Suspended: A Cryogenic Nightmare

Tagged: Game

Videogame (1983). Infocom. Designed by Michael Berlyn. Platforms: AppleII, Atari8, C64, DOS, PCBoot, TRS80 (1983); Mac (1984); AtariST (1985); Amiga, Amstrad (1986).

The player character in the text Adventure game Suspended is a native of an offworld colony who has been selected by lottery to spend 500 years in Cryogenic Suspended Animation. While the character is frozen in an underground complex, their subconscious mind is used to keep the colony's vital systems functioning. Suspended begins with the protagonist's abrupt awakening, to be informed that an earthquake has severely damaged the complex. As the game progresses, further disasters follow. If the player has not repaired the colony's systems within a short period of time the colonists, operating on the assumption that their frozen slave has gone insane and is damaging the equipment deliberately, will end the game by forcibly disconnecting the protagonist. The most striking aspect of the design is its requirement that players cannot leave their cryogenic vault. Instead, they must attempt repairs through six Robot intermediaries, each of which has a different form of limited sensory apparatus, specific abilities, and a distinctive mode of speech. For example, "Poet" can sense electrical currents and has a hipster's approach to verbal descriptions, while "Waldo" (see Waldo) can perform delicate physical manipulations but is only capable of perceiving the world through a crude form of sonar. The gameplay revolves around synthesizing the reports of the various robots to arrive at some understanding of the actual situation before using their combined talents to repair the complex, under strict time limits. Suspended is difficult but intriguing; it perhaps shares more with later real time simulation games than with other text adventures. [NT]

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