you notice it from the start when you walk into the room, but attempts to examine, talk to, interact in any fashion whatsoever with the rogue all meet with failure. It is only when going through again that they will seek you out-which personally, I feel is not intuitive, that you will have to revisit a place which does not seem as though it is likely to have a changing description. I loved the history and backstory, as well as the ability to look up various things within the game, but frustrations over, for example, how to get the trade started made this game much less enjoyable than it could have been. I detest 'guess the syntax', and this game's scoring suffered due to that. I encourage this author, whoever they are, to continue, and perhaps switch to something which works better for that type of game.


Reviewed by David Fletcher

From the introduction: "Your function is that of a senior examiner at the Centre of Examination for the city Upsilon in what is basically a totalitarian state." I would have thought that this could have been stuff you learned in-game. Actually, a lot of the material in the introduction and the "useful information" and the "Morbian facts" you _would_ pick up in-game, and I think it was unnecessary to have it all in the opening menu.

Lots of bad comma usage and poor writing in general.

"... will hopefully give some clues to what happen." Presumably somebody set up us the bomb.

It's weird to have teleporters that only let you go to particular neighbouring locations. Why not allow me to teleport directly to anywhere that I am authorised to go to? I mean even if the teleportation technology has a distance limitation, can't it label me with my destination and forward me through a network of routers?

Descriptions are very repetitive. I think this is largely deliberate - the author is trying to show what it's like to be the protagonist living in this world, but unfortunately it makes the places pretty dull.

It's linear - there's usually only one thing you can do to advance the plot. And it seemed to vary between sometimes telling you rather bluntly what you should be doing next, and other times leaving you to wander around without knowing what to do at all.

The setting has a good amount of depth, and the author obviously enjoyed imagining it, but there wasn't anything about it that really grabbed my attention and kept me interested.

No serious bugs noticed. Most objects were implemented, but there wasn't much to look at a lot of the time.

There's a hunger equivalent, although the time limit is fairly generous. Still annoying though.

Would probably be on three points for technical merit and writing quality. I'll bump it up to four for the detailed and out-of-the-ordinary setting and protagonist, even though they weren't hugely original.


Reviewed by Emily Short

Unauthorized Termination (7)
This had a bunch of rough edges, implementation-wise -- some problems typical of ADRIFT parsers, and some others. It also has a somewhat railroady presentation -- there are usually only one or two sensible things for the player to do, and often these are more or less explicitly laid out for you -- and there was one bit, involving finding an item, which I would never have gotten without the walkthrough. The endgame could have been better paced, I think.

All the same, I found this strangely enjoyable. The robots, despite everything, came across with something approaching a genuine personality. I found the encounter with the First One almost touching. The mystery plot, though laid out in a linear way, still took enough turns to be interesting as I discovered it. So yes, there were some flaws, but this was fun.


Reviewed by Richard Bos

Unauthorized Termination: 5

Of course, UT suffers from the usual Adrift bugs: e.g., GIVE PEBBLE (to Zeta-Theta being implied, and in fact correctly inferred by the 'terp)
does not work, but an explicit GIVE PEBBLE TO ZETA-THETA does. The puzzles are good enough, though there aren't many of them and most of the game is just TALK TO <X>; TELEPORT; RINSE; REPEAT, and the last one was just not right. The story is also not bad at all, but made harder to follow by too many codes and numbers. These do evoke a suitably robotic atmosphere (or appropriate lack of atmosphere, if you wish), but unfortunately also get in the way. The best of the Adrift lot; but it could have been a lot better.


Reviewed by Valentine Kopteltsev

A very convincing game world with a thoroughly thought through and consequently implemented conception. Failed to get a higher rating due to minor technical problems, and a few story inconsistencies. 

