I just spent the last two hours playing out an adventure as a steampunk robot “composed of shimmering ribbons of metal, constantly twisting together and apart.” This was on the heels of playing out my tasks as “sleek and refined, with few visible seams.” I like to be a robot with style.
It was also not my first time playing Chris Conley’s excellent interactive fiction game Machinations: Fog of War, which was released on iTunes last week. I answered a call for beta testers for an earlier version, so I got to see how the game changed from draft to purchase. Bugs were cleaned up and tweaks in wording occurred, but more interestingly, chunks of the story changed, a difficult feat with interactive fiction where small changes in one section of the story can affect all the future choices a player may make.
In Machinations, you play as a robot, created by an inventor of your choosing, who is serving the merchant-king (or queen!) and doing his/her bidding. It’s a kingdom tottering on the edge of war, and your actions will either help or hinder the people of the land. Sneak into a neighboring ruler’s castle, diffuse a tense situation amongst workers at the docks, and chase a shopkeeper who is holding answers to a puzzle across the rooftops.
In the game, you don various disguises in order to do your work, deciding where your loyalties lie and how you want to conduct the tasks at hand. Moreover, you explore your own backstory in flashbacks, remember how you came to work for the merchant-king.
It’s a very enjoyable game, clocking in at 150,000 words. Each adventure takes about two hours to play, and you can constantly reset the game to find a different path through the story. Gamecenter tracks your points (up to 740) as well as achievements (up to 35).
Machinations: Fog of War is currently on sale until August 26th. It’s a game with plenty of replay value, with each new adventure placing control in the hands of the player. It’s also on sale on Google Play, Amazon, and Steam.
Disclosure: I beta tested an earlier version of this game, though I purchased the copy I used for this review from the app store.