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IFCOMP 2006 - Legion

Game #22: Legion (by Jason Devlin)
Played: Late September (beta-testing)
Platform: Inform 6 (Zcode)
Unofficial Score: 9

     Gameís Blurb:
     She will not triumph. We are strong. We are legion.

     XYZZY Response:
     We arenít familiar with that action.

     Usually, when I review an IFComp game I beta-tested, I try to re-play the competition version first. I save them until the end, so that time and other games have put a little distance between then and now.

     I managed to play just over half of this yearís entries. Itís evening of the last day now, and I donít have time to play Legion again before writing its review. So, this is based on my memories of the beta version almost two months ago, and on my beta transcripts. This will be a short review.

     Like Delightful Wallpaper, Jasonís entry was entered under a pseudonym. I have a feeling these two games will dominate the post-comp chatter. Both are very good, but I think people have more faith in a game written by an author with prior success. I believe voters will stand by their decisions, but will perhaps wonder if maybe they missed the point or misunderstood the story. Iím almost positive that I would have been very skeptical of Legion, had I assumed ďIan AndersonĒ to be a first-time author. Iím just as sure, though, that it would still have won me over by the end.

     That start of Legion is a little jarring. First-person plural takes some getting used to. Itís clear that something weird is going on, but not much else is clear at all. The story is told from an alien point of view. The beginning requires that the player develop an understanding of some unusual interactions. If Legion fails for anyone, this first part is where itís likely to happen. Itís easy to believe that nothing will make sense through the rest of the story.

     Learning and experimenting appealed to me, but as the unusual PCís understanding of the changes to its environment grew, so did my interest. More than once, while hunting for game bugs (of which there were very few Ė likely fewer still in the competition version), I felt a tinge of envy and admiration. Legion is a risky experiment that works. Itís unlike either of Jasonís prior games.

     By the end (although you can blow up the planet very early on and learn nothing), everything makes sense. When discoveries are made, the PC is able to understand the world in new ways. This becomes more familiar and more comfortable. Still, I found the later parts as challenging as the beginning. The multiple endings are worth seeing, but I needed hints to get there. Itís not that the puzzles are hard -- itís just not always easy to figure out what the PC is capable of.

     Legion deserves a high ranking. I hope that judges who ďdidnít get itĒ during the competition will try again afterwards. On my scale, itís a ď9Ē Ė an outstanding adventure.

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