Rating 6


Reviewed by djchallis

The good parts were superb on the whole.  The world that was created was very realistic and very absorbing.  It seemed logical, complete and in depth.  The ability to check computers for general information added realism but also added the chance to use your own detective skills.  The characters, whilst being emotionless robots, were actually quite lovable.  You felt you knew where you stood with them, what with all the rules and everything, and talking to them was easy and useful. 

To a large extent the descriptions and other non-speech text in the game was written from the point of view of your character, and certain notes and preferences were mentioned often enough for later scenes to be more believable.

Almost all of what was around was examinable, and there were very few times where I found the game dragged me out of the world it had created around me.

On the negative side however were a few problems i have with it.  The teleport had ups and downs.  It was clever and fitted with the world nicely, but it was a pain to have to memorise room numbers and sequences in order to get to the room you needed.  On the other hand, certain people's rooms teleporting to certain other rooms was more realistic.  My main issue with the game was that it was incredibly scripted.  Whilst even reading the speech and thoughts was absorbing, the game had a very on-rails feeling.  Sometimes you'd be expected to go talk to another character for unknown reasons, to find the plot would then be advanced.  By the time I'd reached the end I'm afraid I'd given up on guessing what to ask the characters about to get the correct response, and was simply using the hints, which by that point were becoming a walkthrough.  Lastly, one or two scenes almost felt like they hadn't had enough character development to work - but these were very rare.

Whilst certainly not perfect, this game is worth a look into for its superbly crafted world and excellent use of it.  I highly recommend this game for its highlights, whilst I admit the faults stop it from being a favourite of mine.

7 out of 10


Reviewed by Alan De Smet

You're a robot on a world of robots. A robot has been terminated without authorization and you need to find out why. Despite the setting, this is fundamentally a hard boiled detective story as you find out the dark secret that the murder is covering up.

It's an interesting twist, and I enjoyed it. The game has a number of flaws, but it's still fun. I enjoyed playing detective and uncovering the dark secret.

Unfortunately the game begins with a pile of completely irrelevant back plot. As is typical in such cases, less is more. There are few puzzles that require engaging in non-obvious activities, including holding a meteor at just the right time, or joining an underground religion for no reason. The game does a bit too much telling instead of showing. The "message waiting" flag on the messenging system doesn't clear when you read your messages. The dialogue is occasionally weirdly redundant, as though the person I'm talking to has forgotten what we were just discussing. The list of crimes in the world are all listed as being punishable by "authorized termination." The redundancy bothered me; isn't punishment authorized implicitly? And why list the punishment if you only have one?

The designers decided to make "SHOW X TO Y" synonymous with "GIVE X TO Y," leading to my handing a few objects over to people when I didn't mean to. For example, an attempt to show my boss some evidence was interpreted as an offer to trade. None of the misinterpretations were harmful, but they were jarring. The world primarily uses teleporters for transportation, but which teleporters are linked where seems random. The links sometimes change without rhyme or reason. I was optimistic about moving by teleporter, hoping I could skip mapping, except not all links are available. A few locations aren't accessible by teleporter, making more traditional mapping necessary. The game has some cryptic errors. The game insists that you begin all conversations with "TALK TO X," and gives the nonsensical error "Remember your politeness," if you forget. Trying to "READ REPORT" on a report you aren't carrying doesn't clairify that you need to pick it up first. The game in a few cases tells me what I think or do; behavior I never like. For example, at one point I as told, "You decide to return to the centre," which is very presumptive of my goals.

Finally, the core premise of the game seems nonsensical to me:

Spoiler!

All weapons are illegal, even for law enforcement. Since violent crime is clearly possible, it seems implausible for law enforcement to be unarmed. Thus, the core premise that there is a conspiracy to arm law officers is flawed.

 


Reviewed by Bob Woodward

Very good science-fiction story with nice characters, strong plot and innovative setting. In a robot society, the PC is examining a possible murder (,,unauthorized termination"). The game starts very linear and puzzleless, but as the story advances, there is some exploring and to a minor degree some puzzle-solving to do to reach the ending.
Score: 8
 


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